Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wish-Lust: Go Outfitters UnderQuilt.

Here's a pre-emptive Kickstarter post for the new project by GO! Outfitters, who bought us one of my favorite camping hammocks, the  asymmetrical GO! Hammock  
and the outer-shell for it, the Apex Camping Shelter & Hammock Camping Tarp and the upcoming, and freshly released Kickstarter Project, the Adventure Under Quilt: Hammock Camping Insulation. 

The idea of the UnderQuilt is to ensure that the underside of the  hammock sleeper stays toasty warm. As more people are switching from tent camping to hammock camping. they are coming across an unusual phenomenon; they often find that their backsides can get cold fast, because it's exposed cool air and wind. Some people use sleeping bags in hammocks but the insulation gets compressed and doesn't work as it would on the ground.

Others sleep on sleeping pads, but keeping them in place can be a nightmare in a hammock. They slide around and bunch up inside the walls of  the hammock, and can be far from comfortable. The UnderQuilt adds a layer of insulation to the outside of the hammock, freeing up the internal space, which is at a premium, as well as adding an extra layer of weather-proofing.

Filled with  100% Polyester Max Loft 10° Insulation.  but we have set the Temperature Rating of the quilt conservatively at 20°F). plenty warm enough for anywhere  I would want to camp in a hammock, to be sure. with a
210T Ripstop Polyester, Calendered, Water and Wind Resistant Shell Fabric and
210 Polyester, Breathable Liner Fabric not that it matters greatly as you won't be touching the liner, as the whole thing sits under the skin of your hammock. Designed with their own Hammocks specifically in mind, but will suit any gathered-end hammock, thanks to the ingenious cinching self-locking drawstrings and built in attachment systems, the UnderQuilt will suit up to a 7' user. 

It is 81 long and " 52" wide, and comes with its own weatherproof stuff-sack packing down to a mere  1lb. 9oz. (Includes: Under Quilt, Compression Stuff Sack, 2 Carabiners, and Built-In Shock Cord Suspension rig) all in a  8" diameter  x 10" long bundle.

I really like the idea of this, and hope to back it myself, for those rare camping trips I get  to take. Winter is coming, and I'm a skinny kind of guy at the best of times, and my bony ass needs all the warmth I can give it.   Do check out the deals on their Kickstarter page, the bundles would make an excellent way of starting your own hammock camping collection.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review

So it seems someone signed me up for Recoil's OFFGRID. Awesome surprise when I got home. Review to follow. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: khukri

One of the first "real" pieces of weapon-steel I ever bought for myself was a khukri that I purchased on-auction back in 1997, with wages from a part time job I had at the time. It was a WW2 era Gurkah blade and was only listed as a "good" condition, but that was good enough for me!

The khukri is a traditional knife design from Nepal, where it is as much a piece of farm equipment, or household knife as it is a weapon. It fills the same niche as the machete does in the America's or Africa. It's a simple, uncomplicated blade that is up to the task of rugged, daily rural use.

Read the rest here on Breach Bang Clear! 


They still work just fine and in fact, effortlessly bit into this beam, and I felt that in 5 or 6 chops, I could have parted it. Typically khukri's have a partial tang, which is burned into the wooden handle and glued in with pitch. I can tell you, that at 60+ years old, this blade was hungry for chopping, with not a wiggle or shake.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Talkin' Strayin! (Aussie Slang, A through D)

So, some of you readers may have noticed a slight antipodean lilt to my writing's accent. It's not all con. I spell aluminium and colour weird, and you should wait till you hear me talk! I confuse people all over the world, with my mixed up spoken vernacular and messed up "vaguely "not from roun' here accent.... that said, I feel maybe I can add something to common understanding, and perhaps improve international relations by offering a quick overview of some of the more colourful idioms of common Australian conversation you might come across if you get stationed with some, or even just shoulder up to one of our innumerate backpackers at a bar somewhere cheap and dingy ...

Now, Australians are renowed for being fairly potty-mouthed, and I hope you're adult enough to handle rude word on the internet. if not, go check out the fun kids on 4Chan, but the key is that its all in good context (we hope).

First up: "Ozzies" vs "Aussies." It's pronounced like OZZY OSBOURNE, not HOUSE_EEEEE or AHHHWWW-SEEEE

I'm going to cover some simpler terms and phrases that may confuse and conflate your communications, then explain and use them in context.

Agro: aggravated (abbreviated). "Hey don't get all agro with me mate, not my fault you didn't pack wet weather gear."
Arvo: afternoon (abbreviated). "Hey Cheer up rain should clear by tomorrow arvo!"
Average: sub-standard. Poor performance. Sarcasm. "Thanks mate, the forecast has been pretty average this whole trip."
Bags: to call claim on, like dibbs. "Chicken's here. Bags the drumsticks!"
Battler: an underdog struggling on regardless. "Get a load of these poor battlers. Cold, wet, miserable, and not a Nintendo DS amongst them."
Boff: to have casual sex. "So there we were in the middle of the storm, just battling on, then these two just boffed right there on the pool table, lights out for miles around."
Bottl-o: abbreviation of Bottle-shop, a Liquor store. "Let's swing past the bottle-o on the way and grab some beers for the party, mate."
Bogan: a uncouth and uncultured ruffian (from Boggan, a kind of troll/gnome). "Man, the bottle-o was full of bogans, huffing paint."
Bloody: an verbal amplifier. "That wasn't just a good concert mate, it was bloody brilliant!"
Bloody brilliant: very good. "So there we were in the middle of the storm, just battling on, then these two just boffed right there on the pool table, lights out for miles around. It was bloody brilliant!"
Barbie: a BBQ grill (charcoal or gas), or the act of cooking at one at a party. "Bloody brilliant barbie, mate. We're just gonna swing past the bottle-o for some more beers."
Bastard: a person who is unliked or unlikable. They may also be a dear friend or no relation at all. May also be an insult to someone being a prick. "Look at all these bastards, trying to merge into the off-ramp. Some poor bastard must have had a bingle up ahead in all the rain. And there's this bastard. Leaning out to take pictures on his bloody phone...get yer head in, ya' soppy cunt."
Bunnings Sausage sizzle: Bunnings, a big hardware/lumber chain, puts on sausage BBQs for local charities. For a "gold coin" ($1/$2) you can get a sausage, and sauce on a slice of buttered white bread. Grilled onions and soft drinks extra. Makes a weekend hardware crafting run a dining experience. "After Davo's piss-up barbie on Friday night we had to swing past Bunnings to replace the busted lawn chairs. Sausage sizzle was lifesaving hangover cure, mate."
Bludge: to be lazy and skate or shirk work or effort. Often in relation to the unemployed. "That bludger say he can't work because of his back but I saw him playing footy." It's a serious insult to call someone a bludger, suggesting they're shirking duty or leaving others to do the work, which is rather in-Australian.
Barrack: to support or cheer for a side. To "root" has a different meaning to Aussies. "I started off barracking for the Bulldogs like my dad but they're crap so I switched to the Mighty Magpies. They're doing bloody brilliant this season."
Cobber: a guy, a dude, a fella. "That cobber is a true blue battler. Right as rain he is."
Chuck: to vomit. "After the piss-up at Tommo's I didn't think I'd ever eat again. I even chucked when we drove past the Bunnings Sausage Sizzle."
Chucking a na-na: - temper tantrum. From baNA-NA . "The Sergeant Major chucked a right na-na after his dog ran in front of the convoy. Squashed flat it was."
Chucking a wobbly: see chucking a na-na .
Chucking / hanging a U-ey: making a U-turn whilst driving. No drifting or bootlegger turns required, but sound effects welcome.
Dag: the matted faecal matter hanging from the back of a sheep. A mild jibe to indicate someone is bit lame or uncool. Suitable for schoolteachers to address wayward kids. Equivalent to Huckleberry or dingleberry. "Take those off, you big dag. Who wears sunglasses inside at night?"
Cunt: derisive insult. Nowhere near as taboo a term in Australian culture as in American. It's still not nice conversation, but not a deadly insult either. "Sure, my dad's a bit of a cunt, but at least he's not a bloody bludger like yours."
Dart: a cigarette. Often hand rolled. "Chuck us a dart mate, I'm off for a smoko."
Dobbing: telling on someone; finking/tattling/ratting on. For personal gain. Viewed with much contempt. "It was a total bludge job mate, right until those dobbers from level seven chucked a wobbly."
Dead set: True, dependable, fixed or sturdy, decided or final. "If you're dead set on crossing the Nullarbor in that junk heap, you might want to chat to Ol' one-eye Joe, first. Fella is a dead-set legend in these parts, mate."
Don't come the raw prawn with me: don't try to fool me in an area I'm experienced in. "I need the carburetor for a 1968 Holden Commodore. Don't come the raw prawn with me, mate, that one's for a 1972 Ford Fairlane".
Democracy sausages: voting in Australia is compulsory. To help reduce the sting of having to waste perfectly good Saturday mornings, it's traditional for polling stations to also host a sausage sizzle and bake sale on election day. "I don't care which of the bastards wins, I got me my Democracy sausage so I'm good for four years."
Dog and bone: telephone. Rhyming slang. "One of those bastards from level seven on the dog and bone again, dobbing on the bludgers from section three. AGAIN. AVERAGE."
Donger: A penis. "She threw him the can, but it was wet from the Esky, right? So I slipped it and it got him right on the donger, pinned him to the chair it did, thought he mighta spewed right there at the table."
Drongo: a mild insult, equivalent to a dumbass.
Durry: a cigarette. abbreviated from Dunhill. "give us a fuckin' Durry, ya cunt"
Dry as a dead dingos donger: thirsty. Dingos (the semi-native wild dog) which die of dehydration, often get baked into hairy jerky by the unforgiving Australian sun. "Pass me a beer, mate, this one's as dry as a dead dingo's donger."


And for your further education here is some of the above in play, by contemporary real Australian comedians: Neel Kolhatkar and the Aussie Man....

australia is not racist ..
aussie compliments
aussie insults
australia in 2x minutes
australian media
more australia in 2 minutes

aussie man reviews
aussie man reviews uncovered


(Stay tuned for F-N and M-Z)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Brain Injury and the Apocalypse Eqipped

So, I haven't been posting much recently, mostly due to medical problems i've had. here's the breakdown; Health update: i'm doing really well, recovering my faculties and abilities at a good pace....

as first seen on Breach Bang & Clear. thanks to he guys for sticking by me!

I woke around 4am on 21/11/2016, thirsty, unsurprising as I had run the Tough Mudder the day before that (my fifth time), and been out in the heat that day,  and whilst I had studiously hydrated before, during and after, I had also had a rather heated hero's welcome before hitting the pillow that that evening. Choking on my bed-side water, my partner Lorin woke up, and took my bottle away. I objected  somewhat incoherently. That was a warning sign. Lorin was immediately worried, and asked me to smile, and raise my hands and I didn't do too well. She called my other partner Omega in and I flubbed the "raise your hands and smile" test" for her too. They suspected I was having a stroke and called an ambulance. I was collected shortly afterwards and zipped off to the local hospital. I managed to request pants so had some Thai fisherman pants on for the simulation of dignity.

They apparently sedated me, or I passed out, because I woke up the next day (I think) to find that I had indeed had a stroke, determined by an MRI and CT scans that I had no memory of.

It turns out I had had a middle cerebral arterial  rupture, and blockage, caused by a 3cm clot (that a surgeon removed via CT-guided Angioplasty). They did the procedure through my femoral artery, which left a bit of a hole in my thigh. The clot had caused a infarct (blockage) and subsequent rupture  (dissection) of my middle cerebral artery.  This in turn lead to a frontal lobe oedema and mild mass effect, sparing the motor cortex.

I was also put on a heavy regime of "clotbuster" drugs, and on oxygen for a day or so... It was noted that I had left-side Hemiplagia (partial paralysis) and dysarthria (slurred speech).

When my surgeon came to check on me I managed to give them my name and date of birth (something I was asked often) and raise hands and feet on my own which I was able to do to his amazement. It turns out that I had been very lucky in the timing of my medical attention. an hour so later and the clot-buster drugs  may not have had the useful effect, and the surgery mightn't have been performed by Mechanical thrombectomy using a MERCI Retriever L5. its a roto-rooter for blood clots!

Removal of the clot may be attempted in those where it occurs within a large blood vessel and may be an option for those who either are not eligible for or do not improve with intravenous thrombolytics. Significant complications occur in about 7%

The clot-buster meds brought up all my post-Tough Mudder bruises something fierce. The nursing and other medical staff were all horrified by it, but believed me when I told them I wasn't an underground pit fighter or something. They also grilled me about my lifestyle, and took lots of bloods. I have a pretty good diet, my cholesterol levels are well in the green, I'm fit, strong and active.  To my recollection , I sustained no head injuries on the Tough Mudder course. Stroke cause; stress and exertions.

I barely drink, have never smoked, or partake in recreational drugs. Apparently "really fit 40 year-olds" and older, overweight smokers are who they usually see. I'm apparently in the first category.

I was partially paralysed for a little while, but hardly remember that, but was frequently examined and tested wiht the 'squeeze my fingers and "lift your feet' tests as well as the more tedious "whats your name?" and "date of birth?" and "do you know where you are?", "what happened to you?" and "what day it is?" tests. Given the nature of my condition, and the unknown amount of brain damage I sustained by both the lack-of-blood to the brain, and the squeezing effect of a cerebral bleed.

They put me on a whole week of strict bed-rest. I was listed a "falls risk" and hey put a "getting up alarm" in my bed. great idea, but there was NO way I was going to get up and risk falling and smashing my brain. This meant a few things: If i moved too much in bed, a buzzer would sound, 24/7 and shortly after a Stroke Unit Nurse would how up an check that I wasn't making a run for it.  They would also ask the "whats your name, where are you and what day is it?" so I generally tried to stay still.  A side effect of this is that I was put on an additional regime of intra-abdominal klexane injections 

to stave off  further clots from inactivity. These caused a lurid pattern of bruises on my belly! like paintball welts, without the fame, glory or fun.

Another aspect of this was that when i needed to pee, as I wasn't catheterized (thankfully) was that I needed to pee into a pee-bottle such as the one to the left modeled by Lorin. A lifetime of of "don't wet the bed or pee in your wetsuit" reflexes had to be overcome. Speaking of, I also had to learn to use a bed-pan, for pooping in, which Lorin also helped me out with, with the wiping.
Again, Dignity. It has to wait sometimes.

I had another round of CT scans, and they determined that I wasn't in much risk of further brain bleeds, and could stand some standing, so they got me up and out of bed, under some serious supervision. After proving I could stand and move from foot to foot, and balance on each foot without falling over, I was cleared to use the wheelchair to go to the bathroom on my own. I wheeled myself there, moved from chair to toilet on my own, and managed to use the facilities all on my own.

Classically, a stroke is when poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. They result in part of the brain not functioning properly.[1] Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, feeling like the world is spinning, or loss of vision to one side.[2][3] Signs and symptoms often appear soon after the stroke has occurred.
If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke.[3]
 A hemorrhagic stroke may also be associated with a severe headache.[3] The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long-term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control. I was fortunate not to acquire the headaches. I had weakness in my hands and a bit wobbly, and some slack in my face that made me slur a little, but I appeared not to have lost any of my faculties.  I was cautiously walking by the third week in hospital, and able to not only go the bathroom by my self but also bathe, with the use of a shower-chair by myself, though  I had very enjoyable supervision from Lorin... who also washed my hair and reminded me to scrub my pits and brush my teeth!

It was in the Second week of my stay that I was taken off 'mushy-food and thick liquids. I had been seen as a choking risk, and no-one want's aspiration pneumonia from inhaling hospital mush. The xanthan gum thickened water and juice were strange, and most people would find it off-putting, but I remembered similar drinks at Houston Space Center, growing up.  Astronaut drinks for me! I was spared too much hospital pap by my loving, supportive family, who took food orders, and snuck me in BBQ ribs, burgers and even Nando's picknic's  to the formally-frowning and informally pleased nods of the nursing staff. Even though, I was ravenous. AND ate both my hospital meals AND whatever extra snacks came my way. And even on bed-rest for three weeks I infact LOST 15-20 kg. Brain injury recovery is hungry business, yo. All totally normal. Being on bed-rest also meant I was getting  intra-abdominal klexane injection is my belly at lunchtime every day. Not overly painful , but bruised me and made me ache.

So, one of the most worrying parts in all of this was the question of 'just how damaged WAS my brain going to be?" Early on we determined that I had -most- of my brain function still. My fine motor skills were a touch laggy, but my memory, both short and long term seemed to be fine, as was speach, and cognition. Whilst bed-ridden,  I was able and very happy to recieve and build a bunch of LEGO sets that I was brought in by Lorin and Omega at
first, and then by other people who came in, having heard I was taking visitors and building LEGO. Not only was it a blast from childhood, but also good for fine motor skills, cognition but also spatial awareness. One thing it alerted my eagle -eyed Occupational Therapists to was a thing they call "perseveration" where when faced with a "wrong-but-close" situation such as "brick in wrong spot" I now have a tendancy to just keep doing the wrong thing, in the hope it will just come good. This same effect has made me mis-type passwords till I lock accounts too. Now I am aware of it, I can be on the look out for this behavior and apply 'if at first you don't succeed" logic to the problem. Omega and Lorin are on the watch for it so, so I don't keep bumping into wall like a broken robot for hours ...

After the first two weeks, and a re-checking of my brain via a trip in the magic CT-donut, I was shipped of to a rehab hospital, via an amusing "patient transfer ambulance ride" in a wheelchair van. My new accommodation was not nearly as nice as my private room in the stroke ward as I was sharing a bunch of other dudes, who snored and argued with the nursing staff about their meds at all hours.  I was also still getting my "obs" done every couple of hours, blood pressure, pulse and "name, DOB and where are you?" neuro checks. 

Being at the rehab hospital also meant trips to the gym, for supervised physiotherapy. This consisted of time on the elliptical machine to warm up, then a 3kg dumbell routine, and ankle weights routine. They also had me do a balance course, on parallel bars, with uneven ground underneath whilst balancing tennis balls on my hands. It turns out that having a stroke hasn't magically improved my balance any but my reflexes sem to be ok still.

The Neuro-psychology team got their hands on me, pre-dicharge and ran an extensive set of IQ tests and the like on me to see how much damage to my brain meats had been done when the clot and burst artery starved me of bloodflow. I was curious how they would assess my "before incident" ability, but apparently the tests were sophisticated enough to give a baseline. Of the seven areas being assessed: General intellectual ability, general knowledge and verbal abstract reasoning, non-verbal fluid reasoning, constructional problem solving, spatial planing and arithmetical reasoning.  I had been baselined as "likely superior" in all areas "before" at the time of assessment was found to be "average" in most and falling withing the "low average range"in arithmetical reasoning.

So, it seems that at the time of assessment i've had some damage, and don't math so well. I'll be re-assessed as part of my "return to work preparation" and the hope is that in the meantime, my brain will be-self-repairing and i'll recover a lot of my "superior status" in time. I've been doing more LEGO, to build up my spatial planning and fine manual dexterity and problem solving skills sets.

In addition to neurological impairment, hemorrhagic strokes usually cause specific symptoms (for instance, subarachnoid hemorrhage classically causes a severe headache known as a thunderclap headache). I've been very lucky in that I haven't shown any evidence of ongoing headaches. It's a warning sign that we're all keeping a close eye on through.

I have a regime of facial strengthening exercises my "face-ups" to do to even out the slight lag i had developed on the left hand side of my face and a set of rehab-therapy visits with the Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy continually re-assess my recovery. All seems to be going pretty well.   

My Drivers-licence was suspended pending medical clearance and re-testing, standard procedure for people who have have strokes, which is pretty annoying, but i agree it's better for the community.

I had a steady stream of visitors throughout my stay. Friends, family, lovers, neighbors and old friends all came to see if I was OK, all-there and to cheer me up. It made a world of difference, especially with the question "will I pop a vessel and drop dead at any moment?" ringing loudly between my ears. Tactical Baby and Triceratops Girl were really pleased to see me, and not distressed, just concerned for me. I'm really grateful for all the visitors, and love I was shown, not to mention the mound of LEGO that kept hands and mind busy.

The Occupational therapists also gave me their own kind of test too, and supervised me cooking  meal in the in-ward kitchen.

I did some scrounging in true Apocalypse mode style and dug out a couple of cans of beans, ketchup some onions, spices and even a bag of bacon from the back of the freezer.  The OT's weren't thrilled about me sharpening  all the kitchen knives, but sharpen them I did. (A sharp knife is a safe knife). and I made a pretty passable chili. 
More flavour than I'd managed to ingest in a while and I didn't set myself or the kitchen ablaze, or cut anything but onions and bacon!

Now being more or less fully mobile, I was off the daily injections, which was grand, but also meant that I was put on a more pill-based regime. So, now, daily, I take this collection of pills to: regulate my blood pressure (too high = popping), thin my blood (reducing clotting), reduce cholesterol buildup (clogs for clots to plug up on) and an acid-reflux-reducer to help me with the other pills.

I was also on some anti-hiccup medication for a while too, when suck in the bed, and I had hiccups pretty bad for the first week. Didn't help me rest or sleep, but at least I didn't have any broken bones to contend with. I was also put on  melatonin briefly as I had trouble sleeping in a busy room, full of snoring old dudes. The aggravated ranting at nurses doing meds and obs by my fellow inpatient didn't help much either, nor did my internal worry that I might have another stroke and not wake up.

How does this all relate to being Apocalypse Equipped?? Well, what hit home for me was that if it could happen to ME, it could happen to ANYBODY and were it not for rapid and advanced medical treatment, I'd have died or been crippled. Here's some statistics... via WIKI

When I arrived at Hospital, I was in my pajamas, unconscious. all I had with me as far as GEAR goes were my necklaces.

That said, I have a few gems on my necklace, to keep me from feeling too naked. Airport security LOVE ME.
 What I had with me was: Tritium marlin spike  titanium WTF wrench-and-pry-tool and my SAR moon-glow / reflective disk. And top that off with my charms: a Mj√∂lnir.  My coyote and the brass arrowhead I wear for luck.  the rings are purely sentimental but the brass Omega reminds me I'm owned and cherished. I did feel, in the late of the night, when nurses bumped into my bed and woke me, that I was ill prepared.

At an early point in my stay, I put in a request for my EDC, and I got a pocket dump from home, and added a few more useful items to keep handy. Included in this was some paracord, my SAR Dead Ringer comb (because personal grooming is important). One of my titanium Fishbone Piranhas and a RaidOps TM-Joe made up some heft for my pocket, and a Gerber multitool added some more utility. some dental floss for good measure.

Thus equipped I rested easier, and once fully signed out, I headed home to recuperate further. I was released home into the care of Omega and Lorin, with a house-call visit from a community nurse to check up on me. We hired a shower-chair, so I could shower myself without worry of falling over.

The recovery process has been slow, and I am still wracked with fatigue, and find myself able to exert myself for only a few hours a day, before  I run out of steam and have to have a nap. This is normal, I've been told, but it's been a big adjustment for me to make.

Speaking of which, I've had some others as well. On top of some physical weakness from bedrest and lack of strenuous exercise I've been free of any other serious symptoms. A medically trivial problem that has arisen and been waived off by the various medical staff I've asked as "normal, expected and will auto-correct" was my sudden sexual performance issues. No joke, and rather distressing. Put it down to near-death stress. Still, worth mentioning. Thankfully, my partners have been very understanding, and good sports about it. Apparently, even in my diminished state I am still an adequate lover, even if I have completion issues. So there's some TMI for you all. I'm improving though, and still working at it!

Medically I am A-OK, and fully biologically functional. I have my regime of "don't have another stroke medications" to keep me going, and more appointments with the Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Neuro-psych team to monitor and steer my recovery.

So, to finish up this long and fairly auto-biographical piece which I'm not used to writing ... here are some useful some early recognition tips:

Early recognition was was got me he rapid medical attention that saved my life:

Various systems have been proposed to increase recognition of stroke. Different findings are able to predict the presence or absence of stroke to different degrees. Sudden-onset face weakness, arm drift (i.e., if a person, when asked to raise both arms, involuntarily lets one arm drift downward) and abnormal speech are the findings most likely to lead to the correct identification of a case of stroke increasing the likelihood by 5.5 when at least one of these is present). Similarly, when all three of these are absent, the likelihood of stroke is significantly decreased (– likelihood ratio of 0.39).[26] While these findings are not perfect for diagnosing stroke, the fact that they can be evaluated relatively rapidly and easily make them very valuable in the acute setting.

A mnemonic to remember the warning signs of stroke is FAST (facial droop, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call emergency services)

And Lastly, here's some more facts and figures. Lots of people have strokes, apparently, I don't feel lonely,  I  feel LUCKY. I'm lucky I live in  a country with excellent and affordable medical attention  (my Government recommended Private Health Insurance) covered the entirety of my $4300 9-day private room, and all medical therapies, The Ambulance Membership covered my pick-up and transit costs.

In 2013 approximately 6.9 million people had an ischemic stroke and 3.4 million people had a hemorrhagic stroke. In 2010 there were about 33 million people who had previously had a stroke and were still alive. Between 1990 and 2010 the number of strokes which occurred each year decreased by approximately 10% in the developed world and increased by 10% in the developing world. In 2013, stroke was the second most frequent cause of death after coronary artery disease, accounting for 6.4 million deaths (12% of the total). About 3.3 million deaths resulted from ischemic stroke while 3.2 million deaths resulted from hemorrhagic stroke. About half of people who have had a stroke live less than one year. Overall, two thirds of strokes occurred in those over 65 years old.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Home Front: Old Melb Gaol grounds.

So .. .long time no post from me.

LONG STORY SHORT: I had a "massive stroke" that was luckily caught really early so I have been making " a remarkable recovery" at the expense of a lot of motivation, but here's my return to writing ..

Museum trips are something that are good for us as a family but we took  a chance on a variation and visited the infamous Old Melbourne Goal one weekend and I was struck by its castle-like construction, and thought it would be an interesting site to add to my list of bug-in locations; following on from Ikea, self-storage facilities and the like.

The Old Melbourne Goal is a retired corrections facility,  built between1843 and 1864 during the Gold Rush,  and  expanded  between 1852 and 1854; the construction using bluestone instead of sandstone. 

The design was based on that of British prison engineer Joshua Jebb, and especially the designs for the Pentonville Model Prison in London (which suited the current prison reform theories at the time). The boundary wall also being extended during this time. In 1860, a new north wing was built; which included entrance buildings, a central hall and chapel. Between 1862 and 1864, a cell block was built for female prisoners on the western side – it was basically a replica of the present east block (until this time, female convicts were not kept apart from the male prisoners).[4]

 Started in 1843 and not finished until 1864, the ironstone perimeter wall, and the gaol overall, was completed; making it a dominant feature of authority on the Melbourne skyline.

As the Gaol was progressively decommissioned, the building’s fabric, including bluestone grave markers of executed prisoners, was incorporated into a sea wall at Brighton in Victoria in the 1930s. The grave marker for Martha Needle, executed in 1894, has recently been rediscovered after being buried by metres of sand.

The Second Cell Block is scientifically significant as an illustration of the Pentonville type gaol based on the universal specifications of the British prison engineer Joshua Jebb. The complex of buildings is historically significant for its role as Melbourne’s oldest surviving gaol and as the Remand, Trials, Debtors and Females prison for the metropolitan area for much of its functioning life. The site of the whole extent of the original complex is archaeologically significant in so far as it contains remnants of the original gaol structures and the site of the original burials of prisoners hanged at the gaol, including Ned Kelly.  That old style construction is what made it appeal to me.  Thick, thick solid bluestone walls and fittings, made to last! The current facility features the large securing wall, with heavy metal gates and barred windows still in place to keep the general public out...

Garden beds line the walls in its current setting, the large forecourt big enough for concert marquis to be set up ... outside the main cell block but still within the thick and high external walls.

The main cell block is three stories with iron gantries and stairs connecting the floors. Electric lighting has replaced the gaslights originally fitted, but light is supplemented by vaulted windows in the walls and the ceiling.

Based on the Pentonville prison style, It had a central hall with five radiating wings, all visible to staff at the centre. This design, intended to keep prisoners isolated – the "separate system" first used at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia – was not, as is often thought, a panopticon. Guards had no view into individual cells from their central position. Pentonville was designed to hold 520 prisoners under the separate system, each having his own cell, 13 feet (4 m) long, 7 feet (2 m) wide and 9 feet (3 m) high with little windows on the outside walls and opening on to narrow landings in the galleries.[2]  The cells currently are empty but for museum fittings, and the occasional replica mattress... barely big enough for a Tactical Baby ...

Each cell comes with its original door, complete with portal and two-stage lock. With a little work the doors could be rigged to open and lock from the inside, if you don't care about the Heritage listing and have powertools...

There is also a window set high into the outside facing wall which allows a considerable amount of light and air into the rooms.

The floors are polished, these days, which helps to keep it clean. There is also a drain hole set into the bottom corners of the rooms, allowing them to be washed and to drain out over the outer wall... Reports from the time suggest the cells were "admirably ventilated", a visitor wrote, and had a water closet, though these were replaced by communal, evil-smelling recesses because they were constantly blocked and the pipes were used for communication..... as horrid as that sounds.

On the top floor there were double sized rooms, with double windows, and are currently fitted out with lounges for when the Gaol is hired as a social venue for events! Back when they were in use as prisons, Mental disturbances were common. An official report admitted that "for every sixty thousand persons imprisoned in Pentonville there were 220 cases of insanity, 210 cases of delusion, and forty suicides".[3] However, conditions were better and healthier than at Newgate and similar older style prisons.
That said, the renovated and cleaned for public viewing cells were clean, neat and presentable, if sparse. outside bars, behind smoked glass, reduce the prison-cell aspect slightly, and keep the weather out. even in high summer, he facility is cool, due to the high vaulted ceilings, and by virtue of the thermal mass of the bluestone construction.

The ironwork is all sound, the stairway and gantries as well as bars are all in good order. lending the site a very sturdy, robust and long lasting feel. The wash houses and kitchen facilities are not open to the public, so its hard to say what they are like, ut there is certainly lots of space to accommodate both many inhabitants, but also by cross-purposing:storage and amenities on site.

So. Given its age pre-dates running water I suspect it will have or have easily  restorable water reservoirs or at least drainpipes that could be diverted. The courtyards are already fitted with raised garden beds and the makings of vertical gardens all behind the heavy walls and bars of HM Prison Melbourne!the garden beds around the inside of the outer wall could also be converted for crops. Plenty of space in the courtyards,so given water and exposed soil, there could be land enough to grow substantial crops in a secure environment... not unlike the rather more flimsier-perimeter walled West Georgia Correctional Facility ... 

So, it may not be that prisons, active or retired make excellent refuges in a post-disaster setting, but what they lack in amenities and comfort hey certainly make up for in security and robust design. These are places built to last ... inexpensively and generally in harsh settings.

The Old Melbourne Gaol would certainly seem like a secure and defensible bug-out destination, if the food and water situation could be addressed, and there is much to be said for getting as far from civil centers as possible. However, you'd be hard pressed to find a more castle like site near where I live, should you be of a fortification minded perspective, as I am ...

Of note is that  in 1974, several buildings in the complex have been given over to the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and were refitted as college style teaching facilities; The Melbourne Gaol's main entrance gates, governor's residence, female hospital, service wing, bath-house and chapel were constructed in 1860-61. Collectively these facilities are known as RMIT Building 11. Architect: Colonial Government Architect. Remodelled for the food and fashion departments of the Emily McPherson College by architects Eggleston, McDonald and Secomb in May 1974. The bath-house and chapel now serve as art studios.

So, all told. I was impressed with the potential the old Melb Goal showed as a bug-out stronghold and in the event of som kind of society-crumbling event, it would appear well suited for re-purposing into a reasonably simple to maintain and defend keep.

Even with its modern restorations and conversions, and lack of internal resources, its imposing structure and history lend itself to the mind as a suitable "fall of civilization" fall-back point. Imagine a supermarket resupply semi-trailer parked in the main courtyard, and corn and cabbage in the vegetable plots, barrels of water filled by re-routed gutters, street-facing windows blocked up ...... solar panels and windmills.

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