Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Does Patriotism Still Matter?

This was written by my 12 year old son, and he's got the spark! The future looks bright.

Does Patriotism Still Matter?

By David Williams

Yes, patriotism does still matter, if we didn’t have patriots we would be poor and have no rights. When 911 struck we didn’t give up, we took a stand. We have to support our country, our United States of America. To support our country we must never forget the men that fought and died for the freedom we have today.

Betsy Ross created the American Flag as a sign of freedom to represent the USA. The thirteen stripes represent the thirteen colonies and the fifty stars represent the states. The red stand for bravery, the white stands for peace, and blue stands for truth. Betsy Ross chose these colors to represent the people of this nation.

The police, the Marine Corps, the Navy, the Army, the Air force, Firefighters and the National Guard are all heroes of this nation. They have all given their lives for our country. And as patriots we should give recognition to these heroic men and women.
My father is a patriot he has been deployed five times; he has even dodged a bullet. In my eyes, my dad is the biggest patriot I know. My dad is a proud member of the military. He has been in the Marine Corps for 16 years. He is currently a Gunnery Sergeant and is working on becoming a Master Sergeant. Whenever my dad goes overseas I get a little worried, but I know he will be okay, he always comes home. And every time he comes home he brings my family and I special gifts from foreign countries and we make a sign to welcome him home. I love my patriotic dad.

I pledge Allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The day we lose our patriotism will be the day we lose our freedom, so GOD BLESS AMERICA!

Monday, February 14, 2011

The science of fire

Many of you are aware of the fire triangle and the fire pyramid (yes they are different) but how many of you REALLY understand the science behind these catchy terms?

A quick review: The fire triangle is heat, fuel, and oxygen or sometimes referred to as air.  Picture a triangle and if you remove any one of the sides the triangle loses support and collapses.  Remove any piece of the fire triangle and the fire goes out.  This is a fortunate effect as you will understand soon, if you don't already.

And the fire pyramid which is tinder, kindling, and fuel not to be confused with the pyrimid fire that is unrelated to this article.  A pyrimid is unlike a triangle in that it is built on a stable platform and can support itself.

Fire is a chemical process known as oxidation:
In this process oxygen combines with hydrogen and carbon, together the atoms rearrange and form water and carbon dioxide.  This energy causes heat, the same process takes place when metal rusts but the apparent lack of heat is due to a much lengthier time involved. 

But who cares about that nerd stuff here is some more nerd stuff to ponder!

Wood gas is a syngas, also known as producer gas, which is produced by thermal gasification of biomass or other carbon-containing materials such as coal in a gasifier or wood gas generator. It is the result of two high-temperature reactions (above 700 °C (1,292 °F)): an exothermic reaction where carbon burns to CO2 but is then reduced partially back to CO (endothermic); and an endothermic reaction where carbon reacts with steam, producing carbon monoxide (CO), molecular hydrogen (H2), and carbon dioxide (CO2).

In several gasifiers, the actual gasification process is preceded by pyrolysis, where the biomass or coal turns into char, releasing methane (CH4) and tar rich in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH). Other gasifiers are fed with previously pyrolysed char. Wood gas is flammable because of the carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and methane content. According to Wikipedia...I love Wikipedia.

Now for the important parts...When heat is applied to carbon fuel IE: wood, it immediately begins to break it down to the pyrolysis process (char) which brakes down further as described above, releasing wood gas that is ignited by the extreme heat.  When we interrupt this process such as when making char cloth we create a fuel that requires very little energy from heat to initiate the rest of the process because it does not have to first dry out the fuel and then break it down, it is already there. 

NOTE:  Remember that the process of breaking down carbon releases basically water and carbon dioxide, this will be revisited when we talk about food and the survival diet.

So when we use a small heat source on a small fuel IE: tinder it will be sufficient to complete the process were it is insufficient on larger materials.  This why we use tinder, then kindling, and lastly larger fuel wood in a gentle slow progress that supports itself and allows the fire to grow.  This is exactly why you cannot light a log with a little match.  This is important to us because in order to BUILD a fire for survival we have to understand where we can take shortcuts and where physics will simply not allow short cuts no matter how cold or in need you are.  Fire does not respond to tantrums and believe me I have seen some tantrums. 

In a friction fire, material selection aside we have to be able to create sufficient tinder (the char) heat from friction and air flow based on the size of the char particles and the arrangement that they fall in (the lay).  When you practice friction fire and find success pay close attention to the char particles shape size and lay.  That is what you are trying to reproduce time and time again.  It is the most under studied portion of the friction fire process and in my opinion the most important.

So heat oxidized the carbon eventually releasing woodgas that is ignited by the heat creating more heat.  the greater heat is capable of braking down larger fuel etc. etc. 

Have you ever noticed that when a fire is burning it appears to dance on top of the log not actually touching it.  That is the wood gas escaping the biomas (fuel) and carborizing (mixing with oxygen) to allow combustion.  sometime you may even see a gas pocket burn out of the side of the fuel like a little torch, that is because it is escaping the fuel under pressure, just like turning up the bellows fan on a forge.  If you can crank up the airflow you increase the heat, you can even increase the heat to forging temperature if you are clever.  Of course this will also increase the fuel consumption and reduce the waste IE: less smoke. 

There is an equal amount of science involved in controlling the smoke on the fire to create more or less as your needs change.  I may visit that topic in the future.  And of course there are more factors to consider when using chemical fuels to generate a fire but these are the basics and are true in all carbon fuel cases.  Honestly it is amazing to me that a cigarette tossed carelessly out of a car window can create such large wildfires if you think about all the factors that you must consider in order to light  a campfire.


The next time that you are sitting around watching the woodsman's TV.  Pay close attention to all the little chemical processes that are happening in all the stages.  It is more educational than the Discovery Channel.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Expert or Professional

Well for those of you that knew I was gone, I'm home now.  For the rest of you, I was invited to Langley VA to participate as a SME (Subject Matter Expert) for the multi service work group to revise the JFP 3-50.3 Survival, Evasion and Recovery.  I think that the document has some real useful information in it now.  Some outdated information was pulled and replaced with some new info that is relevant to today's survivor both on and off the battlefield.

I was surprised to receive an invite because I don't really consider myself an expert but I guess that is just another useless military title anyhow.  I am however a professional instructor and there are apparently not too many of us in the service, if you look at the big numbers. 

I have always looked at the expert (title) to be one claimed by those that think they have nothing left to learn, or by those that think their way is the best.  I don't know if that is true in all cases it is just my observation.  On the contrary those that claim professional seem to be a bit more humble in approaching their respective trade craft.  It seems that whenever I participate in educational events I am referred to as an expert in the craft that I am discussing and I always have opposition to the term.

According to Wikipedia:
An expert differs from the specialist in that a specialist has to be able to solve a problem and an expert has to know its solution. The opposite of an expert is generally known as a layperson, while someone who occupies a middle grade of understanding is generally known as a technician and often employed to assist experts. A person may well be an expert in one field and a layperson in many other fields. The concepts of experts and expertise are debated within the field of epistemology under the general heading of expert knowledge. In contrast, the opposite of a specialist would be a generalist, somebody with expertise in many fields.

The term is widely used informally, with people being described as 'experts' in order to bolster the relative value of their opinion, when no objective criteria for their expertise is available. The term crank is likewise used to disparage opinions. Academic elitism arises when experts become convinced that only their opinion is useful, sometimes on matters beyond their personal expertise.
In contrast to an expert, a novice (known colloquially as a newbie or 'greenhorn') is any person that is new to any science or field of study or activity or social cause and who is undergoing training in order to meet normal requirements of being regarded a mature and equal participant.
“Expert” is also being mistakenly interchanged with the term “authority” in new media. An expert can be an authority if through relationships to people and technology, that expert is allowed to control access to his expertise. However, a person who merely wields authority is not by right an expert. In new media, users are being misled by the term “authority”. Many sites and search engines such as Google and Technorati use the term "authority" to denote the link value and traffic to a particular topic. However, this “authority” only measures populist information. It in no way assures that the author of that site or blog is an expert.

A professional is a member of a vocation founded upon specialised educational training.
The word professional traditionally means a person who has obtained a degree in a professional field. The term professional is used more generally to denote a white collar working person, or a person who performs commercially in a field typically reserved for hobbyists or amateurs.
Definition Main criteria for professional include the following:

1.A professional is a person that is paid for what they do. Qualifications have little to do with being a professional as the world's "oldest profession" is strictly a monetary gain career. An amateur maybe more qualified than a professional but they are not paid, thus they are an amateur.

2.Expert and specialized knowledge in field which one is practicing professionally.

3.Excellent manual/practical and literary skills in relation to profession.

4.High quality work in (examples): creations, products, services, presentations, consultancy, primary/other research, administrative, marketing or other work endeavors.

5.A high standard of professional ethics, behavior and work activities while carrying out one's profession (as an employee, self-employed person, career, enterprise, business, company, or partnership/associate/colleague, etc.). The professional owes a higher duty to a client, often a privilege of confidentiality, as well as a duty not to abandon the client just because he or she may not be able to pay or remunerate the professional. Often the professional is required to put the interest of the client ahead of his own interests.

6.Reasonable work morale and motivation. Having interest and desire to do a job well as holding positive attitude towards the profession are important elements in attaining a high level of professionalism.

7.Participating for gain or livelihood in an activity or field of endeavor often engaged in by amateurs b : having a particular profession as a permanent career c : engaged in by persons receiving financial return

8.Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Special respect should be demonstrated to special people and interns. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one's business without doing it harm.

9.Professional Attire – Including but not limited to, dress slacks, long-sleeve button down shirt, tie, dress shoes, etc.

10.professional is an expert who is master in a specific field.

You can read all the descriptions at WikiPedia as these are just snippets, I am sure that you can find enough information there to argue either side of this coin.  It seems that the last criteria for a professional is an expert in the field so maybe I am sensitive to the word for no reason.  I have attended many events where the EXPERT was not what was advertises and at best would be a layperson. 

The reason that I brought this topic up is because I have been getting some slack on YouTube and in emails about the previous post, a chat with the Sierra Club.  I say this, I did the talk for no monetary gain.  I did it because I am a professional and I will relish almost every opportunity to promote survival training and wilderness education.  The Sierra Club has a mixed reputation among our community and I understand both sides of this argument.  This education was not about logging, land use, gun rights, oil or coal refineries, or saving some endangered shrimp.  It was about protecting ourselves in the outdoors so that the government does not have to regulate it.

How would you like to go hiking on the PCT or AT and have to go through mandatory inspection points to make sure that you have the gear to take care of yourself?  Or maybe you would have to go through training in order to get a license to recreate in the outdoors.  I say that it is regulated enough and only by taking care of ourselves can we limit any more government interference.  And while you may not like or agree with the Sierra Club and their goals, if you spend any time in our public lands you are likely to come across them because there are a lot of them and they spend time on our public lands.    To summarize, I am a professional survival instructor and ill refer to criteria number 8 of the professional.   Appropriate treatment of relationships with colleagues. Special respect should be demonstrated to special people and interns. An example must be set to perpetuate the attitude of one's business without doing it harm.

I will continue on my path without letting political ideals pollute the dissemination practical information.  If that somehow doesn't jive with your ideals then don't bother to leave me feedback, just go somewhere else.  I am pro-gun, pro-hunting, and pro using our natural resources in a responsible manner.  I don't believe that an endangered animal habitat should result in shutting down a much needed resource like food production.

I hope that sets the record straight but if that is not good enough for you, then piss off!