Checking in, herbs, potions, surplus, and more

Hello,

I’ve had a busy couple of weeks. I just returned from the Twin Cities a couple days ago.  Here’s a little update of what I’ve been up to:

Herbs are sprouting!

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Things are starting to really spring up and my goji berry plant has rooted and is standing tall and strong. I’m really relieved that it worked out. For the first couple days the poor plant had transplant trauma and was very wilty.  I gave it a few drinks of sugar water and it perked right up. Now it’s almost as tall as the bamboo stick!

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I stopped at a Herb shop and picked up a few ounces of adaptogen herbs for focus, energy, and virility.  Really decent prices. I spent under 10bucks.  Buying loose-leaf herbs is so cheap.
Ravn’s Virility Tonic
2 tsp Schizandra berry
2 tsp Horny Goat Weed
2 tsp Ginseng
Ravn’s Focus Potion
2 tsp Ginko
2 tsp Ginseng
2 tsp Schizandra berry
(For more of a focus kick use some green tea also)

Add more of each for a stronger potion. Pour the herbs into boiling water and turn off the heat. Let set for 5-10 minutes.

Or you can make this into a decoction. Put herbs into a boiling pot, turn heat down to a simmer, and let simmer for 30-45minutes.

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I made a stop in Fargo at Mills Fleet Farm because they have a really huge selection of military surplus gear.  Military Surplus is a great resource for prepper gear because it’s high quality and affordable.  I have been wanting a good durable bug-out bag that I can double use for camping and backpacking.  I got an “Italian San Marco Backpack” for around 20$.  I plan on saving up for an A.L.I.C.E Pack Frame to use as well.

Fitness Update

So a month or so ago I weighed in at 129lbs. Yesterday I weighed myself and landed at 141lbs! I am 3lbs away from my bulking goal.  Once I reach that goal I start on cutting.
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I’m looking forward to spring rolling around so I can put myself to the test on a long hike.

In the next couple months I will be moving back to my college town.  When I move I will start planning my garden.

That’s all for now,

Ravn

 

 

Herb Planting!

Good evening,

I decided to start my herb garden indoors.  There was a sale at a home improvement store and so I figured I’d take advantage.  I planted some culinary herbs as well as medicinal.  I hope to plant more in the future.

I planted what I like to call  Scarborough herbs:

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme 

and the rest:

Basil, Oregeno, Chives

Cayenne, Chamomile, Lavender, and Lemon balm

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I was really surpised and happy to find a goji berry plant! I’ve always wanted one to nurture indoors.

I even got a grow lamp so it can receive more rays when the sun isn’t shining through the window at certain parts of the day.

Here is my complete set up thus far:

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It’s pretty modest but it’s a start.  I hope what I have sown will reap successfully.

The links throughout this post are to various covers of Scarborough Fair. It’s one of my favorite songs. It’s so timeless.  I used to play Irish Tin whistle(and mandolin) and this was one of my favorite songs to play (besides Greensleeves).

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

“Are you going to Scarborough Fair:
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Remember me to one who lives there.
She once was a true love of mine.”

 

Journey to CPR/First Aid Certification

Hello,

I really lucked out in that one of the requirements at my new job is for me to be CPR/First Aid certified.  My job will be paying for the class!

The first portion is one I take online,

cpr

and then the other portion I take on March 12th.

Looking forward to some hands-on training. These are very important skills to learn.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

SHTF Fitness Tuesday 2/21/2017

So it’s been 2 weeks since I started working out at the Gym and increasing my caloric intake to 3200 calories a day.  I’ve been going 5 days a week and doing 30min of HIIT cardio twice a week.

Increasing my calories has been really difficult because when I’m under stress or dealing with any sort of depression my appetite really lacks.  Thankfully, I started meal prepping so that I always have a nutritious meal on hand.

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This week I prepped  salmon, sweet potatoes, and a lemon, parsley, garbonzo bean salad. Week before that I prepped chicken breasts, broccoli, and rice.

Drinking my calories has also helped immensely.

Tonight I made a banana orange smoothie with almond milk, oats, whey, maca powder, spinach, and parsley.  I made a full blender of it and so I drank three pints.

I’m happy to say that I have gained 2 pounds per week and intend on keeping that up until I reach my 15lb bulking goal.  At the rate I’m going it should take close to two months.

Perhaps in the future I will share some progress photos.

Anyway, that’s how my training is going so far!

Take care,

Ravn Thor

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DIY Deodorant

Transitioning really opened my eyes to how powerful hormones are and how the body reacts to whatever chemical combination is put into  it or is exposed to.  Transpeople, however, aren’t the only ones who (if they choose to medically transition) are exposed to different hormones.  Everyday, people are unknowingly being exposed to endocrine disruptors that effect the hormone levels and cause a wide variety of health problems.

A few chemicals that are found in our everyday items include:

BPA

BPS

Phthytates

Parabens

and the list goes on.

Endocrine disruptors “mimic or partly mimic naturally occurring hormones in the body like estrogens (the female sex hormone), androgens (the male sex hormone), and thyroid hormones, potentially producing overstimulation.” source  This can lead to hormonal imbalances, obesity, reproductive problems, neurological and behavior problems, early puberty, and cancers.  Check out this entry in Wikipedia, skim through it and be sure to look at the bottom list of sources cited.

Endocrine disruptors can be found in cleaning products, plastics, cans, hygiene products and more.  While it’s difficult to completely eliminate these disruptors, you can limit your exposure to it.

One way of doing that is by making your own hygiene products.

Tonight I made my own deodorant using coconut oil, corn starch, baking soda, witch hazel, vitamin e oil, essential oils and some shea butter.  I followed a simple template at this website.

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I made a mixture of cedarwood, tea tree, patchouli, bergamont, lavender, sage, and rosemary essential oils to scent it.  It’s really fun to make your own signature scents.  I added witch hazel as a way to wick moisture away.

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I was really impressed with how it mixed!

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I recycled my recently emptied deodorant stick and it fit right in.  I tried it on and it felt kind of wet at first, but it surprisingly dried within a minute or two.

In the future I may experiment with more recipes.

Prepping for your body: Prepper Fitness

Taking care of the body is very important when it comes to prepping (and should always be important all around!).  When SHTF, being able to run, hike while carrying large amounts of weight, fight, lift, carry, work, etc a won’t do you much good if you’re out of shape.  You can get in shape at home or join a gym. Whichever works best for you!

Today I re-enrolled at my local Golds Gym. I’ve been weight training off and on for over 4 years. In college I had access to the fitness centers.  After I graduated I was enrolled at another gym for a few months until I lost my job.   It’s been about 4 months since I’ve been at the gym, however, I have kept up with exercising at home. Now that I have a stable income I decided it’s time to go back.

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This morning I got a complimentary fitness assessment and got a base reading of where I’m at currently.

Ravn’s Stats as of 2/7/2017

Weight:  129

Body Fat %: 18

I’m excited to see where I’ll be a month from now.  The trainer at the gym said that I’m what he calls a “hard gainer” and recommended I eat 6-8 meals a day.  I have a few meals prepped already.  Training really helps stimulate my appetite.  He also recommended that I cut down on cardio to maybe 2 times a week for 3o minutes.  I could be over-doing my cardio and burning off that hard earned muscle and setting myself back.  He advised I gain about 15lbs.  My goals are to gain that and then I’ll test myself with a weighted endurance hike in the spring.

A gym really works for me because it gets me out of the house and doing something constructive.  Going to the gym while being trans can be nerve-wracking though.  I pass as a man now, and so the locker room I use is the mens locker room.  I feel a bit of nervousness about it but so far I’ve not encountered anything.  Today I just used the entry way and changed my shoes. I show up already dressed for exercise.  I know you shouldn’t wear your binder when exercising, but I don’t have anything else to wear to hide my chest.  I really hope to get top surgery sometime in the near future.  I’d like to be able to shower right away after a hard work-out, but I’m still unsure if that would be safe there. I do believe there are private showers. I’ll have to feel it out some more and figure out what time of day is the least volume in terms of busyness.

For some folks a gym isn’t really their atmosphere, and that’s okay! There are plenty of different ways to get in shape! Whether it’s doing more outdoor activities or exercising at home, there’s something for everyone.

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When I work-out at home I use this doorway pull-up bar and resistance bands as well as some body weight exercises.  The pull-up bar was a great investment for me because not only can you use it to do pull-ups, but you can use it for sit-ups, push-ups, and dips.  Resistance bands are pretty inexpensive and there are numerous exercises you can do to really feel the burn.

On top of building your body you must fuel your body right too!  I have cut alcohol completely from my diet, and four years ago I quit smoking. I continue to eat clean, but I do treat myself now and then. In the past I had restricted myself too much to where it was unhealthy.

I wrote an article about fitness and nutrition that got published in FTM Magazine: Embodiment and Empowerment through Exercise and Nutrition that goes through some of the things I do and eat.  I also am an avid reader of this website: Muscle For Life.

Having a strong and healthy body is vital for living in the apocalypse or encountering any kind of emergency situation.  If you can think through scenarios but your body doesn’t follow through with the kind of strength, endurance, stamina, and energy it needs, then your chance of survival diminishes. You could really endanger yourself and that of your party.

Until Next Time,

Ravn Thor

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”  -Jim Rohn

 

Refusing to be a Sitting Duck. Defending oneself if you can’t own a firearm.

I have been working on this post all week, and then this happened:

House rolls back Obama gun background check rule

“The Republican-led House voted Thursday to repeal an Obama-era regulation that required the Social Security Administration to disclose to the national gun background check system information about people with mental illness.”

“The rule sought to limit the ability of those with mental illness to purchase guns but drew criticism for casting too wide a net and not providing the opportunity for due process. Opponents of the rule, including the National Rifle Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, also said the broad range of reasons that could be used to designate someone for the SSA database include conditions that should not stop a gun purchase.”

I’m actually relieved about this. However, I have a lot of decisions and reflecting to do.

When people think of or hear about mental illness the first thought that comes to their mind is usually a dehumanizing one.  Media representations and stigma has created a complete misunderstanding of mental health and those who deal with it every day.

I need to lay down some facts and dispel some myths.

Mentally ill more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence, study shows

 

Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

I want to be able to protect myself. I want to be able to hunt for my food. After doing much reflecting and heated discussions with my significant other, this has lead to a bit of existential dilemma.

I mentioned in my first post about having bipolar disorder. Indeed, it is something I did not ask for, but it is something I have learned to cope with and deal with in a healthy way. I take my medication, take care of my body, I do not use drugs or alcohol, I go to the doctor and therapy.  I recently got a well paying job. I graduated college.  I am a productive member in my community and very involved.  I’m stable.  My partner has a .22 rifle and I have never touched it or sought it out because it’s hers.  I have shot guns before, as I have grown up on a farm.  I understand the responsibility of a gun and that it certainly is not a toy. It’s a tool. It’s a weapon.

Check out this study

 

Four assumptions frequently arise in the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States: (1) that mental illness causes gun violence, (2) that psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime, (3) that shootings represent the deranged acts of mentally ill loners, and (4) that gun control “won’t prevent” another Newtown (Connecticut school mass shooting). Each of these statements is certainly true in particular instances. Yet, as we show, notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics. These issues become obscured when mass shootings come to stand in for all gun crime, and when “mentally ill” ceases to be a medical designation and becomes a sign of violent threat.


 

Yet surprisingly little population-level evidence supports the notion that individuals diagnosed with mental illness are more likely than anyone else to commit gun crimes. According to Appelbaum,25 less than 3% to 5% of US crimes involve people with mental illness, and the percentages of crimes that involve guns are lower than the national average for persons not diagnosed with mental illness. Databases that track gun homicides, such as the National Center for Health Statistics, similarly show that fewer than 5% of the 120 000 gun-related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.26


Gun crime narratives that attribute causality to mental illness also invert the material realities of serious mental illness in the United States. Commentators such as Coulter blame “the mentally ill” for violence, and even psychiatric journals are more likely to publish articles about mentally ill aggression than about victimhood.5 But, in the real world, these persons are far more likely to be assaulted by others or shot by the police than to commit violent crime themselves. In this sense, persons with mental illness might well have more to fear from “us” than we do from “them.” And blaming persons with mental disorders for gun crime overlooks the threats posed to society by a much larger population—the sane.

^these are all facts. Facts are still true whether you believe in them or not.

We(my sig o and I) talked about how my owning a firearm would up the percentage of endangering me-myself. I said that it was my choice and my right, and for every gun owner there is that statistic. I told her I trusted myself and that I do not want to be a target or a sitting duck. But my partner pulled this card on me: So, hypothetically, if you did own a gun, you would be ok with increasing my risk of danger?

I did not know what to say that.  She said that if I wanted to own a firearm that we could not live in the same house.

Her points are valid. However, so are mine. Since she already owns a .22, the percentage of danger to us both is already up, because, statistically speaking having a gun in the home increases everyone’s(in the home) chances of gun-related accidents.


I  really wish people would take a look at it from my perspective instead of quickly dismissing me with a label and think of me in terms of stereotypes. It’s frustrating to feel as though I have no right to protect myself at all, on top of my humanity being denied.

Seriously, who wants to be a sitting duck?? Who wants to be dehumanized and seen as ‘other’? Who wants to constantly have to be dependent on other people to ‘protect’ you? Do you know what it feels like to have your rights taken away? Your right to protect your body? When you did NOTHING wrong?  “Sorry, you’ve been diagnosed with (insert any illness here), and that comes with revoking your 2nd amendment right. And here is a heaping helping of stigma and dehumanization to boot! Have fun with all the people who cast you away as a miscreant of society, and be blamed for the majority of violence in this country even though statistically speaking it’s 3-5%….no one wants to own up to the other 95-97% so the finger will be pointed at you.” Furthermore, no wonder people who are struggling with mental health don’t seek out help when they should, because of losing these rights, and also being stigmatized, and dehumanized, and not ever taken seriously or seen as someone worth having around (seriously, people love to demonize the mentally ill and use them as scapegoats.). As far as I’m concerned, people with many diagnosis’ own firearms and they’re fine. Media sensationalizes. If veterans with PTSD can keep their guns, I should be allowed to prove myself competent and responsible to own one too, as it will be my right. And in some states, the ability to appeal and prove ones stability is possible.

According to this new overturning of the Obama Background check bill,  the NRA believes that the determination about who is mentally ill should be left to the courts. I would be okay with a grace period to prove my stability, and I’d even be okay with negotiating on someone else holding my ammo, as long as there is accountability and civility, equity  and humility about it, I’m willing to negotiate.

Anyway, I’m not really interested in this debate anymore. I haven’t made up my mind yet as to whether or not I would buy one now that this law about background checks will pass.  I’m not really interested in a handgun, but more so a rifle to hunt for food.

Anyway, this recent news totally sidetracked my main point of this post, which is how to defend oneself if you can’t own a firearm. (If you’re similar to me, or are a felon, or whatever, no judgement here).

Whenever I’ve talked to some people about mentioning ways to protect oneself without a firearm, I get instantly dismissed and told to just buy a gun. “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight” they say. And they’re right. I’m pretty much screwed. Nobody seems to offer any alternatives however or gives much of a shit. You either can own a gun or you can’t and if you can’t then you’re ostracized and not welcome. That is just the worst feeling. But fuck what anyone thinks. I will find alternatives. My body is a weapon and so is my mind. There has to be some ways.

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Full tang katana, foam practice nunchucks(saving up for metal/wooden), machete, LED flashlight, aersol pepper spray, 600,000 volt stun gun, and pocket knife are what I have so far.

These are just ridiculous  and would be completely useless in a gun fight. It’s hard to not just throw up my hands and say “screw it, may as well not try,”  but that’s where I’m different. I’m resilient and my will to live is very strong. I’d rather do something than nothing. Sigh.

I’ve practiced martial arts off and on for 5 years. I learned Taekwando in college.  Where I reside currently there isn’t much around in terms of a dojo for me to learn.  I’ll keep my eyes open though, and I’ll keep feeding my head. Knowledge is a blade worth sharpening.
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I ordered a better one online, but it somehow ‘got lost’ in shipping. So I got a refund.  Where I live stun guns are legal and require no permit.  The other day I called around to 3 different gun stores to see if they had a stun gun—all three were sold out except for the last store I called. I drove 15min to another town that’s a sister city to my town, and got their last stun gun. According to the fella at the counter, he said they’ve been flying off the shelves.

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In one of my martial arts/self defense classes one instructor discussed how a high powered LED flashlight can be an effective weapon, especially when dark.  A quick blinding flash right in the eyes can give you an upper hand to stun(after blinding, use a move to stun them) and run.

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This pepper spray shoots up to 12 feet.  I’m also considering getting a canister of bear mace.

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Just a general pocket knife.  I’m going to look for something more tactical in terms of self defense.

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These are foam practices nunchucks. I’ve been practicing with them for a couple years. I will be upgrading to a metal or wooden pair in the future.

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Here is a full tang katana blade I bought when I was a teenager. You would think I’m a flippin’ mall ninja.  I don’t match the criteria though. I’m full well grounded in reality, and as I stated above these are pretty much useless if I faced an attacker with a firearm. you know, like in that scene from Indiana Jones.

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Here’s a pretty decent machete that will be good for camping at least.

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When in doubt, blow out an eardrum.

This is what I have so far in regards to weapons.  Exercise and building strong muscles, dexterity, and agility are also among the ways I can protect myself. Being faster and able to run can give me at least a small chance, and learning more self defense/martial arts.  Cameras and recording acts of violence  being committed are a powerful way of self protection in some situations. Using my mind and being able to read situations, how to avoid certain situations, evade, talk my way out of things, are also ways of self defense. i’m honestly not one to go looking for trouble or a fight, I’m also not interested in being a macho man with  ‘something to prove’ in a fight, I’m more interested in surviving and getting away. In my martial arts classes it was taught that the best thing to do in a situation is to get away as fast as possible. Martial arts and self defense aren’t like what you see in movies. And people who use it to talk tough are just  trying to impress and compensate for their insecurities.

The flight instinct is just as powerful as the fight instinct. It takes wisdom to know which one to use.

I have stated in previous blog posts that I plan on moving back to my college town.  When that time comes I will make my decision on whether or not to learn how to operate(taking numerous safety classes) and handle a firearm and purchase one for hunting and self protection. This will be my choice and my right. I do realize that there are perhaps other items/alternatives  I can use, such as crossbows, slingshots, or hunting-grade air rifles. Investing in a strong security system and reinforcing my home with cameras and security windows are other methods too.  I also acknowledge that forming a strong community is another way I can protect myself.  In a community everyone has a role to play. If I don’t have a firearm, a friend might and so do others, and that is their role, whereas I can be a Swiss Army Knife of skills that are just as important and useful.

Either way, my goal of this post is to try to create some bridge of understanding for people in the kind of situation I am in.

I refuse to be a sitting duck.

Until next time,

Ravn Thor

Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own. -Bruce Lee