Keeping the Mind Sharp

Good evening,

Last week I stumbled upon a really fascinating podcast and blog.

You Are Not So Smart

The central theme of You Are Not So Smart is that you are unaware of how unaware you are. There is an old-and-still-growing body of research across several disciplines with findings that suggest you have little idea why you act or think the way you do. Despite this, you continue to create narratives to explain your own feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, and these narratives – no matter how inaccurate – become the story of your life.

You Are Not So Smart is a fun exploration of the ways you and everyone else tends to develop an undeserved confidence in human perception, motivation, and behavior. I hope by reading it and listening to the podcast you’ll rediscover a humility and reconnect with the stumbling, fumbling community of man trying to make sense of things the best we can.

On my 12+ hour total road trip last weekend I listened to quite a few of these casts and found them to be invaluable. When I get paid next month I intend on ordering the books too.

Critical thinking skills are among the many skills one needs in order to survive and thrive in this world. This podcast is definitely a sharpening stone.

Until next time,
Ravn Thor

 

 

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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

 

 

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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Switching up the gears

Greetings and salutations,

I’ve been busy doing a bit of tinkering.  I want to make this blog more structured and interesting. It will help me keep on track too.

Sundays will be Ravn’s Weekly Round-Up

This will be a weekly report of current events (similar to my Reflection posts) as it pertains to me personally and also nationally/globally.

Tuesdays will be SHTF Fitness

This will be an update posts on my journey for top physical condition and also anything regarding fitness/nutrition and its relevance to prepping.

Thursdays will be Practical Skills Cultivation

A post about various survival and practical skills being utilized. Working with your hands, foraging, starting a fire, building, gardening, sustainability,  etc.

Fridays will be Folk Remedy Friday

This will be about growing herbs, making my own medicines, experiments, etc.

Saturdays will be Stockpiling Saturdays

A post about my progress in stocking up on food, water, and other miscellaneous supplies.


That is my rough draft and brain storm as of right now.  If anyone has any suggestions about what you’d like The Transgender Prepper to write about feel free to comment below.

Take care,

 

Ravn Thor

 

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

 

Why I feel so strongly about prepping, part 3: Healthcare

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So, here I am continuing my reflection series.  I needed to do some serious self care this week. I had not been sleeping, and I’ve been fighting some form of infection.

The first executive order as Dictator of the United States was to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (AKA Obamacare).

The order pushes Trumps favorite idea to
” allow insurance companies to sell policies across state lines — by encouraging “the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.”

Health care should not be a capitalistic endeavor. Our lives and health are not commodities to buy, sell, trade, to whichever gives us ‘The best deal’ or whatever.  Health care is a human right.   Scandinavian models of healthcare and Canadian models of healthcare I believe are a direction we should be going. Universal healthcare.  A major con I hear about  it is raising taxes, and people not wanting to pay for other peoples healthcare.
First of all, how much money are we paying to kill people over the ocean? How much money are we paying to bail out banks at our expense of health and well-being?  If a majority of our tax dollars go to killing people and bailing out corporate entities, I see nothing wrong with tweaking it to benefit the citizens of this country. A healthy country with access to basic human needs allows us to not only grow to reach our full individual potential, but to also grow significant progress that benefits the whole. I’d be happy for my money to go toward investing in our health rather than investing on killing people over seas to benefit oil companies or bailing out big corporations/banks.

However, a healthy country is an aware country. A healthy population is difficult to control. Health and awareness are things this new administration is not interested in it’s population having.

Trump plans to eliminate 25 violence against women grant programs as way to cut spending

This is just cruel and unjustified. Considering it’s Trump, I’m not surprised, but that doesn’t make me any less angry. Throwing half the population under the bus to save a few dollars is not leadership for the people. It’s selfishness and cruelty and PULLS US ALL BACK.  Countries that have more equality for women are countries that are in a much better place socio-economically and so on. Norway is one of the most equal countries in regards to gender.

Gender equality is important in its own right.

Development is a process of expanding freedoms equally for all people—male and female (Sen, 2009). Closing the gap in well-being between males and females is as much a part of development as is reducing income poverty. Greater gender equality also enhances economic efficiency and improves other development outcomes. It does so in three main ways:

•First, with women now representing 40 percent of the global labor force and more than half the world’s university students, overall productivity will increase if their skills and talents are used more fully. For example, if women farmers have the same access as men to productive resources such as land and fertilizers, agricultural output in developing countries could increase by as much as 2.5 to 4 percent (FAO, 2011). Elimination of barriers against women working in certain sectors or occupations could increase output by raising women’s participation and labor productivity by as much as 25 percent in some countries through better allocation of their skills and talent (Cuberes and Teignier-Baqué, 2011).

•Second, greater control over household resources by women, either through their own earnings or cash transfers, can enhance countries’ growth prospects by changing spending in ways that benefit children. Evidence from countries as varied as Brazil, China, India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom shows that when women control more household income—either through their own earnings or through cash transfers—children benefit as a result of more spending on food and education (World Bank, 2011).

•Finally, empowering women as economic, political, and social actors can change policy choices and make institutions more representative of a range of voices. In India, giving power to women at the local level led to greater provision of public goods, such as water and sanitation, which mattered more to women (Beaman and others, 2011).

Furthermore, gender equality benefits all the sexes. There is so much propaganda and rhetoric spewed around. I could write an entire essay of the ways gender equality benefits men, women, and so on. I spent the last 4-5 years studying gender and sexuality in college, I know what I’m talking about.

Cutting those programs for women hurts us all and does not make America great.

The attack on Women’s reproductive health by trying to defund planned parenthood is also another thing that’s going to hold us all back. This impacts poor women, rural women, women of color, all women.  Planned Parenthood has been around for 100 years and has saved many lives through cancer screenings, std testing, and yes abortions. The Religious Right’s attack on women’s bodies is not about saving babies. It’s about controlling women’s bodies, and our sex lives. This is a good 2 part video series that dives into the Religious Right’s obsession with attack women’s health care.

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Mad Max: Fury Road–Let’s all have each other’s back. No one gets left behind.

In my first few posts I wrote about preparing for the inevitability of losing my health care.  This is very close to pretty much happening.  So what am I going to do?

I have made plans on moving back to my college town in Minnesota.  This last November,  Minnesota judge overturns state ban on transgender health coverage.  A transman friend of mine moved to the Twin Cities and said that he is on their state insurance.  I am in a few groups on social media for lgbtq in MN and I asked if healthcare there would be safe. Some are saying that they think so.  If I move to MN I would have guaranteed access to trans health care.  I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do about mental health care.  That saved my life.

I’m also planning on growing my own medicinal herbs and making my own medicines.  I exercise pretty regularly and eat healthy majority of the time (aside from the occasional treat every now and then).  During this time (the next four years) I am choosing to abstain from alcohol to keep my head clear.   Staying on top of my health and body is a way for me to resist and a way for me to stay empowered.

I also will be stocking up on condoms, and day-after-pills for my friends.  I have a feeling that it’s only a matter of time before all of this is gone, and we are told by our government that we are only to have cis-hetero-missionary-position-vanilla-sex when married to the ‘correct gender’ for the sole purpose of baby making.

This new administration has so much more in common with ISIS than people care to admit.

If you think I’m exaggerating and that such a regressive religiously backed government regime cannot happen here, look at these pictures:

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Iran 1970s, women were scientists, doctors, etc
Iran 1970s

It wasn’t until I made a friend at college who was from Afgahnistan that I learned about this. She told me about how things were before the Islamic Revolution. I felt really betrayed by my country due to my ignorance–I was never taught about this in schools. Instead I was taught to fear the middle east. They never taught me about how in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, women were leaders, scientists, doctors, scholars, etc.

This is a great book to read about it, especially if you like comic books, this is an authentic voice coming-of-age memoir. Really great. There is also a movie too:

I’m also a little worried that what was supposed to be dystopian fiction has now become something more of a training manual:

So in closing, our health care channels for so many of us are going to be cut. Medicare and Medicaid may very well disappear.  We need to fight this in every way we can, but in the mean time, we need to find ways to survive too.  Keep your bodies full of hearty food and your minds clear.  I’ll keep my pantry stocked with extra helpings.

Until then friends,

Ravn Thor

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

-The Handmaid’s Tale