I’ve just added a new Category named Painting and Drawing. It’s a fairly large category of about 150 books. It’s one I’ve been working on a while and finally got finished up.

It’s a somewhat eclectic collection. The primary subjects covered are, as would seem logical, about Painting and Drawing. Painting covers a multitude of areas however and different people will conjure up different images when they hear the word “painting”. Predominantly the “painting” books are related to paintings such as you would hang on the wall or print in a book; i.e. renderings of reality onto canvas or other media as was common before the advent of photography.

However there are also books on how to paint houses, signs, carriages, walls, etc. Since there weren’t enough of any of those to warrant their own category I left them in this one.

The same basic principle applies to books on Drawing and Sketching. Many of them are related to creative and artistic renderings of reality on paper or other media using primarily pencils and pens. There is a large subset related to military and topographical sketching and drawing which is really a specialized subset of rendering a visual reality onto paper.

In an environment such as a post-EMP world where neither film cameras nor digital devices such as cell phone cameras are easily available people would have to fall back to the methods used through most of human history… making marks on generally flat surfaces using various methods to render a visual representation of something in order to share the image with others. I.e. drawing, sketching, painting.

With “normal” methods of imaging no longer available folks will have to relearn the older methods. The military sketching is included since being able to sketch a view of the land or topography would be essential to such things as locating a building or for obvious military/security operations or even seemingly simple tasks such as laying out a drainage or irrigation system.

Being able to draw a piece of equipment or a tool that you want a blacksmith to manufacture can save a lot of lost effort when there is a communications failure.

Even beyond the more mundane engineering aspects life would be hard in such an environment. Don’t discount the psychological and morale effects of things as simple as color, decoration, being able to put up a mural on a community building wall to celebrate events or simply to promote community spirit.

Even our most remote ancestors painted the walls of their caves. Perhaps as some believe those paintings of animals and hand prints had “religious” significance. I’m inclined to have a little more  respect for them and think they just as likely created those paintings to liven up a hard and brutal world with something to brighten their world a bit.

Fortunately the basic skills taught in these books is not in any way out of date. Drawing has not really changed in most of human history. Paper has improved. Our writing instruments have perhaps gotten better but a pen is a pen and drawing with a pen or pencil today is not much different  from drawing with a pen or pencil several hundred years ago. Painting on canvas or plaster or wood is not radically different from how our remote ancestors painted on cave walls or the great master of painting painted on canvas hundreds of years ago. It’s something of a timeless skill which sadly has been abandoned by most people today.

Whatever you may think about the subject the reality is that in a world where we have lost access to modern technology being able to draw, sketch and paint is a valuable set of skills.

The Librarian


I’ve just added a new Category name Construction.

It was orginally going to be Foundations since several people suggested that category. In my searching though while I found a few books specifically on foundations there were more on general constructions with most of them having a section of chapter dealing with Foundations.

So we’ll just call it Construction rather than make two separate Categories. I’m not sure why there aren’t more on the subject. perhaps there were at one time but the topic was just not sexy enough to attract a lot of interest in scanning them as the began to age. Or perhaps there simply weren’t a lot of books on Construction added to University Libraries. One of the things I’ve noticed over the years at many University libraries is that they often tend to ignore commonplace subjects and concentrate on the more esoteric.

I suppose that makes sense to some extent since most people planning a career in Construction (as opposed to Architecture or Engineering) probably go to work at a Construction firm to learn their trade rather than to an academic environment.
At one time prior to organized Higher Education building a monopoly on “education” individuals went to work as an apprentice with someone already in a trade and learned their skills directly from someone who was actively pursuing that profession. There’s an old adage that runs “Those who can do. Those who can’t teach.” While I know there are a lot of very knowledgeable college professors in specific skills I have had run ins with College professors who too often teach theoretical bias over real world experience.

I’ve seen far too many programmers, for instance, and other technical people come out of college with great technical knowledge but utterly wrong headed ideas about how to actually apply that knowledge in a real world or commercial environment. They, in essence have to relearn much of their programming since what they know and did in school has little to do with real world practices.
There is also the problem of variety or lack thereof. All of the graduates of a College or University program in a specific subject tend to take the same approach based on who their professors were and the emphasis of a specific program determined, in most cases by the department head. In the older apprentice systems every craftsman had a totally different approach based on who their master was and how they were taught. That provided a wide range of diversity in skill sets, ideas, and creativity. I wonder if we’ve lost some of that creativity in our modern approach to “standardized” education?

In a world trying to rebuild after a catastrophe most buildings that remain will be “repurposed” I believe is the modern word. We used to just say Reused but that was apparently not a sexy enough word so they had to come up with a new one. One of the problems with modern buildings is, however, that most of them have been designed and engineered with the assumption that there would be climate control equipment available. We no longer make houses to use natural convection cooling or with transoms to channel hot air from rooms or with double hung windows to adjust airflow for day and night cooling.

Much modern construction also assumes access to power tools and equipment that wouldn’t be easily accessible to people rebuilding in a low tech environment.
So while existing building would be used for some time following a catastrophic event it wouldn’t be long before people would start building from scratch to have buildings more suitable to the level of technology available. Which means looking at older building methods and designs.

These are a start. We often think of concrete as a “modern” material but the Romans used it over 2000 years ago and some of the structures they built with it still stand today.

The Librarian

p.s. There is some overlap between some of the books in this Category and the one sin Stone and Masonry since some of those deal with Concrete as well. I’ve tried to differentiate between books on Construction involving Concrete and ones on Concrete as a discrete material.


And yet another story of Federal government indifference to the 0% to 12% chance that a Solar EMP event could push the entire world back into the 1700-1800s by utterly destroying the power grid, most unshielded electronic and the entire infrastructure that depends on them.

But then I suppose Political Agendas are far more important in both the short and long run than the potential death of 80% to 90% of the population. After all one’s personal empire and power is always more important than the lives of total strangers over which one has no control.

You would think that in light of what the majority of people (and even politicians) accept is a virtual guarantee that a nation whose leaders yell “Death to America!” and Death to Israel!” will soon have nuclear weapons and the ballistic missiles with which to deliver them that the government might take the threat of at least a man-made EMP event more seriously. Especially when the military journals of that country have been openly discussing for over to a decade the advantages of Nuclear EMP weapons as the deciding factor in asymmetrical warfare.

Apparently not however.

I believe I underestimated the importance of Political Agendas and greed for Personal Power. It apparently is a higher priority than even personal survival to the folks in D.C. who have the clout to do something to harden the grid and provide at least a reasonable chance that the country would survive and EMP event.

So just one more demonstration that the Federal government not only couldn’t care less about your and my survival but apparently doesn’t even appear to care about their own. I wonder if that’s listed in the DSM, the diagnostics manual for mental illness, as some sort of Syndrome or Mental Health condition? Is it it treatable?

Take it as another reminder that no one in the federal government considers the threat of an EMP attack or Solar Event worthy of consideration. Maybe they just don’t have the resources considering the vast amount of effort being put into disarming Veterans and Senior Citizens and registering Illegal Aliens to vote.

Bottom line… you’re completely on your own.

The Librarian


Almost every day we hear of a new advancement in the spread of Technology; new capabilities, new ways to control this or that piece of equipment, new functions added, more connectivity, etc.

At the same time we hear about massive hacks into government systems, a break in on an online dating site that caters to people looking for affairs.

Now someone has demonstrated how to take control of a car with a laptop ending up with the car in a ditch. Fortunately it was demonstration and no one was seriously injured or killed. The similar demonstration of hacking into a commercial airliner from a laptop also was also a benign demonstration of capability rather than an actual attack.

But it begs the question of just how much does increasing connectivity and functionality increase the risk of such hacks? How far are we willing to go with Technology and the increasing risk of an individual or group being able to make use of that connectivity in an aggressive or destructive fashion?

For a long time I, along with many others, have been aware of and concerned about the consequences of a Solar or Manmade EMP event that would essentially kill most of the technology upon which our modern infrastructure depends.

Are we reaching the point where it will no longer require something the magnitude of a massive Solar Flare or a high altitude Nuclear detonation? Is our rapidly increasing reliance on connectivity and the Cloud pushing us towards the day where a small number of people or even a single talented individual can do as much damage as a Carrington Event?

We repeatedly hear about Chinese attempts to hack into the U.S. power grid with some reports outright declaring that they have already done so but have not acted to actually cause outages… yet. In the military it’s called Reconnaissance and Intelligence Gathering.

The massive year long breach of government computers in recent news demonstrates that the Federal government itself can’t keep it’s own computers private. Yet we continue to expand connectivity into our cars, our power plants, the power grid, our home utility equipment. And with that increasing connectivity comes increasing vulnerability.

Commercial priorities dictate that the primary concern of new technology suppliers is increased capability and functionality NOT increased security. In the race to provide new and better functions security takes a back seat if it even gets a seat in the room at all.

As the vulnerabilities increase I have to wonder how long it will be before someone pulls the trigger and starts breaking things.

The Librarian


I’ve just added a new, fairly short category named Wood-Carving.

I had started working on it some time ago as I had time. There weren’t a lot of books on the subject but some of them were related to Wood Sculpture which naturally led to Sculpture as a related topic. It turned out, not surprisingly, that there were a LOT of books on Sculpture with most of them relating to classical Greek and Roman Sculpture.

(Question: If we study Greek and Roman Sculpture and we know that the Romans studied Greek Sculpture then what did the Greeks study? Sumerian Sculpture? And if so then what did the Sumerians study? I wonder how far back you have to go before there was some man or woman who sat there looking at a stone and thought “I’m going to invent something completely new in the entire world. I’m going to chip this stone into the shape of a person or animal.”)

Back on topic… as the number of books on Sculpture (i.e. stone sculpture) grew I realized the wood carving books were being rapidly subsumed. When I thought about I realized they were really two totally unrelated subjects. As a woodworker myself it’s useful to know at least some basics of carving when making furniture. It’s not particularly useful or even germane to know anything about stone carving and I seriously doubt that those folks interested in carving chunks of stone into new shapes really care much for woodworking either.

So I pulled the Wood Carving books out of the group, went ahead and did some cleanup on them and am posting them as a quick, short new Category for the weekend.

The whole subject of Sculpture may or may not be particularly appropriate to a Library dedicated to rebuilding after a catastrophe but that’s a hard call to make. I’m not of a particularly creative temperament. I get pleasure out of gazing on the sculpture of Michelangelo and enjoy classical paintings but the few times in my youth when I found myself drawn to creating a painting or drawing I very quickly discovered one my limitations. I have no artistic ability whatsoever and without much hesitation swerved into more technical and intellectual pursuits.

When I’m making a piece of furniture I do want it to look nice and it’s not much harder to make an attractive piece of furniture than it is to make an unattractive, purely functional piece. When you’re in a subsistence level environment being surrounded by attractive items is probably a lot less depressing than being surrounded by attractive ones.

So the entire subject of art and decoration in a post catastrophe world is one I’ve wrestled with occasionally. When the priority is survival and food and shelter and defense is there time and energy for art? My initial inclination is to say “Not just No but HECK no!” But then I’ve been in villages that were just barely on the positive side of subsistence, where starvation was just a single bad storm away or one visit by bad guys and they still decorated their homes, their village, their clothes and everything else around them.

So maybe it’s simply my own lack of artistic talent. In the end I decided to err on the side of inclusion. I may have no artistic talent but others might and remembering the decorations in subsistence level villages I’ve been in maybe it is a more important part of life than I would tend to think. So I’ll continue working on the sculpture collection as time allows and post it when it’s ready.

In the meantime enjoy the short Wood-Carving collection.

The Librarian


Someone recently suggested a new category for the Library… Psychology and Psychiatry.

I don’t know who it was but they obviously are fairly young and know little about either field, otherwise they would realize that both subjects, especially the latter are inventions of the 1900s and didn’t actually exist as “scientific” disciplines in the 1800s.

It does raise an interesting point though. These days the world, at least the Western world, seems to be unable to function without grief counselors, therapists and other emotional support infrastructures. I won’t even get started on the incredible array of psychotropic drugs available these days. It seems like the list of mental illnesses and syndromes treatable by drugs today is a hundred times as large as the entire Diagnostics Manual back when I studied Clinical Psychology in the 70s.

So you have to wonder… if the population of the Western World is so sensitive and fragile and emotionally vulnerable… how did they manage to settle the Western half of the United States? How did they manage to build colonies here in the first place? And how on God’s Green Earth could they ever hope to survive the emotional trauma of a catastrophic event like an EMP or something of that magnitude?

Listening to the mental health gurus on television and in the media you have to conclude that they would not have a prayer without the benevolent therapeutic services of Psychologists and the cornucopia of pills from the Psychiatrists.

But then you pick up a history book and read what has happened in the past. The Germans in 1946 rebuilt a shattered country into an industrial giant. The Japanese took a country virtually burnt to the ground and the target of the two nuclear attacks it took to convince them to stop fighting and in a generation turned it from a burnt out ruin to a major economic power. The Americans who settled this country expanded from the East Coast all the way out to California and in two hundred years turned a wilderness into a the world’s largest economy.

That begs the question then… are the history books wrong? Did those seemingly
normal, weak, sensitive, fragile people actually do those things or was there perhaps a massive, secret, underground army of Psychologists and Psychiatrists secretly medicating and providing therapy for all those folks? Sounds like a bad Sci Fi channel Saturday Night movie.

There’s a book on my reading list called “Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life” whose thesis is that the over medication and over diagnosis of normal human behavior has gotten out of control and needs to be severely reined in. It’s nice to see that finally starting to come to the surface.

The alternative is to make sure that your emergency supplies includes a massive supply of Valiam, Lithium and other common psychotropic drugs.

A lot preppers stock fish Antibiotics as an emergency source of antibiotics which are otherwise difficult to acquire. Do they market Fish Valium?

The Lbrarian

p.s. The widespread availability of fish antibiotics begs another question… why is the supply of antibiotics so tightly regulated when you can buy the equivalent substances at any online pet supply website?


Basketry is one of the new Categories I’ve been working on recently. It’s one of the shorter ones so it got finished before many of the others. I’ve posted it in the Library.

It kind of goes without saying that Basketry is probably a fairly important technology to know or at least have some instructional material in if you are planning to deal with the aftermath of a catastrophic event. So I won’t go into why you really do need to have some idea of how make baskets. If it has to be explained then there’s probably no point in explaining it to start with.

The books in the category are a combination of How-To books teaching both the basics and some more advanced techniques and books on various historical basket making practices.

Generally it’s a good idea to look at historical examples of a craft if you’re trying to learn it. The historical examples, i.e. how particular groups of people did it, are generally the end result of generations of trial and error and refinement of design. In other words if various groups of people all made some type of basket in a similar way there’s probably a darn good reason for it and you’d be well advised to heed their example… otherwise you end up relearning what they have already learned and probably doing the hard way.

I ran across an article the other day by a doctor who worked in Haight-Ashbury in the 60s and early 70s and he said that one of the things that still astounds him is the wide variety of diseases and other afflictions among the “hippie” population that most modern doctors had never seen before since they had disappeared generations before. His observation was that these conditions had reappeared because so many of the young people had rejected not only major parts of modern life which they disliked but also the traditional diet and hygiene practices which had helped rid mankind of many of the diseases and afflictions of earlier times.

The lesson there is that its all well and good to try to learn a new technology or skill from scratch but pay attention to the way your forefathers did it because there was probably a darn good reason they did it that way.

The Librarian


Something hit me when I was working on the first set of M-Discs that someone ordered. When Ii calculated the price for them I realized I was using the price of regular Blu-ray Discs which are much less expensive than M-Disc media. The M-Disk Media is, in fact, almost 5 times the cost of regular Blu-ray.

As I was verifying the disc, comparing it to the original image, it struck me that if there was no significant difference in price then why not use them instead of regular Blu-ray discs? When I went back to my records to look at when I ordered them it suddenly hit me what I had done, calculating the price based on the cost of regular Blu-ray discs.

I’ve adjusted the price accordingly. Unfortunately the prices of the Blu-ray M-Disks are still pretty high. Hopefully they will come down over time but right now they demand for and get a premium price.

I’ve adjusted the prices of the DVD and Blu-Ray sets as well. Since the Blu-ray discs hold so much more it takes a lot fewer discs to hold the library so the media cost and the time to make them is proportionally lower.

The Librarian


I’ve added two additional options to the Library on Disc page.

Complete Library on 6 single layer Blu-ray Discs

Complete Library on 6 M-Disc single layer Blu-ray Discs

Single Blu-ray discs hold about 25 gb of data so they make a good storage media for something the size of the Library. The primary media is DVD since DVD drives are all but ubiquitous and just about any PC or laptop made int he last 10 years has a DVD drive on it.

Blu-ray drives are much less common though many people do opt for them in order to play Blu-ray videos and as a high density storage media. They are much less common than DVD drives however.

The M-Disc DVD and Blu-ray media by Milleniata is purported to last up to 1000 years since they use non-organic materials to manufacture the discs. They do point out that they are just as susceptible to high temperatures as standard discs so leaving them in a car on a hot dashboard is probably not a good idea.

I have not included an M-Disc DVD option since the lowest price for an M-Disc DVD is over $2 which would make an M-Disc DVD copy of the Library cost close to $75 just for buy the media. Having experimented with M-Disc a bit I’m seeing a much higher failure rate trying to etch the discs and they have to be burned at a much lower speed than conventional discs. Even then the failure rate is much higher than standard discs.

So we have some new options for those interested.

The Librarian




I’ve finally gotten pretty well caught up with DVD orders this week and the last couple that have been ordered will got out by the end of the week at which point I’ll actually be ahead a bit. I’m going to make some Blu-ray sets available as well as soon as I get them thoroughly tested. That will include some M-Disc Blu-ray sets as a further option.


Several people have suggested putting the Library on M-Discs since they are purported to last 500-1000 years. I’ll make them available as an option for the Blu-ray sets but not for the DVD sets. The M-Discs (both DVD and Blu-ray) cost between $2.50 and $3.00 each and while that’s not significantly different from the cost of regular Blu-ray discs it’s a LOT more than standard DVDs. A full set of 31 DVDs in M-Disc would cost around $60-$75 dollars just for the discs themselves which makes them excessively expensive. So while I’ll make M-Disc copies available for the Blu-ray sets I’m not going to bother on the DVD side. I expect most people are copying the DVDs onto alternate storage medium anyway.

Dislike of Preppers:

I’ve run across a lot of articles and news stories expressing contempt, dislike, amusement and general lack of respect for people who could be classified as “Preppers” and I finally figured out why that is.

If you’re not a prepper and you encounter folks who are or encounter articles and news stories about people who are there are really only two possible reactions you can have:

1. Their fears are groundless (obviously… because you aren’t worried about it) therefore they are all crackpots and crazy people.

2. Their concerns are justified and therefore your own lack of preparation for an emergency is completely inexcusable.

When I did the interview with NPR back a couple months ago one of the folks involved in the technical setup of the hookup between here and the studio in DC thought I was a “crackpot”.

I thought about the large number of highly respected and highly educated Physicists, Electrical Engineers and scientists in other disciplines, Political Leaders, Military Leaders, Historians and a large host of people who most of the world respects and listens to who also see both Solar and Manmade EMP events as a potentially Catastrophic event the likes of which the world has never seen.  We’re talking about an event which a Congressional Study concluded would result in the deaths of between 80% and 90% of the population.

So why then did this gentleman conclude that I was a crackpot unless he considers all of those other folks who are vastly more knowledgeable on the subject than he was to be crazy as well?

It’s quite simple really. If he accepted that what we were saying was, in fact, a real threat to him as well as everyone else then he would have absolutely no excuse to continue his existing lifestyle and behavior. He would, by dint of new information, have to change his way of life to the extent necessary to actually make some concrete plans and preparations in case such an event occurred. He would have to deal with uncomfortable facts.

None of us like change. We all would prefer to go on with a comfortable life with which we are content. Like so many people it’s easier to just dismiss or ignore those things which would force us to change.

As someone said “You can ignore reality all you like however it won’t ignore you.”

I think that explains a lot of what’s going on in the political and social world as well.

The Librarian