Many Thanks

The last month has been a tough one, financially. My girlfriend has been allowed to reopen her business, but we had to spend a lot of money to meet new regulations arising from the pandemic. Unfortunately, the lockdown means that there is very little custom, so I suspect it will be a long time before we recover the monies spent. All this has left me so short of money I could not visit my lady. 

Therefore I would like to extend a special and heartfelt thank you to the few of you that brought books over the last couple of months. The IRS took a big bite, as usual, but the little I did receive in royalties was certainly significant in keeping me out of the red. Some of you brought the recently updated new edition of “Crash Combat”. The Global edition of “Attack, Avoid, Survive” also took some takers, which is pleasing. I will keep the original edition on sale, but the Global edition has been significantly extended, so I recommend considering this version. I am a little disappointed that “Survival Weapons” has not seen any recent sales. This is an informative and useful book, and I think it should have received a much wider audience than it has. 

As for my fiction stuff, let us just say level of sales has been consistent. A pity, since those who have read “Anatopismo” have enjoyed it and been very positive about it. Certainly not the worst novella that you will ever need. “Hell-Ay: Angel Town” was always going to be a bit of a niche book, but it seems its potential market has yet to discover it. Perhaps I should have pitched it as a travel book or tourist guide! A friend enjoyed the jokes and satire, so not a total loss.
Once again, thank you to those of you who have made purchases or have been kind enough to donate keep the blog running. If you have enjoyed the books or articles, or found them useful, please spread the word.

Compact Living Revisited

Recently I read a sci-fi where it was described that a single individual’s living space was 200 square feet (just under 19 square metres). In many parts of our world this would be considered quite luxurious. Nevertheless, this got me thinking about strategies for compact living, once again.
In my previous article, I talked about maximizing natural light. I may not use curtains, but I did nag my landlord into fitting blinds in the living room. This room is south-facing, so sunlight is sometimes a problem on my computer and TV screen. I had asked for Venetian blinds (under orders from the girlfriend). Instead, he fitted roller blinds. These fit the criteria I specified in my previous article. They block the light when needed, yet provide no obstruction to lighting when not used.
An area that was not considered in the previous article was the bathroom. Most bathrooms I have known were close to minimum size already. (I imagine in Texas they probably have bathrooms you need to drive around!). As long as one side of the room is more than a metre and a half, I would like a bathtub. Mainly I shower, but sometimes my kidney or back bother me and a soak is welcome. Recently my washing machine broke down and my tub got used for laundry. A bath with a shower takes up little more room than a stand-alone shower. For smaller spaces, a deep, Japanese-style furo bath (with a shower fitting) might be practical. 

All a bathroom really needs is a sink, toilet and a bath and/or shower. Perhaps enough floorspace to undress or redress. You are unlikely to need all three facilities at the same time, so perhaps a folding sink can make more effective use of available space, folding out either over the bath or over the toilet. Some Japanese toilets feature a basin on the top of toilet tank.
The smallest configuration of bathroom has a toilet and sink, with a shower-head. The whole room serves as a shower cubicle, with a floor-mounted drain.
A mirror on the wall is not only useful, but creates the illusion of greater room and improves lighting. A sliding or outward opening door creates room.
A floor-mounted drain is a useful feature for any design of bathroom. A bathroom should also be well-ventilated too. 

A small kitchen can be more efficient; it saves on unnecessary walking and reaching. Ventilation is an issue for small kitchens, however. Rather than a separate, enclosed room it may be better to have an open kitchen area, perhaps with a breakfast bar that can also be used for food and cookware storage. A sliding partition may be used to isolate the kitchen area if necessary. Space-saving features for a kitchen include a sink and stovetop that can be covered by a working surface. Due to the noise, an open kitchen is not a good location for a washing machine. If there is room, this may be better located in the bathroom.

Most places that I have lived have seemed short on storage space, no matter what their size. If you have a small room, rather than thinking of it as a small bedroom or spare room you may be better treating it as a large closet. Chances are you were using it for storage already. Go the full-hog and fit it with shelves, clothes rails, stackable boxes, ceiling hooks for bags and so on. Remove or sell furniture and items in this room that do not contribute to storage space.
This leaves the living area, which may double as the sleeping area. Some options for this were discussed in the previous article. A sofa bed is probably the most space-efficient option. A sofa that provides storage space for a Japanese futon and bedding is another option. A murphy-bed is a possibility, but occupies a large area of wall space that cannot then be used for many other purposes. I have a soft spot for cot beds, which seem to me somewhat more hygenic than traditional mattresses. A cot bed is light enough to be stood on end against a wall or side of a wardrobe when not in use. If beds are packed away during the day, storage space will be needed for bedding.

For a single person’s dwelling, a sofa meets most seating needs. If long enough, it can serve as your bed, even if not a sofa-bed. If extra/ alternate seating is needed, folding chairs are worth considering. Storage boxes, with cushions, can also serve as seats. Cushions should be removable so that boxes can be used as steps to reach high storage areas. Obviously such boxes should be capable of taking your weight. A lightweight step-ladder is a good investment if you utilize the tops of shelving units and cupboards for storage. A folding table maybe useful if you need a desk or want to host a dinner party. Space under non-folding tables can be used for storage boxes.
Fitting shelves with doors gives you space to display paintings and photos without reducing storage space.

A Walk to the Park: Lessons Learned.

The other day I went for a walk. As it turned out, I was overly ambitious. Due to lockdown and other issues, I have not got out of the house much recently, and this has had more of a toll than I anticipated. After about the fourth or fifth mile my feet were aching, and worse, my hip joins were giving me considerable trouble. I was not able to walk properly for several days after.
One of my excuses for making this trip was I wanted to test a pair of shoes for this blog. About halfway into the walk I realized this was not practical. I have flat feet and torn tendons. In other words, my feet are atypical and whatever I experience, good or bad, is not relevant to most readers.
However, the day did yield a few lessons and observations that I thought I would pass on.
One thing I discovered is that I have lost some weight over the past few months. Normally this would be a good thing, but it meant my trousers were loose on me even with the belt drawn to the last notch. The shoes I was using also had less heel than my usual boots, which meant my trouser bottoms were catching and dragging on the ground. Rolled up, they would not stay up! I resorted to the safety pins in my EDC. I only had two, so this was only partially successful. Conclusion: add more safety pins to the EDC kit. At least half a dozen.
I could have used the two long cords in my pocket to improvise braces for my trousers. I was nearly at my destination by the time this occurred to me.
I was running late that morning, and was keen to get out. Thus, I forgot some things that might have been useful. I only realized that I had forgotten my iPod when I heard some idiot sqwarking down their phone. More importantly, perhaps, I should have added some boiled sweets to my bag. I had planned to buy something for breakfast along the way, but with lockdown there were fewer places open and I didn’t seem to get a chance. Keep a stock of sweets for travelling at “base camp”, and don’t eat them all watching the telly!
The second lesson from this is “make a list”! Do not just have a packing list for when the balloon goes up or the zombies arrive, but one for more mundane expeditions too.
If, like me, you have several rucksacs and daysacs, a practical idea is to have a box with your “rucksac things” in. When you get home, empty your rucksac paraphernalia into the box. When you head out, select items from the box and load them into whatever pack you have decided to use. And have a list! Not everything you might want will be in the box; at least one of my water-bottles lives in the fridge. Similarly, you pick and choose from the contents of the list. Warm hat and gloves may be low priority in summer, for example.
What I did remember to add to my pack was a bottle of water, my boonie hat and a rain-poncho. The hat was for if it was really sunny; it wasn’t. The poncho, on the other hand, got used several times. This was my first time trying this particular one out and it came through very well. It is very light (240 g, in stuffsack) and was quick to unpack and put on. I also like that it covers my daysac as well as myself. Another feature that endears it to me is the stuffsack is so sized that it does not take a mastership of origami to get the poncho back in.

Multi-role solid-state communication and repair system.
Incidentally, I have made another modification to my EDC kit. Originally it did not contain a sewing kit. My travel sewing kit has seen a lot of use over the years, so I decided some sewing capability should be in the EDC. The weight of a single needle and thread is negligible, yet potentially very useful. In fact I have added two. One is a standard needle with about a metre of doubled invisible thread already attached. The other is a larger needle with just over half a metre of doubled stouter thread. I would have used dental floss for this normally, but had some kevlar cord from Shomer-tech that I wanted to try out. Both needles have been threaded beforehand and are carried taped to the side of my pencil. I gave them a few score strokes of a magnet so they may also serve as a navigation aid.