Coping: With Altitude Adjustments

Major changes in the world…and some are going on in remote mountain areas.

My buddy Gaye Levy (and her Survival Hubby) are on now genuine Mountain People.  Gaye recently retired from  Unable to relax, she’s already writing a new site at

Having done “all things prepper” she wants to focus on the more strategic aspects of life.  Long-term Urban readers will remember we collaborated about five years ago on the book 11 Steps to Living a Strategic Life: A Guide to Survival During Uncertain Times.

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Her site previous site (BackDoor) many of the basic prepping kinds of things we mentioned on the fly here (from 1997 through 2000-something) and really developed them as stand-alone concepts.  She produced great content and is responsible for getting a LOT of people more prepared for come-what-may.

Life is, however, broader than prepping your behind off.  There’s the matter not just of living, but living well.

What does strategic living mean?  Well, there were 11-steps when we reviewed the field half a dozen years ago (in the book) but I think we agree now that times have changed – and so has the definition of strategic – in tandem.  Some if obvious (income, education, self-reliance (and the sub-list there), but some is not.

I’ve got a questionnaire off to her – since she is a character with some interesting observations about society…so we’ll pass that along when it comes in…

Her adventure is hers except that since she (and SH) have moved to a high mountain region of what Art Bell used to refer to as “the Great American Southwest” Gaye and hubby are adapting to high altitude life.  We find that interesting.

Since both of us are ex-Seattle lowlanders, I don’t think either of us has really done a piece focusing on some of the lifestyle adjustments that go with living a mile (or more) above sea level.

Take food.  Right now, Gaye’s going though the process of “adjusting” her baking.  I’m  not sure I followed everything she explained in our weekly Skype, but apparently there is a  change of chemistry of baking the higher you go.  A bit more water, and since that boils at a lower temp in the mountains, you cook longer….well, that’s one aspect they’re adjusting to.

Another was discovering when their water heater needed replacement that such things have to be “tuned” for the altitude.  Since we’ve always considered ourselves just shy of journeymen in electrical, plumbing, carpentry, and so forth, this was news to us.

Turns out there are a number of aspects to high altitude hot water.

On the electrical side, since water boils at a lower temperature as the altitude increases, the element thermostats have to be adjusted down and the pressure relief valves are different…And that’s just with electric water heaters.

If you plan to use propane or natural gas in them thar hill, there’s another set of quirks hav ing to do with how gas burns at altitude.  See: for a useful article.

Whether you’re cooking (or setting up a water heater) this bit of science explained from the US Dept. of Agriculture (Food Safety)  website is useful knowledge:

As atmospheric pressure decreases, water boils at lower temperatures. At sea level, water boils at 212 °F. With each 500-feet increase in elevation, the boiling point of water is lowered by just under 1 °F. At 7,500 feet, for example, water boils at about 198 °F. Because water boils at a lower temperature at higher elevations, foods that are prepared by boiling or simmering will cook at a lower temperature, and it will take longer to cook.”

This is really good news if you burn yourself as you desperately slurp that first necessary(!) slug of coffee in the morning and burn yourself.

By our calculations, if McDonald’s could build all their drive-throughs at 26,000 feet, then the serving temp of their coffee would be no higher than…uh…160-degrees and that might prevent lawsuits from coffee that’s too hot.  Where were we?

Oh yes:

We talked about how Gaye’s experiment with a “thermal cooker” had gone.  I don’t know if you have seen these on Amazon, but it seems like one of those passing mini-fads in the prepping world.

The sales pitch was that you could cook in this device which had a ton of thermal mass and only apply heat for about half the cooking cycle and the thermal mass would “coast the cooking:” process (through heat retention) long enough to finish.

I asked how this was any different from putting a crock pot in space blankets and turning it off early…but the maker’s claim some magic, or other.

Well, no, there’s not really any magic, she reports.  Nice theory and all, but a couple of attempts at stews and such and things were a train wreck.

Since we’ve been friends since 1973 – and since she is the official holder of the boeuf bourguignon recipe we have both used since then (she gets inventor creds), if she says the thermal mass cooker ain’t happening for our kind of meals, I can take that to the bank.

I suppose something starchy might work…but high quality stew meat?  Needs heat, my friend, needs heat.

The GOOD news is  – high altitude or otherwise – there is something new that really rocks meals like our beef stews.  It’s called the Instant Pot Duo 7-in-1 Multi-Use Programmable Pressure Cooker, Slow Cooker, 6 Quart | 1000W and it runs ab out $100 bucks at Amazon.

What makes this cool is it gives you the cooking speed of a pressure cooker, but also (when desired) you get the bennies of a crock pot/slow cooker at well.  Now we’re getting somewhere.

High altitude, or not, Gaye’s experiments with brown rice have been coming out perfect every time.  Remember that a pressure cooker pushes the boiling temp of water UP, which is why pressure cookers cook faster than normal air pressure cooking units.

There are several other adjustments to high altitude living that Ms and Mr. Strategic-Living are going through.  Mr. for example, is not jogging around the golf course as fast.   It doesn’t seem to have slowed Gaye’s keyboarding speed, though.

I forgot to ask about impact on the dog.

Elaine and I have been trying to think of something to get them (other than an oxygen tank and AED) but nothing seems “just right.”

Honestly, a bulldozer for use during fire season sounded pretty cool until I checked prices.  Think of a Tesla price point that eats diesel but can push over trees if needed.  Used.

For now, we’re just collecting high altitude coping strategies, tricks, and so forth.  Yes, we know that modern  air mass sensors on fool-injected vehicles take care of altitude adjustments, but we still miss the mixture control of the airplane.

Then it struck us!  Maybe  we could take a drill to the dashboard of their car…and put in a mixture adjustment?  Ye sir!  That’d be a find surprise for ’em…and maybe they’d get used to it!

Send in your ideas.  We’re planning a trip out west to  visit (if Panama has enough time for house/cat sitting this summer).

I can hardly wait to get Survival Hubby out on the local golf links.  I’m damn near certain that with the thinner air my tee shots should go another 300 yards further, or more,…

Or not.

Life of Wryly: Who Walks Their Talk?

There’s an old Ure family saying.

“You can tell a confused person:  They will either act republican and talk democrat, or t’other way around.”

Today’s spotlight is on George Clooney, who has made something of a democrat name for himself, making up to $233-million selling his tequila company.  Not at republican as Trump vodka, but near ‘nuf.

Oh!  Henries!

Not, no the old dude from Eng. Lit.  Nor the candy bar.  No, sir, this is my new 4-16 henry swinging choke for our Hallicrafters Ht-45 (Loudenboomer) linear amplifier restoration project:

That 10 pounds of smart core and winding that says Peter Dahl on it was not free.  About $240 with shipping and a 7 week lead time via DigiKey.  But there it is.  Pretty huh?  (More pictures are threatened as the project comes along.)

(If you began to gag, you’re in good company, Elaine’s reaction was about the same…and she has a ham radio license!)

The difference between the men and the boys?

“The sound of their voice and the price of their toys.”

Ham radio amplifier overhauls even with custom made parts don’t even touch airplane annual inspections, though.  Nor Porsche carb balancing nor the annual sailboat haul-out and bottom paint.  This really IS a bargain…

Write when you get rich (or break par),

26 thoughts on “Coping: With Altitude Adjustments”

  1. George in our area we can buy an old d4 7u cat with manual angle blade with a winch for around $4-7000. A great deal on a machine that is simple, needs little work,and will last for a couple of lifetimes.

  2. I’ve always had more luck picking out appropriate house gifts after I’ve scoped out the house in question. Looking forward to some strategic follow-up after your trip.

  3. We lived in C-Springs, CO back in the 90s. I also endured USAF survival school for several weeks in Spokane, WA and a week in the Colville National Forest in N. Washington State many years ago. High altitude is a challenge in survival situations, let alone with day to day living. Engines big and small need their carburetors adjusted to work at high altitude – most new car models are set at the local dealers, some makes even adjust automatically now to a certain max altitude. And it’s not just baked goods and carburetors that need adjusting. When I moved to C-Springs, I was active duty at the time. Service members were given a six month reprieve from taking our fitness tests so that the circulatory system (and brain) could adapt to the higher altitude. You’ll get sunburned quicker the higher up you go, e.g. atmospheric pressure is approximately 40-45% less at 5000 feet above sea level than at the beach. Climb Mt. Whitney and you better take along some SPF 50 sunscreen.

  4. Congrats on your friends moving far above sea level! I’ve loved it for decades, though it’s not for everyone.
    I would caution that the sun is very intense up here – especially in the month before and after the summer solstice. I found 1200 IU of vitamin E helps, though that’s just my personal experience.

    I’d suggest that a good working skidsteer is the most useful single machine to own, rather than a bulldozer. It is more versatile and doesn’t tear things up as much. Just respect the machine and learn how to use it safely.

  5. I’ve followed Gaye and Hubby as well over there on the Backdoor site, and have signed up for their new site. I’m interested in how they make that transition. I also wish I could do the same… Austin is fricking HOT right now… and getting worse.

  6. This is in regard to your dim view of thermal cookers. Yes, enclosing a slow cooker with some sort of thermal wrap amounts to the same thing, but the slow cooker needs electricity first. The point of acquiring a thermal cooker (or making one) as a prepper item is its usefulness in a grid-down situation, where the only fuel will be biomass. Unless you live in a forest, it’s a fuel source you’ll want to conserve. So a thermal cooker is a good idea in that case. It’s also helpful for those who still have utilities but are very strapped for money and need to cut corners whenever they can. Conservationists might also like them just on general principles. They’re handy for RV boondockers (my case). I’ve successfully used a thermos bottle, which has a similar function, as a yogurt incubator. However, Gaye’s experience is certainly a valuable warning for those in higher altitudes. But for the rest of us low-lifers, a thermal cooker can be useful.

    • I have an early model before the tech/buzz/amarketers came long. Called a cast iron Dutch oven…

  7. George,
    You didn’t mention Field Day is this weekend. Our club is trying something new this year, we will be setting up in a parking deck. 7 levels and the antenna’s will be on the open top level and we will setup the radios on the 6th level out of the sun, rain, and it seems 10 degrees cooler in the shade on the deck. We will see how this works out and have fun.

  8. Peter W. Dahl Co…. the finest custom transformers made. I had them custom make a three-phase HV transformer for a 20kw broadcast transmitter once. Glad it wasn’t MY money!

  9. Here in Vilcabamba at 5,000 feet, we live and die with our pressure cookers. Some things simply cannot be cooked without destroying it in an open pan.

    Latest thing is the electric pressure cooker. It is computerized so the water inside does not boil off like a regular pressure cooker. My wife runs hers twice a day most days, it never leaves the counter. Insta-pot from Amazon. Check it out.

  10. Field Day tomorrow for all the amateur radio aficionados out there. Find your local group and have some fun

  11. Game over. 7 years max left, enjoy while you can.

    This comment get it.

    “My money is on 2021. I work at a casino. I’ve got a pretty good grasp of the probability sets in play. 2025 assumes that the sociopaths won’t kill each other for food. Ain’t happening, bud.?

    Extinction will happen faster than that. We’ll all be gone no later than 2021. The nuclear-powered empires will not handle famine and food riots any better than Syria did.?”

  12. Hearts, hearts are affected with altitude, if that’s not a problem then that kind of living can actually be a health strategy for life. Fresh air, sunshine, wild life, peace and quiet with lots of like-minded folks.

      • Okay ,everybody who’s thinking,,,,,,,, I just thought of it now if you can do that with a thermos and you’re not using any outside heat or Cooling for 24 to 36 hours can’t you imagine making a vacuum refrigerator or freezer or have your greenhouse underlayment with a high r. Value and underground water tanks heater or cooled in a vacuum thermos like structure to be releasing the cold or heat when.needed, YES this could be the new battery source for heat and cold needs yeah you wouldn’t use hardly any electricity from a battery to keep your freezer going at zero degrees because it would be in a vacuum the only part that would transfer is the lid so yeah sounds like the energy companies don’t want you to think about a thermos refrigerator or freezer ,or heater for that matter

      • I know that when I do hook my solar up I can run my freezer at the highest setting and let it run all day while the sun’s out and then it last all night and part of the next day before I have to plug it in again as long as it’s not opened but just think what you could do if it was in a vacuum seal yeah yeah go figure

      • And just imagine if you had a big house or a green house that was in a vacuum and you were growing food it would grow bigger because it’s in a vacuum, combined with pyramid energy electrical energy that makes things or magnetic energy that makes things grow even more so combined vacuum with magnetix hey we got a power source and also we have things that grow enormously and also we have a heat source and a cooling source wow vacuums and magnetism because under vacuums magnetism does not get hot that’s one of the ways they make things that run off the electrical yeah you know you heard it before but anyway yeah there you go thanks buddy for the thermos Idea, you just got me clicking there a little bit , and may all beings be lovingly fulfilled so be it

      • Now to test all the other wavelengths through a vacuum weather its nuclear energy mind energy anyway you can go online and get a list of all the wavelengths of energy of everything that manifest everything has a wavelength a vibration right in other words so if we use these different vibration rates find out what does go through vacuums and what doesn’t that would be interesting George great subject I’m interested in that what will penetrate vacuums as far as the vibrational rate goes I never did do that study

      • Or does it do the quantum thing where it’s actually there before you thought it was there so it replaces the space where your thought was going to be so that’ll be the interesting part is can it penetrate vacuums can the quantum physics penetrate vacuums I mean I would just say yeah sure off top my head I thought yeah sure why not because it goes around in a full circle another words you can be in more than one place at the same time multi-dimensional multi Universal and then with the time travel thing going on yeah gosh are we going to just automatically change direction I remember the other day it was it last month or so where are The Far Side Institute a few of them had predicted that the Oroville dam was going to you know explode or implode or something like that and it didn’t sell that to me means fat somebody somewhere in our Navy Marine Air Force system is able to continue the change the time travel Dimensions so that when there is bad outcomes they determine take another route that’s why we have the Mandela effect okay enough on that have a good day

      • Even the Mandela effect is controlled by the wingmakers except to a degree and that degree is the spirit soul even though they (wingmakers)are changing the outcome every chance they get to ,there future ambitions the outcome keeps changing back and forth to the spirit Souls, and to the wingmakers, hence the ying and the yang,

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