Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas Everyone!

It's christmas morning, there is a beautiful layer of white powder on the ground and I couldn't feel more cheerful.  This is the time of the year to cherish you loved ones and appreciate what you have, no matter how much or how little it may be.  Learn to be grateful, because there is always someone who is worse off than you.  Don't dwell on the negative or be upset that you didn't get the gift you wanted.  The simple things in life are always the best.  Material possessions mean nothing if you have no one to enjoy them with.  So go out and live life in the moment. I don't know about you guys, but I'm going to go grab a trash can lid and do some hobo sledding.

Stay safe and have fun guys.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week

Just a short post today to recognize that it is nation hunger and homeless awareness week.  There are tons of people less fortunate than us and they deserve a helping hand every now and then.  I encourage all of you to Donate to the nation coalition for the homeless, or go find a homeless person and give them something.  It doesn't need to be money; give them some food and a blanket, maybe some clean socks.  I'm sure they will appreciate anything you have to offer.  Just remember that while you are reading this, there are people freezing and starving to death, possible on the same block as you.

"As much as we need a prosperous economy, we also need a prosperity of kindness and decency."
-Caroline Kennedy

Friday, November 11, 2011

Cold Weather Survival Techniques

Okay everyone it's time for a little science lesson.  It's getting colder out so I feel obligated to school you a little bit on cold weather survival techniques.  A few things I want you all to learn about:

Skin cover + wind chill
Heat Capacity
Energy + muscle physiology

I suck at intro so I’m going to get right to it.  Skin cover is fairly straight forward concept.  If it is cold out, you don’t want to have you skin exposed to the environment.  What you want to think about though, is what kind of skin cover you are getting.  One of the functions of clothing is to trap a bubble of heat between and the outside world.  Your body is constantly giving off heat through your skin.  Your clothing is what determines whether that heat is lost or salvaged.  I was once told that if you feet get cold, cover you head.  Because there is so much blood pumped your head to feed your brain, you lose up to 75% of you heat through your head.  In cold environments, the cold air will cool the temperature of the blood in your head, and then that cold blood is pumped to the rest of your body.  So even if a part of your body is thoroughly insulated, its can still get cold.  If you have a good insulating layer on around your head and core, you can maintain homeostasis in extremely cold environments.  However, wind chill can ruin that for you. For you noobs, wind chill is the idea that the faster the wind is, the colder the air will feel on your skin.  So depending on the wind, if it is 20 degrees out it could potentially feel like 0 degrees outside.

Before we get into that lets have a quick lesson in heat capacity.  Basically, heat capacity is a quantitative measure of how well an object or substance retains heat.  The two important examples here are air and water.  Water has a much higher heat capacity than air.  That means that it is takes much more thermal energy to raise the temperate of water than it does to raise that of air.  The reason it is so important to stay dry when it is cold out is because water will steal a bunch of heat from your body to acclimate itself to your temperature.   The same thing happens with cold air, but it just not as bad.  However, with wind chill there is a much higher volume of air hitting your body.  This means that you are stripped of your thermal energy much faster as more and more cold air hits you.  If you have any exposed skin while there is harsh wind chill, the cold air can literally strip all the heat from your skin until you get frost bite. 

Frost bite is when the temperature of your skin goes below the freezing temperature of water.  This causes the water in your skin cells to freeze and crystallize into sharp fragments of ice.  Frost bite “burns” because these sharp fragments of ice rupture the your skin cell walls and kill the cells, similarly to how the skin cell ruptures from the cell water boiling can causing the cell to burst open during a burn.  The most important thing I can tell you about frost bite is to never ever rub it.  If you rub it, you will feel warmer, but what is actually happening is you are rubbing all those tiny fragments of ice into more skin like sandpaper, and it will literally turn your flesh into a dead hamburger meat like substance.  The second thing I should tell you is not to warm up and short term, if you are only going to be exposed again.  If you get frost bite and then warm up, the ice will liquefy back to its normal state, which is good.  But, if your skin warms up and then gets cold again before healing, the ice crystal will reform ever worse not that cellular walls are breached, and the simple freezing and unfreeze will have the same effect as rubbing the ice crystal into your skin.  Dead skin and infections.  Here is a picture of some very mild frostbite, notice how it looks like a burn.  Serious frostbite will result in black skin.

Hypothermia is when your body’s core temperature drops below the required temperature for adequate metabolism.  Metabolism is a set of chemical reactions that breaks down food into utilizable nutrients to feed the body.  Without metabolism, you body can’t functions.  Think of metabolism as your car engine.  Even if you have gas (food in your stomach); without an engine the car won’t run.  So, when your core temperature cools down, you body panics and goes into overdrive.  You body will begin to shiver.  When your muscles contract they produce heat.  This is one of the reason your sweat when you work out.  Shivering is just a fancy term to describe rapid muscle contraction for the sole purpose of producing heat to warm the body.  Shivering is an extremely inefficient use of resources, because its wastes a ton of energy.  Regardless though, wasting energy is better than dying, so your body will do it to keep you alive.   I’m telling you all this because it’s likely that you will find yourself in a situation where you are unable to provide your body with adequate shelter and insulation from the cold.  If you know ahead of time that this will have, pack as many calories as you can into your body so there are plenty of nutrients for your body to waste.  This is kind of a last ditch effort to stay warm, but it could save your life to have enough food in your to shiver through the night. 

Well that’s all for now guys.  Take this knowledge that I gained in college and keep yourselves warm. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hobo Halloween Costumes

Halloween is just around the corner, so I thought it would be a good idea to share come up with some costume ideas to share with you guys.  Halloween isn't about being flashy with the most expensive costume, its a time for you to break from the norm, get quirky and have a good time.   This can be done very cheaply.  My costume this year is about as cheap as they get.  Some people may not be confident enough to wear something like this, but I will wear it proudly.

Things you need:
Long sleeve coat/shirt
Needle + Thread
Tape/staple (optional)
Empty bottles, cans, card board and newspaper

I am going to be "Recyclable" for Halloween.  So I'm going to take the needle and thread and sew the bottles and cans to my clothing along my arms and legs, and maybe a few on my torso.  Then I will crumble up newspaper and staple/tape it to myself all over the place.  On top of that, I'm going to try and make some sort of helmet/mask out of a card board box.

This is a simple, cheap costume and I think I will get quite a few kicks out of it when I go to parties this weekend.

Well that is my costume for the weekend, what is yours?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

How to make a hobo heater or portable stove

Winter is just around the corner so I think its time to show you guys how to stay warm and make some warm food. This is a cheap stove that can be used as a heater/lantern as well.

Things you will need:
Empty paint can (or similar metal metal object)
Paper/cardboard (roll of toilet paper works well)
70% isopropyl alcohol
Metal/pot ban
Ceramic tile sticks or rocks

This is a very simple design that works very, but will get very hot and last a long time. So please make sure that you are using it outside, or in a place that can withstand the heat of the can.

Hobo Heater:
The first thing you need to do is pack your tin can full of toilet paper. This make take a whole roll or two depending on the can, and its okay to use really cheap TP. Next you need to add in the isopropyl. You want the toilet paper to be fairly damp. I suggest 4-5 ounces per roll that you stuffed in the paint cant. Simply pour it over the TP that is in the can. If you are using this as a heater the final step is to just light that bitch up. It will burn slow, but hot for around 3 hours.

Hobo Stove:
Do everything said above before starting here. All you really need to do now, is use ceramic pieces or rocks to hold a cooking pot/pan on top of the heater. You can't put the pot directly on the heater, or use a solid flat piece of tile because air needs to get into the top of the paint can. So tale 2-3 stick like pieces of rock/tile and place them on top of the paint can so there is a vent. Then you can put the pot/pan on top of the tile.

Here is a quick diagram of what it should look like when you cook three cheeseburgers for you and your poor college friends.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How to make a hobo water filter

I shouldn't need to express the importance of drinking water, so lets get right to the chase here. Water has gotten expensive lately, and can cost over a dollar a bottle in stores, which is ridiculous. While in college I learned a decent amount about water chemistry, so I'm going to show you how to purify your water without needing to boil it. This is a multi-layered biological, mechanical and chemical filter.

Items you need:
-Plastic gallon or 2-liter bottle. Old milk jug will work great.
-Spare cloth or coffee filter
-Charcoal/Activated Carbon
-Access to the ground (you should all have this)

The first thing you need to do is cut the bottom out of your bottle. I don't have a camera on me so I can't show you mine, but it should look like this(minus the ball):

Now what you want to do is get a handful or two of gravel or small rocks. This size you want them about the diameter of a quarter, big enough so that they wont fall through the hole of the jug. Invert the jug like in the picture, and put the rocks in. Now get a smaller particle rock and layer them on top of the gravel size. The second layer should be about pebble size. The third layer should be a fine grain sand. The fourth layer, if you can get any, should be small pieces of charcoal or activated carbon. On top of that put a layer of sand, pebbles and gravel. So your jug should have a sandwich like this:

Fine Sand
Fine Sand

Once you have that, rubber band a coffee filter over the bottom of spout of the bottle. If you have a spare cloth, throw it over the top layer of gravel.

When this is all set up, you can pour rain/river/lake water or whatever water you want through the top of the jug (remember that the top is now the cut out bottom). As the water goes though the filter, the naturally bacteria on the ground matter will use the nutrients in the water for their own benefit and help clean it. The Charcoal will pull out all the chemicals from the water. The Coffee filter is a 1 micron mesh. That means it will catch small bugs and parasites that may be in the water.

Clean drinking water will come out of the other end, no boiling required. Be generous with the carbon if the water you use appears really dirty. A good sign of really dirty water is a foul smell or discoloration. You should be able to see the water clear up as it goes through the filter. This is probably the only thing that I learned in college that I actually put to good use so far.

That's all for now. If you have any more questions about how this works, feel free to ask.

Stay hydrated hobo's!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Getting a balanced diet - Cheap.

This is very difficult to do. Healthy food is expensive, so It can be hard for a hobo to have a balanced diet. My diet consists mainly of pasta and other cheap carbohydrate based food, which is bad. I am at an all time low for cash right now, so I am stuck eating crap. But for those of you with maybe a few more dollars to spare, these tips will help you out.

First off, the food pyramid has changed this past year. Now they use a pie chart type diagram.

As you can see, your diet should consist mainly of fruits, veggies, and grains.

To get a balanced diet you need to incorporate all of the food groups into your daily diet. The best way to do this is to plan your meals out ahead of time.

Grains are the easiest thing to get a hold of. They are very cheap and come in many forms. I have gotten used to ramen noodles lately. Be careful though, some of the cheaper pastas and breads might as well be in the cookies/sweets category.

Fruits n Veggies. These can be very expensive, or cheap depending on where you live. I try to visit a pay by the pound salad bar once or twice week to get my essential vitamins in. If you can avoid the dense toppings like beans and cottage cheese, a pay by the pound salad bar can be a more efficient buy than getting the ingredients separately. Look around the store and compare prices. Where I am, fresh spinach costs around $15 a pound, but the salad bar is only $5 a pound. If you can make a salad out of ingredients that cost less at the salad bar than sold separately, than you are beating the system while nourishing yourself. Another cheap alternative is buying store brand canned veggies. I buy cans of beans for like $0.40.

Protein. Meat is expensive and you really need to cook it. If you can find a way to cook them, I suggest getting your protein from eggs. The yolk is pure;y nutrients, and has enough to jumpstart the life of a chicken in each egg. Other alternatives to getting protein include Deli meat (must be refrigerated) and nut based products. Peanut butter is always a huge hit.

Dairy. Dairy is the hardest to get because it is so hard to keep because it spoils. I have a dairy poor diet right now. Pretty much the only dairy I get is from a little cottage cheese in my salads. You need to get dairy in your diet though. If you have a calcium deficient diet, your body will take it from your bones. This can lead to them becoming brittle and breaking easy, or worse and more complicated health issues. If you can't get your dairy, take a calcium supplement.

Meal of the pros: Peanut butter and banana sandwich with a side of milk. Its very cheap and packed with nutrients. Also, its fucking delicious.

Loser meals: Fast food. In general, it is all crap and unhealthy. You may be attracted to the dollar menu for the cheap tasty calories, but they are empty calories and don't help you at all. Eating shitty food makes you feel like shit. The only fast food that I buy is the occasional sub at Subway, because with the right vegetables it actually has the potential to be healthy. Go get yourself a $5 footlong, or stay away from fast food.

That's all for now. I will likely talk about food and how to obtain it under a strict budget, in a later post when I have more time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Getting internet

Let me start off by saying that I recognize the irony in this post. You are all obviously on the internet already, and getting online should be a priority of someone who is homeless. In my situation it is though. I am constantly apply for jobs and communicating with potential employers via email, so I really need daily access. So really all this post is going to be about are the various ways to connect and where to find internet.

If you don't have a computer, then your probably rely on public libraries. There is no shame in that, I have spent plenty of time in libraries to use the computers. Another place you should consider are malls or shopping outlets. I know they aren't meant for suing the internet, but no one has ever stopped me. I have gone into Best Buys and Apple stores, solely to use their sample computers to get online. Generally there are is high traffic in malls and sales people will try to assist you constantly, so you won't have much time with this option. If you need to check you email or send one real quick though, this is a great option.

If you do have a laptop, tablet, or smart phone, you have way more options. There are some good places with free wifi, mainly fast food joints like starbucks or mcdonalds, but there are tons of places with unprotected wifi. I tend to target places that have multiple people requiring internet, because those are the most difficult to protect. Hotels and college campuses are great places to try. Lately though, I've been using apartment complexes. I realized that apartment complexes are densely populated and each apartment normally needs their own router. This means there is a high chance that there is one that is unprotected. As I am writing this blog, I am outside a complex that has 11 available connections, and 3 of them are unprotected. I come here all the time because they have fast internet that doesn't require a password, and I don't need to sit in public and drink expensive coffee. There are tons of places you can get free wifi, so look around. It was recently brought to my attention on a forum that Home Depot is a great places to park your car and get online.

There is another option for those of you with a laptop and smart phones. It's rarely advertised because it saves you a ton of money, but you can actually tether your phone to your computer. What this means is that your computer can use your phones 3g, 4g, or whatever network as its wifi. It is fairly simple to set up, and all you need is a cord to connect your phone to your computer with via USB. Not all plans include tethering, but if you have a phone and can afford to spend a few buck to get internet wherever you have phone service, you should consider doing this. I personally am unable to tether my phone, but I know people who have done it in the past and they love it.

So there you go. I have given you all the information you need to connect to the internet and comment on this blog post.

Monday, September 12, 2011

How to open padlocks

Okay. Let me start off by saying that I don't condone stealing, but I understand that sometimes you need to. I encourage all of you to explore other means of survival than taking from others, but don't let yourself starve to death.

I found multiple tutorials online on how to pick padlocks in the past, and have practiced enough to have it down to a science. Tools can be hard to come by as a hobo, but this tutorial will show you how to pick a padlock with nothing but a soda can. Video

I have used this technique many times before, and it works quite well. Most of the times I have done it, you only need one coke can piece.

Also, here is a tutorial on how to pick combo locks:

I would just like to add that I have never used this to steal from anyone else. I have used it a few times to break into city recycling bins and collect cans, and once to get into a place to sleep during a storm. There are plenty of ways to use this technique without it having a negative effect on other people.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Maintaining Hygiene

Hygiene is something often lost in poverty, but it is extremely important maintain. Proper hygiene will not only keep you healthy, but it will make you feel better about yourself and keep you motivated. Have you ever woke up in the morning and felt like complete sh­it? Whenever I do, I feel much better after a nice warm shower. These can be hard to come by for a hobo, but they are not impossible to get on a regular basis.

The first thing you need is a toiletries kit. You should have one of these regardless of whether or not you are going to try and shower regularly. My kit has various mini shampoos and soaps that I gathered from various hotels and friends houses over time, tooth brush and paste, and even a moisturizing lotion (not essential, but it came with some soap that I bought in bulk). I put all these items into a zip-lock freeze bag, and into a small drink cooler/lunch box. This is handy to bring where ever you want and it doesn't look suspicious. The next thing I have when I go to get a shower is a change of cloths. A shower isn't complete unless you change your cloths.

I've said it before and I'll say it over and over. I take advantage of my young appearance. I like to throw my change of cloths and lunchbox of toiletries into my backpack, and blend with student. I put on my backpack, go to a college campus and loiter outside a down until a student goes in or out of the dorm, and I slip in while the door is open. Student are told never to let anyone into a dorm, but if you appear to be a student then they really don't care. Once I get into the dorm, I just use their community shower stalls. Infinite hot water, and so many people are coming and going during the day that you should be able to blend right in without question.

I know that some of you readers are a little older, or may be uncomfortable trying this. If that is the case, then you should invest in a cheap membership to a 24 hour gym. I have been considering this for awhile, and I will probably do it soon. Even if you really don't feel like working out, a 24 gym membership will get you a shower, bathroom, clean drinking water and a place to get in from the cold or weather, anytime of the day. Planet Fitness gyms are nationwide(I think), and they always have deals that can get you a membership for as low as $10/month. $10 a month to be able to shower everyday, no matter where you want to live is an excellent deal. I see myself getting a membership to one very soon.

A third option to get clean is what I have dubbed the "Hobo Bath". I have done this a few times and it's no fun, but I am a firm believer that hygiene is extremely important. Go into any public bathroom, whether it is a single bathroom at a gas station or a stall style bathroom at a fast food joint. Take a cloth, get it wet and soapy, strip down and give yourself a dry bath with the cloth. Again, it's not fun, especially to do in front of other people, but its worth it. I have only had to do this a handful of times, but if I run out of other options, I plan to do it regularly.

The forth option to get clean is scrub down in a river/pond/ocean/etc. I personally don't like this option because the water is colder, dirty, and the soap+shampoo is bad for the environment. I supposed though that given no other choice, I would do it. I ask though that if you do choose this option, please try to find cleaners that are organic/biodegradable and won't harm the animals inhabiting the area that you bathe in.

That's all for now. Stay clean guys.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Clothes Shopping

Getting new clothes is very expensive, and often impossible to pay for without an income. If you do have a little bit of cash you can always go shop at a discount store or thrift shop. Personally I don't want to spend any money on clothes, so I found other methods of acquiring them.

The first way is less than desirable, but its free. Go to a laundromat, college laundry room, or random apartment complex laundry room. Most laundry rooms that I went to in college or in apartment complexes, have a pile of unclaimed clothes pushed away in the corner. This pile is normally compiled of pieces of clothing that stuck to the inside of the dryer when someone was doing their laundry, and they left with their other clothes without realizing it. Take them. Yes, this is stealing, but its mostly like that the owner will never miss, and they will be thrown out if left unclaimed. With this method, you also need to get over the fact that your accepting clothes from a stranger. It's pretty easy to accept, if you consider that they were just washed.

The second method is my personal favorite, because it helps others and gets me brand new clothes. Get involved with your community. Look online or in newpapers and bulletin boards for community service opportunities. More often than not, if you are volunteering at a yearly or ongoing event you will get a uniform and a free meal just for helping out. Sometimes you get stiffed, but I have volunteered and walked away with a full stomach and a hoodie after only a few hours of work. It doesn't hurt to try. If you are homeless you probably have nothing better to do anyways.

The last method sucks and I haven't done it yet. Begging. I don't ever want to have to do this, but when winter comes around I may not have a choice. Survival is the most important thing, no matter how embarrassing it may be to beg. If you aren't prepared for a snow storm, and can't get to a warm place, you will freeze to death. Most people I have talked to think that people in a city won't freeze to death, but they do. When I was in highschool, I volunteered in a homeless community outreach project(irony) in Boston. I spoke to some cops who were telling me that every winter they get calls some mornings about citizens finding dead homeless people who froze to death over night. It really put things into perspective for me. I hate the idea that people will walk by someone who is freezing to death and just do nothing, but it happens. So lose that pride and beg if you have to, or you will die.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hobo Definition

What is a hobo?  Is it bad to be a hobo?
A simple google search led me to this hobo definition:

1. a tramp; vagrant
2. a migratory worker, esp an unskilled labourer

Well, this is  poor definition of a hobo.  A hobo is someone who travels with next to nothing and survives by making use of his or her surroundings.  It has nothing to do with being unskilled or degenerate.  This hobo definition is slanderous. 

A professional hobo is simply one who excels in the hobo lifestyle.  I am not an ingrate or lazy bum.  I am simply a person who had some bad luck and is knows how to efficiently utilize the limited resources at my disposal. 

Sorry for the rant, just had to get that off my chest after reading that sketchy hobo definition.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Taking Shelter

I have been pretty lucky so far, to have only been a hobo while its warm out. Adverse weather, however, can ruin you even in the warm months. I can generally find a building to get into, or just hide out in my car, but I can't say the same for everyone. I took a walk through the woods the other day and I came across some man made shelters. They looked to be a few weeks old, but they are still standing strong. They were mad completely out of sticks and shrubs. No rope or string was used at all, which I found impressive.

They built them two different ways.

The first way, they pinned a log at an angle between two trees. They then simply piled sticks along both sides of the log, while leaving an opening on one side. It was a good one person shelter.

The second way was a tipi style shelter. A main sturdy stick was shoved into the ground, and other sticks were built up around it. This shelter was much larger and looked like it took more time. This shelter could have fit three or four people comfortably.

I took a picture of each for you guys.

This gave me the idea to invest in a large piece of tarp. The shelters look simple enough to make, but with a little tarp on top it should protect against rain fairly well.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Get your sleep

Being a hobo involves moving around a lot. It is easy to travel over 10 miles in an average day. Getting your 8-10 hours a night can be very difficult when you are homeless, but day to day life is so much easier if you aren't constantly tired. I have been going for months and I have never spent a night in an alley way like most people would assume is where homeless people sleep. Take advantage of your community.

I reside in a college area, and being a recent graduate it is easy to blend as a student. Find yourself a backpack and a book and you can hang out just about anywhere on a college campus without being bothered. Many colleges have 24 hour libraries, study rooms or lounges. These are a great place to get a good nights sleep. The college I frequent has really nice couches in some of the lounges, so I just go there in the evening and wipe out a book. As it gets late, most people leave and eventually, and since it is a quiet study area I can nod off easily. If people see you sleeping there, they assume you are just college student who fell asleep and they probably wont bother you.

Some of these study places are don't have locked doors, so you can come and go as you please. If they do have a locked door, just put on your poker face and blend as a student. If you aren't a total tool, you hang around outside and get in next time a real student opens the door. I am writing this blog right now from a study room at a local college. I will probably sleep here tonight.

I often spend weekends enjoying the night life, and then need a place to sleep during the day. To sleep in peace during the day, I always go to a beach or a park, throw on my shades and just lay down out in open so it appears that I am just tanning. There is nothing better than a nice 3 hours nap on the beach.

To further convince you of the importance of sleep, see below picture:

That's all for now. Go get some sleep, hobo's.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Greetings, Internet

I am starting this blog because I really don't have anything better to do. I finished college and received my Bachelors degree this past spring.

In this economy, my degree landed me no job offers. Within days of graduation, my lease ended and I didn't have the money for a new place.

Since then, I have been living out of my car. I have clothes, my laptop from college, fishing gear and a enough cash to buy myself ramen noodles. I have been bumming around for a little over three months now, and have gotten pretty good at being a hobo. I am not writing this blog for pity or as a cry for help. I am here to share techniques I have used to survive off of almost nothing.