Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Ultimate Prep

We in the preparedness mindset always look for that cool new thingamabob that will save us when things go bad. We carefully consider every ounce we put in our packs, scrutinize firearm choices and food calorie to weight ratios, but rarely do we research our most valued and costly item. The one item that can ruin our lives or save it. We leave it purely to chance and whimsy. Yes, I'm talking about our spouses.

You husband or wife can be your greatest asset, or your worst liability. They can literally ruin your life, take everything you've worked for and built. Why is it we don't consider this area of our lives with the same thoughtfulness we apply to other areas? Because we've been programmed with happiness, love and genteel weakness as the ultimate relationship goals.

Let's look at things from a purely clinical point of view. Let's drop the Tinder profiles and dating BS and head straight to the balance sheet. Let's treat a spouse just like any other piece of kit. What is the most important trait to consider? I'd say health. Nobody wants to purchase a knife with a bent blade or a corroded hinge. We want a new or gently used partner that will last a lifetime!

What are some other critically important traits we look for from the clinical point of view. Reliability is a big factor, as well as making sure they fit your lifestyle. You love your Glock 17, but it doesn't fit in for carry at the beach in a swimsuit. The same goes for your spouse. If they can't handle the life you have planned and don't share the goals and life you want to lead, it's not going to go smoothly. The costs for failure are too high to leave it to chance.

Once you get past Healthy, Reliable, and Fit for yous task, things begin to get muddied. Personal preference starts to play as does your personal situation. Do you plan to have kids? Consider genetic disposition for disease and mental instability before you sign on the dotted line. What about personality? Are you better suited with a submissive spouse, or a get it done double A personality? I would think that a person that values items with multiple purpose would want a more dominant person to help make things happen.

What are we missing? Oh yes, all those things that don't matter. Looks are purely useless, as well as dangerous. An attractive partner can be a liability. The more sought after they are, the larger the pool of suitors. Congeniality, while important for a life long partnership, isn't really all that important to their function. As long as they are sane and reasonable, all the rest is window dressing.

You should also consider your choice's family upbringing and religion. Those are things that can be stumbling blocks later in life when the new car smell goes away. If you're marrying into a family with a cousin Eddie that will cause you untold years of anguish, is it really worth it? Will you want a condescending mother in law instilling strife into your life? What about a person with previous children? So many questions with so few rules.

What we should really find attractive, we are taught not to. Independent and confident men are supposed to be admired, but the same traits in a woman give men pause. Career women tend to be less whimsy so they are often overlooked as boring or mundane. I find that to be a shame due to their obvious dedication and reliability. The same is true for low maintenance people. They don't wear flashy, tight clothes or spend hours on their hair, so they are overlooked in a sea of Fabios and Supermodels.

What would I consider as sure tells that the person is incompatible with a preparedness lifestyle? Cosmetic surgery, Tattoos, big debt, no long term relationships, unemployment, useless degrees, endless selfies, health issues, drug use, smoking, nervous habits, promiscuity, alcoholism, and I'm sure I'm missing a few. Some you may not think are big issues for your personal situation, but for me, this is my list.

I'm not saying that I'm perfect, and lord knows that my marriage isn't textbook perfect either, but we've made it over the hump. We've spent 18 years together, and we split up and moved away from each other when we were dating, but got back together and have been married going on 16 years. She's neither the smartest, healthiest, not prettiest woman I've dated, but she is the most reliable, confident and dependable person I've ever been with.

I've been in serious relationships with other women that didn't fit the bill. It wasn't the end of the world and it was surely fun, but many I have no intention of marrying and in some cases told them so and they stuck around. Others didn't. It's not the end of the world if you can't find "the one" for you. It's usually the ones that are looking too hard that miss or gloss over the right person for you because you are looking for the perfect person. Don't focus on the things that really don't matter.

Attraction, that age old mystic want for another person is fleeting. In a few years, it can fade and you can be left with a useless commodity that you paid the highest price for. Be sure of what you are signing up for and don't let your heart override your head.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Winter Survival Planning.

I'm an avid youtube watcher and took the time to watch one from Wranglerstar recently on a big snow storm that was rolling in. It reminded me that I hadn't done some of my winterization intervals for the year. I haven't rotated my fuel yet and my food is past due for a sorting and rotating. Some new food items are being added and some older stuff I like is getting rotated into the pantry. My son eats tuna salad like it's his job, but won't eat it when I rotate in the cheap brand of tuna that I normally buy for the larder. That is just another reminder that some things need to be accounted for on my next purchase run.

I took my nephew out camping the other day and taught him the basics of axe and knife use. Kid wore out my new tomahawk that I'm testing, so that's a positive. I also tried out my new underquilt for my hammock. Worked like a champ. Not enough to do away with the pad, but definitely increased my comfort level when using my 20 degree bag on a 30 degree night. Remember that those ratings are survival ratings, not comfort ratings. My youngest had to sleep in my hammock with me the last night due to it breaking under 30 degrees overnight and his system not holding up as well. Luckily my double nest bag fits us easily.

I was reading an article about an older man remembering his harrowing experience from his high school days. He went camping without the proper gear and didn't accept his limitations. He expected to live off the land so brought very little food. He also brought a woefully inadequate sleeping bag that was rated 20 degrees warmer than the low temp for the night, and just for good measure decided to sweat soak his clothes without enough time to dry them before bed. He climbed out of his snow cave and built a fire to survive the night with barely enough dexterity and energy to bring the fire back to life in order to save his.

Survival isn't an accident. Some times you get lucky, but much of that luck is based on your abilities and readiness level. You may be short the right equipment, but with the right know how, you can survive the night in sub zero conditions even after you've made serious mistakes. Reading books and manuals is a great start, but going out and living in those conditions is vital to making sure you have the proper level of knowledge to overcome adversity when it arrives.

Not every condition is ideal. We can get hurt and not have the ability to gather wood for a fire. That means your sleeping bag becomes your survival nest. You must have enough bag and clothes to be able to survive a frigid night during the winter. Also remember that not all gear is created equal. My Browning 20 degree bag isn't as warm as my son's Kelty 20 degree bag or a black MSS intermediate bag, even though they all have the same rating.

Other factors to remember are increased caloric intake required during cold weather, ease of dehydration, layering for warmth and ditching the cotton. Cotton is rotten pretty much any time you are in the field. Wool and synthetics hold their thermal capabilities fairly well, even when wet. Down doesn't withstand wetness, but lofts better when dry and stays warmer for less weight than synthetic fill.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Long time, no post.

Sorry about my recent absence, but life has conspired against me a bit. I upgraded my teaching status and it required all of my time and energy for quite a while. Add to that a 2 week vacation and surgery for my close family that required I stay attentive to a family member 24 hours a day for a week, and here we are.

I did, however, get a few great days of training in at the range. I work directly with a training partner these days, and we really challenge each other with a regimen that incorporates some pretty fantastic scenarios with the added benefit of rigorous PT. It's nice that my private shooting club is pretty much empty most of the day on weekdays, even during hunting season. We had the ranges to ourselves, so we were able to run all the scenarios faster than anticipated, then did some work clearing mocked up rooms and bounding in pairs. The second day was all long range shooting, 100 to 300 meters.

I was able to put some time in canning and purchasing food. I believe the prices we are paying now will be the lowest we will ever see, so no reason to hold back. The California drought has had an impact, but if it continues, more farms will shut down.

The election "illusion of choice" is in full swing, with the chupacabra v reality star battle becoming all encompassing. I'm so glad to not have cable, my only exposure is in the ads on Youtube videos. They all just suck, there are very few choices that are good for the people. It's mainly choosing the cleanest end of the turd to pick it up with. It's all the same turd, we are just fooling ourselves into participating in the Charade.

The weather is turning so hunting becomes a thing in our household. I'm hoping to do a hunting camp weekend with the boys prior to the end of the year. In the past we have done it earlier, but my son is in marching band, so all weekends are booked until November. I'm considering investing in some trapping gear due to the youth license bundle including trapping. I used to borrow some gear but my family sold off all theirs as they aged. It's a solid investment for self reliance and even urban survivalists will find easy meat with a few well placed traps. They hunt 24 hours a day for you, with a low caloric output for the trapper compared to a hunter.

The current mindset is of a wait and see if Trump makes things better instead of continued progress on your preparedness. Never stop learning is my motto, even when things are going well, you should always take some time to keep skills sharp and learn new ones or expand current skills. There's not a soul out there that cares more for your family than you do, so continue to make your survival a sure thing.

I'm seeing an alarming trend in my community as well. The local LDS church seems to be ramping up their security and having members getting armed as well as trained. My mild mannered LDS neighbor came to me looking for advice on a quality AR so I took him to the gun shop where I have full access and ran him through the ringer with options and such. I will say his choice was a great one. He chose an M&P 15T. It's a really good all around unit that doesn't break the bank. It's a hard lesson when normally mild mannered, non violent congregations are getting themselves prepared for a serious reset event.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Rather Interesting Post on Survivalblog.

 Ryan over at  has a great post on making coherent systems instead of just buying stuff all willy nilly.  Here is the first scenario, and Here he expounds on the systems and their viability. It got some action from people I think are heavily invested in the "more is best" mantra.

In the older post, he proposed a very streamlined, polished EDC and first line gear setup. It's very similar to what I run on a daily basis, and what I would choose for my defense when the progressive zombies get hungry. It's not intended and a do-all, be all kit. It's a cohesive, well used and trained with, system of tools.

I do almost all the work on my vehicles. I have a very expansive tool kit with a few spares. Sometimes you need 2 of the exact same wrenches to get a job done, but not 8. This idea carries over to almost every aspect of our lives. Find the need, fill the need. I've said it a million times!

Let's consider the kits in the scenario, John Q Survivalist.

The EDC kits are really straight forward. Same situation, and in my neck of the woods, I'd carry nearly identical items. I also have a car kit that is just to bolster my EDC for a get home situation. My EDC and car kit are fully independent of my fighting loadout. I don't carry plates in my car, it's just not my thing. I also don't carry a mag carrier or micro rig. I just don't see the advantage when I can just as easily use my pockets to dump a couple mags and and not look as alarming as a kitted commando. That might change is things start to erode, but as it is, I'm going to try to remain as low profile and innocuous as possible.

The rest of the kits are perfectly suited, in my opinion. The "Mountain Man" setup is also pretty slick for an all else fails situation. All the guns listed are hunting friendly and legal in every state. My choices would differ slightly. Remmy 870 combo, Marlin bolt action 22 rifle, Ruger GP100 pistol in 357/38. Watching Dave Cantebury's Longhunter series would give you an idea of the tools you need.

The one thing I would mention, and that takes a long time to lose, is knowledge. Remember to invest in yourself and your capabilities. The more you know, the less stuff you will need. The more situational training you have, the less likely you will be ambushed and forced to defend yourself. I can continue to expand on the theory, but you get the idea.

I'm currently preparing for a grueling 7 day course held next week. Learning never ends, it just slows down a bit. Knowledge is power, and you want to be superman!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Are You Ready For This?

Are you, at this very moment, ready to deal with the aftermath of something this catastrophic? If not, ask yourself what you can do to make it right.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Monday Morning Rambling

With the inevitable summer rush, I've been a bit remiss with my focusing skills. I've all but forgotten my carbine drills for some odd reason. My efforts with long range and pistol are still on point, but the poor carbine needs some work.

My last 2 classes have been a bust so I've kinda put it on the back burner. No reason to get all sharp unless I need to right? Wrong. I need to stay sharp all the time. It would only take me 60 rounds of drills to get the muscle memory back, but it's an issue that needs to be addressed. Losing any muscle memory from the tool box is a major loss.

It's hunting season where I live so I'm working on getting out during the week while the wifester is in the Lone Star State on business. Makes for a more easily dealt with planning stage. Work has gotten really slow the past month. I have some work scheduled but people are cancelling due to financial stability issues.

Ryan over at had a very good point that I always like to reiterate any time I see it. Plan for the most foreseeable danger, then work out from there. His entire life has been shuffled by a recent breakup and being as familiar as I am with bad breakups, I understand why he's focusing on the more important things in life until he can get his mind right. That's really important to remember as modern survivalists. There's no reason to stock 30 years of food if you're going to die of hypertension after 5 years working too hard to pay for it. It's the age old tortoise and hare story. Sustainable growth, sustainable life, and sustainable attention to detail is far more important than a flash in the pan.

Germany is telling it's citizens to stock at least 10 days worth of food in case of unrest. I believe that's a complete understatement of the severity of the issues currently facing the country. Our own is also in jeopardy with the current socio-political landscape. We are a single police action shooting away from full scale country wide riots.

Stay sharp, my friends.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Always Strive To Learn.

I'm a student of human nature. Not in the clinical sense, but of those in stressful situations. Being an instructor for several hobbies that can be life threatening, I will share with you a few observations that I've found to be very telling.

Gods walk among us. There are a few people out there that are uniquely built to handle any emotional situation without any long term or short term issues. I've seen the meekest young lady become a warrior when things go bad. You would have never guessed it, but she handled her life threatening situation like a champ. She had been cornered by three bad guys in a parking lot. She was a waitress at a local pub that is almost always busy. She keeps a small 2 inch pocket knife in her apron to open boxes of straws and napkins with. She fought off three drunk thugs with that knife and walked 200 yards to a drug store to call the police when the thugs decided they were outclassed and left. She was covered in the blood of those thugs.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Extremely Relevent Post by JWR at Survivalblog.

I don't get over to survivalblog very often anymore. They were the first to post any of my writing and for that I will forever be grateful. It kick started this blog and my writing at other avenues and some more "seditionist" pages I've penned for. I try to keep it on an even keel here, but it's a very well known fact that I believe, and have believed for the past 20+ years that Her Highness Killary is the devil incarnate. If you believe the way I do and expect to see a civil war if she becomes president, read this article in its entirety.

I have a plan. I've done the research. Many of the things on this have already been done my me, including buying prepaid phones 700+ miles from my AO with cash. Clean operations equipment, clean infomatics, clean pseudonyms with street cred are helpful.

I've been blessed to have made the acquaintance of many who have worked within the government leviathan. It's truly amazing what they will talk about when you shut up and listen. Equipment capabilities, standard procedures, contract personnel requirements, maintenance intervals, team tactics, observation capabilities and most importantly, who they look for. The above post at survivalblog will help you realize your exposure to action. Be aware and ever vigilant.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Training issues/ Student issues.

The situation within the training industry today is rather sad. I've been teaching some skill or certification from the time I was 23 years old. It was motorcycle racing and track days, then it was SCUBA diving and new electricians, now it's survival/primitive skills and firearms as well. Over this time I've had some really great students. They didn't have to be the best at what they did to be good students, they just needed to have a good outlook and the will to stick with it. Today things are changing. They want instant professional grade acumen and zero effort to boot. It's driving me absolutely batty.

Another issue is cost. They want a budget class with high end training. I really wish I could do that. Let's break it down. Rent the range at a premium training facility that will let you shoot a 3 dimensional class. 20 per student/per hour for an 8 hour class. 5 students- $800 before I even get out of my truck. Now lets get into paper targets, balloons, rope and cones, steel targets and wear and tear. Call it 300 per class for that. Now factor in my time and that of the other instructor. 16 hours classroom and range time total times 2. At twenty bucks an hour we cost 320 bucks. Range ammo we use to demonstrate skills and run through the gauntlet confidence drills is about 140 bucks per instructor so 280. Let's total that all up

800 + 300 + 320 +280 =1700

5 students =340 bucks cost.

We charge 350 for the above cost associated carbine course coming up next weekend.

Every prospective student says it's too expensive. After costs, he and I can't take the profits and buy a lunch at McDonalds. I make 3x this hourly rate at work.

Here we are, an NRA trained instructor and a 22 years Special Forces vet that worked Special Operations CIF for quite a few years, then attended the police academy upon retiring from the military at an E8. The wealth of knowledge on 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation warfare sloshing around in his head is staggering. You literally cannot buy that knowledge anywhere. You must live it. Yet we can't get 5 students who want to learn carbine use and drills for advance and break contact from a guy that's taught the special forces from more countries than he has fingers and toes. Frustrating isn't descriptive enough.

Then tonight I had a SCUBA class for the first rating, Open Water. One of the students couldn't make the first class, no big deal. He let me know and we can make up the work if he misses one. Tonight, same douche nugget forgets his books. Now let me drop the hammer on the whole deal. These people are in a hurry to get certed before they go to Florida in 2 weeks. Yep, in a hurry but don't care that they must take responsibility for getting it done. I'm so sick of it. There's no money in training, we do it out of love for the things we do. We think it's important to teach people how to properly do things. I'm teaching people with ZERO skills how to stay safe in a foreign environment that you can't breathe in. You'd think they would consider it important!

You're paying not just for training, but to learn the tips and tricks that others, including myself have spent tens of thousands of dollars to experience and test the ideas we teach. Literally decades of training and putting rounds down range, thousands of dives up to 300+ feet in underwater caves and wrecks, dragging a knee on a racetrack at triple digit speeds, and last year alone I spent 70+ nights in the field under the stars. But it's still too expensive to pay to learn what would have taken you literally years of experience to figure out on your own. Go ahead, be my guest.

The Firearms market is back in flux due to the elections and everyone is stockpiling weapons and ammo, but if they have to fight to keep them, a 10 year old with a Ruger 10/22 can swiss cheese these turd blossoms before they figure out how to charge their weapon and turn off the safety. Forget about their gun having a good repeatable zero because they can't remember their cheek weld or body position, or their optic's battery is dead. They have no damn clue. If that's you..... Get your life sorted. You owe it to your country and your family to get your stuff squared away.

That is all. Carry on.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Clothing for the Apocalypse!

I know it's silly to post sensationalism like this, but with people posting all these stupid things about pokemon and politics, I just can't help myself! Seriously though, this is an important part of your life and times.

Everyone has a favorite pair of shorts, pants, shirt, shoes and (especially important) underwear. Sometimes it's purely emotional, like that lucky pair of drawers you were wearing that time you met that double jointed Swedish stewardess! Or not. My favorites all come due to comfort and/or usefulness. It's really important to have functional clothing at your disposal when the chips are down or you have to switch gears quickly. Case in point

Thursday, July 28, 2016

New Truck Kit.

It seems that my various kits have been pillaged a time or two for replacement gear and such. When a flashlight fails or I need a hank of paracord, my truck kit takes a hit. This recently cost me a bit of trouble. I needed some paracord to tie down an unruly piece of equipment, but there was none to be had after I used it to batten down a SilNylon tarp at my last training session with students. I had to keep them and their bookwork dry in a pounding rain. My SOE belt cam in handy for the task of ensuring the equipment didn't topple out of the truck bed, but I looked funny holding up my pants the rest of the trip.

The answer, in my eyes is to have 2 kits in my truck. My regular truck kit that is used and replenished often, and a true survival kit/get home bag. Nothing too large because I always have a full kit when I drive out of the 50 mile radius of my home. That being said, I should be able to walk 50 miles in 2.5 days without any trouble, even if I stop and rest and even get some shuteye. What if I'm on the direct opposite side of the large metropolis in my area. I'm sure as heck not going to walk through hood rat central without being forced to. This could add at least 20 miles to the commute. Add in social unrest, injury or the need to skirt checkpoints and I could be out for a week.

This isn't anything new to me. I've always kept a few days worth of food in the car and truck, but never really in appropriate amounts. With the various situations I find myself in, I will sometimes need to be on site for a day or two without leaving so having a couple cans of soup or a mountain house meal is a lifesaver. I never kept a stove because I keep a propane torch in my truck at all times. That's not something I really want to carry long term though.

What I want is a full emergency kit plus a survival/Escape and Evasion style kit. Something light weight, easy to use, and farm animal simple. It must fit underneath my truck seat without being exposed to prying eyes. I'm thinking a sling bag or very small but long non tactical looking pack. There are several out there that fit the bill, but I want something inexpensive.

Contents will look something like this.

Shelter: Silnylon tarp or Bivy and a fleece liner.
Cooking kit: Hexamine tablets, MRE spoon, and an ESEE mess kit/survival tin
Navigation: Cheap compass and state map
Illumination: a couple glow sticks and a Princeton Tech headlamp with extra rechargeable batteries
Cordage: Spool of #36 tarred line, 100' paracord
Tools: Multitool, medium folding knife, Etool or prybar.
Incidentals: Gorilla tape, Shemagh, zip ties, trash can liners, bug spray, fishing line, tin foil, clothes pins, solar charger, Beofeng radio, wash cloths, antiseptic soap, water filter.
Food: Freeze dried and instant meals, gatorade powder, tea and sugar, cheapo Binoculars. Smart Water bottles for containers. I love them!

My regular emergency kit covers the medical and tactical aspect very well. It also has some redundant supplies such as water tablets and water bottles plus some snacks. Its various helpful supplies will augment this future kit.

Updates with pics to follow.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Changes in the Blogoshpere.

It seems that a few long running Blogs have completely dried up in the past year. I hate to see it happen, but some times life just gets in the way. It's not like us little guys get paid much to do this. If we advertise with google, you might get a tank of fuel every quarter, if you ride a moped.

I do miss a few of the more solid guys out there. I know we sometimes get caught up with popular guns and ammo talk and bore the heck out of you with intelligence and toilet paper posts, but it's all important to us. Like minded people should stick it out for as long as we can, and when we just can't do it anymore, bow out gracefully.

This blog isn't updated regularly due to my time constraints and outreach programs. I know that can get annoying at times when you need a good read on a late night insomnia stretch. It's just how it is for me. It's free info. If you want get some high level training, I can get you taken care of but the price is steep!

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere. If the blog suddenly stops getting updated for a couple months, I'm dead. Probably by my wife for buying another gun. So worth it.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Emotional and Psychological Issues Under Pressure

Spent 6 days at camp with the scouts. It was enjoyable, as always. My biggest issue was the fact that 2 of the boys in the troop have some serious emotional issues and required a great deal of assistance to keep them stable. One is a textbook case of manic depressive with zero short term memory due to heavy drug use of his mother during pregnancy. The kid is pure gold when he's comfortable, but when things don't go his way, or he's hungry/sleepy/tired or sick... Godzilla time. The other is an autistic boy that recently move to our troop. He needs constant attention and reinforcement. It's an exhausting mix. The good thing is that the boys are learning their limitations and beginning to understand why they react differently that the other kids.

What I learned was that in a dire situation, I cannot count on them to do anything but exacerbate the issue. Medications won't be enough to keep them in check if their world falls apart on them. Even mild dehydration can cause significant emotional swings in those hampered by emotional difficulties. In an emergency, your children can become a large hindrance to your plans unless you have made some allowance for their emotional needs prior to the event.

If your family member has serious emotional damage, or requires heavy medication to remain compliant, you might be in real trouble as the meds wear off. Planning for this eventuality is almost impossible. There are no good options when it happens.

One of the things that most people don't know is that most successful people have a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental impairment. Sometimes genius has it's torments, and sometimes OCD is the price of organizational perfection in a company.

The other side of this coin is those boys that were sharpened by conflict and testing. Many of the troop were tested by the Firecrafter program. This program is 100% volunteer and lies outside the regular scheduled classes. The boys can choose to start the program during a week long camp if they want to attain one of the three ranks. The first rank is pretty simple and is more of an orientation and molding campaign for 11-12 year olds. The next is more difficult and required the demonstration of fire building skills and the ability to learn productive woodcrafting skills, as well as volunteering for service work around camp. The final tier requires the candidate to make a fire with a fire by friction set they made at camp, and to display their leadership skills by running a campfire program. 

Those boys that completed ranks were very proud and by the end of camp, far more self assured than prior to camp. Those that failed understood that personal responsibility is their doing, and that they were responsible to themselves for the failure to complete the skills. Yes, the ones that didn't pass were upset, by they accepted it and vowed to do better next time.

Another section of the troop had high hopes prior to camp, but once they arrived were more than happy to not attain a single Firecrafter rank, didn't complete their prerequisites, didn't complete a single merit badge and didn't help the troop run smoothly in a single manner.

It's like a cross section of society. I spent 90% of my time with 10% of the troop and the cream always rises. Those boys that are coddled and still tied up to momma's apron strings aren't faring well and will continue to lag behind those that were raised in a more traditional family setting with responsibilities of their own.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Late Night Rambling. Clinton/Dallas shootings

I see that we are now in open warfare with the authorities in some places. It's a shame, really. A divided public is far easier to subvert than a united citizenry. The Clinton Email charade and ensuing circus is just another dog and pony show that will not amount to much.

I will say that Matt Bracken's recent (July 6th, 2016) post about sniper team ambush tactics was prescient, like much of his work has been over the years. It seems that logic and sound research leads to an efficient forecast of future events. More likely he's just more attuned to historical observations and social reaction extrapolation than most. One of his best works, and a great study guide for the future lawlessness is this rather long piece on Civil War 2 {posted September 2012} and the indicators leading to it's eventual kick off. Dallas could be a False Flag op, but I doubt it. Both sides were shot up, like you would be trying to get both sides fighting each other, but who really knows at this point?

When the Music Stops

I highly doubt that it will be peace one day and a shooting war the next. More likely would be a slow, simmering guerilla war until enough order takers are killed that the other order takers quit taking orders, then the kickoff gets heated.

Some day we will look back at these times and wonder why we didn't do something to end evil, instead of choosing Evil A & B for almost a century. I just want this whole thing over with before my oldest son is of fighting age. He's a smart kid and he's got heart, so I know he will want to fight. He's a millennial kid so he's still awfully soft to be thrown into the fray. Kid 2? He'll be leading a squad of inglorious bastards into the fray without a second thought- At 12 years old.

I'm just a little bummed out over what's happening these days. Wake me up when it's time to do something. Till then I'm going to sharpen my blade and do recon. I have an active shooter class to plan for.

I Miss America

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Long Week Training Future 2A Leaders.

I spent the week training about 200 new shooters in basic marksmanship and fundamental rifleman skills. It was a very nerve racking environment, but the benefits are amazing for the future of 2nd Amendment causes. I'm given a very narrow set of rules to follow, but we do what we can with what we have.

All week was also spent in my hammock in the woods. It was absurdly hot even during the night. At one point, I could feel the sweat dripping off the bottom of the hammock. Insane conditions to try to sleep in, but worth the effort. I tried to stay busy until 11pm when the cool started to seep in from the woods, but even that was of little use with temps at 80 degrees and the humidity hovering near triple digits. A couple nights storms rolled in and it was a nice change to have wind to cool off the hammock bottom.

Many parents were more than amazed at the things that were taught in my time with their children that they didn't know themselves. Eye dominance was a huge skill set that most common shooters know little about prior to getting frustrated. Bone to bone over muscle holds, trigger squeeze orientation, directional bias, target fixation, etc. It was amazing to watch how limber young minds can be.

There were a few combat vets there with their kids and one day we had a rain out and all packed into a pavilion. A few of them were suffering with the noise and activity so I took them aside and for a cool drink and a chat. It takes a lot of situational awareness training to spot them all, but with a little practice, it's pretty easy to spot people that are teetering on the edge. I just wish the rest of society would put the phones away and take a chance at meeting the people around them instead of the screen full of people they barely know. A little small talk and social etiquette goes a long way.

Some of the best training I was given for spotting distress was presented to me in a Divemaster class years ago. Once you start keying on the little things, the small cues become more obvious to you. As in most instances, the hand tell the tale, along with body position and direction. 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Availability of Weapons In The US Saving Lives?

I've been thinking about this for a while now and have finally come to a consensus on my feelings and the facts. The US gun culture is creating a climate that makes it easier to purchase civilian weapons than it is for terrorists to import true weapons of war like were used in Paris, France. It's nearly impossible to buy a gun in France, so the terrorists purchased and smuggled in full auto AK47's. If you're already smuggling weapons, you might as well include some mines, grenades and incendiary devices, right?

Let's face it, a Glock is far less dangerous than an RPG or many other weapons out there. If they are going to have to import their weapons, I'm sure those will be far more potent than what is currently available to radicalized US citizens.

The gun culture of the US continues to save lives, even without arming the good guys. With that being said, carry your darn gun! All the time, and be ready to use it when you must. Where I live those pesky No Guns signs carry no legal weight, so I ignore them, just like the criminals do.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Critical Thinking in Practice, Not Predisposition.

Every once in a while I'll have a rough time overcoming preconceived notions and generally accepted knowledge used as fact. Take for instance my day's endeavor. I've been working on load development for a very odd rifle. Proof research barreled Remmy long action in 300 Win Mag. I've been told be several people that those barrels like heavy bullets, and I favored the heavy bullets, loading a full set of them for my daily grind at the range. I did this in deference to the findings of my last outing with the same rifle where I used 168 grain Sierra Match Kings to break in the barrel and do the zero work while breaking it in. As soon as I felt the barrel was ready to start grouping, I switched to 190 SMK's and the groups opened up a bit. I did find a narrow node where it would shoot 1/2" groups with 190's, but for the most part, the 168's shot better.

Given my predisposition, I loaded a bunch of 208 Amax's for the outing, in total opposition to the findings of my first trip. The results were less than stellar. 1.25" groups all day. I jut happened to also take another 300 win mag I built years ago for F class competition. The ammo it uses is a 175g zooming at 3185 FPS. I decided to swap ammo and shoot the faster 175's. They are 60-70 FPS faster than the 168's I used to break it in. Guess what- 3/8" 5 shot groups.

We often times take the intelligence out of the equation and interject our own untested facts into our decisions when we have solid, verifiable evidence that they are false. Allowing your feelings to get in the way of sound decision making can be a catastrophic tragedy. Luckily today it only cost me about 60 bucks in fuel, ammo and some shoulder abuse. Making a decision without any solid evidence to support it is also a fool's chore. It's like picking a wife or husband based on what their favorite color is. Start studying your choices, be critical of your past choices. "Because that's the way we've always done it" isn't an acceptable reason to continue that behavior. Critical thinkers not only solve issues, they also find inefficiencies and assist in process streamlining.

Questioning your choices can be a humbling experience, but also enlightening. Having a peer or family member review your logic can also help establish a baseline for you to follow when questioning your decisions. For instance, if you tend to over spend on amazon while sipping on a frosty beverage, start limiting your exposure to either the brew or the shopping website and see what the outcome is. Ask yourself why you made the choice you did and learn from it's success or failure.  It's tough adulting some times, so don't take criticism personal. Learn from it, embrace your shortcomings for the lessons they teach you. Take command of the decision making process and become wise from your mistakes as much as you do from your successes.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Gear Review: Cold Steel Spartan Folding Knife. UPDATE 5/28/16

There comes a time in every man's life when he must retire a knife. It's like losing an old friend that's been around forever. Earlier this year my Beretta AirLight Tanto gave up the ghost and lost the screws for the pocket clip. I've had this knife for 10+ years and loved everything about it. It's lightweight, ultra thin and holds a nice edge. The screws are the weak point. The ones that hold the clip in place stripped out from the frame. So, that brings me to my next adventure. Finding the right knife for me.

I'd been trolling several web sights looking for something similar to the Beretta but never really found the right one. I finally just gave up and decided to get something different in the less than $100 market. The choices were endless. While looking at many blades, I noticed that the Tanto style I was used to wasn't going to be good for skinning or hunting use. My next blade should be useable for such since my boys are getting to the age where I will be taking them in the field soon enough. A nice curved folder would suit me just fine. What size should I get? Well, bigger is better, right?

Sales video from the Cold Steel website.

Cold Steel Spartan Folder. Glock 17 and mags for size reference and cool factor.

My first impression is that this thing is HUGE. The blade itself is is 4.5 inches long with a total length of 10.5 inches. The weight is 9.2 ounces so it's a hefty knife. Definitely one you will be hard pressed to forget it's in your pocket. The grip has a good texture with internal steel liners and a positive locking mechanism that is about as robust as they come. There are videos on the web site showing the locking mechanism holding a 300 pound load. A very well built knife for the price!

I started carrying the knife around six months ago and noticed it's bulk right away. The length is so long that it tends to rub the keys at the bottom of my pocket. This gets annoying at times when seated for long periods. The blade itself came very sharp and held it's edge well for quite a while. The locking mechanism needs to be operated a few times and lubricated a little before it's perfect. The clip is very sturdy as well but it's losing it's black coating on the leading edges. The finish on the knife is a bead blasted stainless look with the lettering near the handle. The Aus 8 steel isn't a very robust stainless. Mine is getting bits of rust or corrosion on it in several places.  It seems to be only on the side that rests against my leg so it must be a moisture/salt issue. Makes me wonder how well it will stand up to opening bags of ice melt this winter.

Corrosion on the blade. The lines are from sharpening a pencil Friday afternoon.

Overall, it's a very nice knife. The blade itself is easily sharpened and fairly tough, but not nearly as hard or resilient as many others I've had. I nicked the blade when I was cutting zip ties off a fence. I was disheartened when it happened but I wasn't being very careful. The blade was easy enough to bring back into shape that it wasn't a big loss. My only other annoyance is the fact that you really need to put your fingers inside the hilt where the blade goes to operate the safety lock. I cut myself once trying to snap it closed due to the design. I'm not a fan of leaking, so that one was pretty big.

I like the knife for what it is and it's really nice to take bushwhacking because it doubles as a machete in the dense brush. A swift whack with the blade is all it takes to cut back brambles and vines. The handle is shaped to hold your hand in place and not lose the knife or allow the edges of your fingers to be exposed while chopping. Great feature for a knife of this heft and type. Another great feature is the pocket grabbing plate at the top of the blade. It catches the edge of your pants pocket and opens the blade for you if you draw it properly. My only issue with that feature is that the thumb piece seems to be a little loose fitting. You can move it slightly but the screw seems to be tight.

My thoughts are that I'm going to keep the knife and use it for weekends in the woods or certain special times when a small machete is needed. I'm going to continue my search for another knife of the size and caliber of the Beretta I previously owned. 

Update: This winter I broke the flat tang that is used as a pocket catch for fast opening the knife. I was batoning wood during a camping trip and noticed it was missing after I finished. It had been loose for a bit. I kept meaning to return it for repair, but life gets in the way. Fast forward to last week and I brought it with me to the NRA convention to check with the Cold Steel reps there. I asked if they had a good warranty and told them of the issue. He grabbed it from me and took it in back, then handed me a box. He also informed me that the new updated model is a better steel. So far that seems to be the case. I'll let you know how it holds up. AWESOME WARRANTY! 

Normalcy Bias & Distractions, General Rambling

I'm as guilty as you are of allowing distractions to steer my goals and to delay my investments. The current weather and summer planning has pretty much dominated my existence for several weeks. The times it's rained we spent working on the house and the times when the weather was good was spent cleaning up outside the house. I know these are important things when you consider organizational strategy and remaining as grey as possible in your neighborhood.

One thing that was very surprising was that several of my neighbors have come to me asking for gun advice. I've done some repairs on their guns in the past, and have helped them with decisions on new purchases. Not very grey of me. I guess it's more important to me to have those people be prepared than it is to keep them in the dark. Then, just a few weeks ago, a news truck pulls in my driveway. A local reporter was given my name as the neighborhood watch captain. I'm not, but even people that don't even know my name, and live a block away know of me. They gave the gal a description of my truck and where I live to locate me. I ended up doing an interview and inviting her to a training class.

I've evidently been very remiss in my dealings with neighbors. I've allowed them a glimpse into my security abilities, and I've trained a few of them through the security consulting company I work for part time. I'm now seen as a leader (target) for armed incursions should there be any in a WROL situation; This was not my intention.

It's normal to want to keep your neighbors safe. It's in your best interest. They have no idea of my food stores or plans, but they do know I have the ability to defend myself. If that a good or bad thing is a 50/50 split. Good as a deterrent, bad because it makes me a target for thieves. We've had a recent dirtbag influx when a couple of the elderly people in my neighborhood passed away and the family took over the property. 4am fireworks, trash blowing around, their guests tossing food wrappers and drinks out of their cars, code violations, poor lawncare, etc. Nothing serious, yet, but still annoying. The new occupants have been hauled off to jail a couple times for minor court violations, but not for felonies. I've contacted my people on the local PD to have them investigate them, but I haven't taken a stand, yet.

This brings me to the point. I'm guilty of letting myself be lulled into normalcy bias by my domesticated home life and my comfy surroundings. My wife travels a bunch for work so I'm always dealing with my boys and keeping things together on the home front. It's a necessary distraction from the big picture and it's eating my days away.

I've upped my physical training regimen and got back into shooting more than just the carbine and glock, but the long range guns do eat up the pocketbook pretty fast when you consider you're buying 200+ grain bullets and using 4x the powder charge of a 223 round. Adds up quickly.

I do get to practice my fieldcraft quite a bit more with the shopping trips and errands I must run. That's the up side. My 14yo son is also starting to get some of the training I've wanted him to get involved in. He's grown 6 inches this year and is now taller than me, so it's time for him to get involved in his own self defense. He seems to be catching on. I rarely see him holding his phone while walking or in a public area.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

2016 Nominations and The Political Landscape.

I've been inundated with calls and messages about my thoughts on the current political landscape. It's difficult to fully explain the deceit and moral deficiency within our hallowed halls of leadership, but to quantify government in it's simplest term, it's a Dumpster Fire. The only thing worse than smelling a dumpster is to set in on fire and turn the putrid refuse into smoke.

Our government is a morally bankrupt institution of greed and moral decay that is based on graft and theft. Even if the best among us were to be put in charge of enforcing the laws and treaties of the US, it would still be a smoldering dumpster fire. It's just too far gone.

Choosing which leader rolls the dumpster over the cliff is just a question of how fast it will get to the edge, not if it will go over the edge. That's already been determined, there is zero chance that our country will survive as the debt overcomes our means to pay it.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Gear Review: Bob Dustrude Quick Buck Saw

Due to my affinity for a nice fire and the ability to build some simple camp furniture, I had been looking for a lightweight camp saw that folds down or disassembles into a small package for backpacking and woodcraft. A saw is far more practical for processing smaller firewood and back cutting a tree when felling.

I found that the market was pretty small for such items. Many are of poor quality or too heavy for practical use. After quite a bit of youtube watching and some blade research, I found that the Bob Dustrude Quick Buck Saw carried at Duluth Pack ( seemed to be the best bet for my purposes. It's not cheap, but it's compact and well reviewed. It's only drawback that was apparent was the fact that it required some serious tools to repair if damaged.

I have used the saw many times now and its construction is very simple. 3 Channels of aluminum bracing are cut with the 2 outside "legs" being slightly larger channel to allow them to slide over the top of the center channel. 4 Zinc rivets are used to connect the 3 pieces together and allow them to fold. Each leg has a 1" slit cut in it to hold the blade. The blade is installed by sliding the blade into the channel slit and seating the installed stopper bolt inside the channel while camming the waxed wooden handle into place, tensioning the blade. It's pretty easy to figure out, and the directions are written on the wooden handle. It's also bi-directional so it's impossible to install it backwards. The handle can be installed on either side.

It's pretty easy to use for wood processing and such, but it's a but difficult to make precision cuts. For some reason it likes to drift, no matter who is using it or the grip they use. I believe this has to do with the channel slit not being perfectly tight and causing the blade to twist slightly.

The other drawback is that it's rather loud for a buck saw. Not painfully so, but much louder than any pruning saw or buck saw I've used. These are both minor concerns when you consider it's intended use, but for some, it's a deal breaker. The only other issue I have is the fact that it doesn't have a sheath for it. They are available, but not in any way can you consider them cheap.

The positives far outweigh the issues in this case. This 24" saw weighs 15.9 ounces, which is paltry compared to it's usefulness. It's cutting ability is very good with some practice. The lighter weight takes some getting used to, but with a few minutes of cutting, you forget about it. It uses a standard Bahco blade for wet wood, which is a pruning blade with cutters and rakers. You can buy standard 24" blades from various manufacturers and only need a screwdriver and pair of pliers to change the blade.

The good: Light weight, durable, easy to use.
The bad: loud, cuts drift, no sheath, cannot be fixed in the field
The ugly: none

Overall, this has been a decent purchase for the 70 dollar entry fee. It's perfect for use on extended campouts and for rough cutting when out in the woods. It's not meant for use in heavy or commercial style cutting. It's meant to be used as a backpacking saw for serious adventurers. With it, you can cut down trees with a 15" width without an issue. They also come in a 30" model, but it won't fit on my pack properly. In conjunction with a proper camp axe, you can pretty much build a log cabin or serious shelter without an issue.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gear Review: Husqvarna General Purpose Axe

I've been using an old family axes for years now. They are all well worn and pretty beat up due to the use of 3 generations of users. I can remember chopping up kindling as a kid with my Grandfather's roofing hatchet. He was a thrifty man, so when it broke he paid a neighbor to weld it back up for a 6 pack of beer. Cheap beer.

The axes were all in pretty poor shape, and the smaller Shapleigh axe was tucked in my dad's tool box when I inherited it. I cracked the larger axe handle years ago and just taped it up years ago as well. With my new skills research, I've learned how to re-haft or re-handle an axe of any type, including mauls. These are a few axes from the scout troop I volunteer with. I bought quality handles and spent several hours per unit learning how to do it right. Cleaning them up takes time as well.

 These are 2 high quality, low cost scout axes that have been in use by the scouts for a few decades. You can see the years of abuse they endured. It took a lot of work to get them back in shape.
After installing new Seymour Hickory handles. The top Axe is my turn of the century Shapleigh axe. It's in great shape now. It's a good size for smaller tasks and light chopping, but too heavy to strap to your backpack and slog to the field. Thus begins my quest to acquire a more suitable axe for backpacking and bushcraft. After much research and some budget constraints, I knew I wanted a Swedish steel axe similar to a small forest axe. Many European military units use similar axes so I knew they are very reliable. It had to have a Hickory handle as well.

There were many contenders out there but the best value seemed to the the Husqvarna. You needed to do a little rework to the edge, and the cover isn't the best, but it's made by one of the oldest axe makers in Sweden, Hults Bruks.

Upon arrival, I spent some time putting a shaving sharp edge on the axe. I re linseed oiled it up a few times and set it aside for an upcoming scout camp out. I was able to use it to split some smaller logs and make some feather sticks for practice. It was just what I wanted. Lightweight, perfect length for my arms and well built.

Fast forward a month and my son and I are in the woods during the winter and we are relying on our kit to keep us warm and fed. I'm really glad I had the right tools to split the gnarly muscle wood and cedar for the cold, rainy weather. You do have to be careful though, the small head allows the wood to split unevenly and you can hang the handle in the split regularly. It's caused some damage on my handle. Not enough to worry about, but enough that it's showing some splinters at the neck.

The profile is very sharp, which keeps the weight down, but makes the head stick pretty often in stringy or soft wood. It's aces at splitting dry hard woods.

Pictured after felling and splitting a couple dead white pine trees.

It's now my favorite axe. I use it on every non scouting camp out and for clearing brush or working wood when I need to take off more than a knife will allow. It keeps a shaving sharp edge onger than my knife does. Even after chopping down 2 15" x 40' white pines and limbing them. All it required for bringing the edge back to shaving was 10-15 strokes on the leather strop with yellow compound. 

With 6 months of good use behind me, I can say that this has been one of my better investments. The head is still 100% solid on the haft, the edge is still perfect, and the finish is still rough. Can't ask for anything more in a medium cost backpacking/general purpose axe.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Do It Yourself Cooking Grate

I've watched a few Youtube videos by Alfie Aesthetics and found his ingenious use of a fire grate to cook on. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that the grate wasn't attached to the legs, allowing it to fall over and spill your food into the fire. I also usually have company with me, so I need a larger grate. I chose this on due to it's four raised attachment points and large surface area.

I bought some cheapo pot metal tent stakes and bent them permanently into circles inside the 4 loops for lifting the cooling rack off a surface. The thing works flawlessly. You can adjust the temperature by how high over the coals your rack is. I generally use it for putting my tea near the fire and heating up water for cleaning up. If I need to boil or cook something, it goes in the hanging pot. It works great as a warming tray as well.

The grate I purchased was chrome plated to keep it from oxidizing or tainting food, so you can cook yourself a hank of deer steak or a nice thick fillet of game fish directly on the grate. To store it, I just apply a rubber band around the grate with the legs folded up and wrap a plastic bag around the outside of the grate and shove in in the outside pocket of my pack. With a little work, it can be used on a tripod or dakota fire hole fairly easily.

The only drawback is that it's all steel. It's a little heavier than I would have liked. I wanted to get an aluminum grate and pegs, but it was rather hard to find. Ti would have been choice if funds weren't an issue, but that's an entirely different matter.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Back From The Back Country.

The boys and myself went for a very difficult hike this week. The elevation changes were brutal, some requiring you to scramble up hill sides too steep to skirt or walk a diagonal approach. I didn't get too many pictures of the hard areas, I was too busy sucking wind and keeping 50# of gear from making me fall over. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous without the leaves obscuring the view.

 My 78 pound 11yo son packed 38 lbs of gear 4.12 miles with 1400f of elevation changes both up and down the same 836 to 433 feet above sea level. The 14yo is in track for distance running, he flat trounced the youngest and I with his 43 pound back.

 Once we made it to the camp site, we sat back and relaxed prior to setting up camp. There was a beach not too far away, but the easy access to boaters had it trashed beyond belief.

There was debris, beer bottles, a broken tent, cooler styrofoam, dirty diapers, etc. there for the enjoyment of all. I was pretty upset at how people treat public lands. If I had my way, the perpetrators would be on a chain gang cleaning up the entire park for a month.

We set up a nice little camp a hundred yards away from the beach and had a nice rocke overhang to fish off. We made a log seat and the youngest decided to not bring a tent and instead make a super shelter of his own design.

We decided to end the trip 12 hours early due to a large storm moving in and high winds that were deconstructing the shelter. We no more made it to the access road than the heavens unleashed a torrent of heavy rain and endless lightning and thunder. The trip back to the truck was arduous to say the least. The near vertical climb in some places at the beginning of the hike really takes it out of you. The topographical map looks solid red with contour lines in some places we traveled.

I did catch a nice little flathead catfish the first night, but the water was way up and muddy from the spring rains, so I expected very little luck catching fish. The boys didn't even get a bite.

A new skill I tried out was the long fire to keep the youngest son's shelter warm. 

A traditional long fire is built a little differently, but due to the fact that I had 3 different types of wood, I could choose how the fire burnt by using different wood to speed or slow the burn. I'd stagger hard wood, then white pine for fast heat, then a wet beech to slow it again. My first time was a success. I got up at 1:30am and 4:30am to add wood and keep him warm, but that was just my light sleeping getting the better of me. The carp jumping and geese fighting in the night kept me awake most of the night. I had to sneak in a noon siesta to stay viable while the boys processed firewood and completed their assigned duties.

Another great trip in the books, and I plan to get those reviews done this time. One is long over due and I put it up immediately this morning. I'm going to let this one auto post in a few days and work on some more reviews.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Gear Review: MSR Flex Skillet

For a while now I've looked for a decent skillet for fishing and camping trips that would be light enough for extended camping and backpacking trips. It needed to be robust, lightweight and non stick. That pretty much removed any stainless or cast iron cook wear. I already have some MSR items that work well, so I decided to try the Flex Skillet. At 7oz and $30, it wasn't a large investment in weight or cost. I bought it last summer and have been bringing it with me on the many trips I've taken.

In the real world, it has worked flawlessly as a serving dish, frying pan, stove base, warming dish, water pot and sauce pan. I've cooked more than 50 different items in it from Bacon to mashed potatoes. I've fried fish, squirrel, eggs, venison and pork chops in it. Most of this cooking was over an open flame, which requires careful vigilance when your supplies are finite in the field. The aluminum pan disperses hot spots faster than a steel pan could, so it's easy to pull it off the flame and not burn your dish.

This last trip we took saw a lot of cooking with this pan. We pan fried some Asian noodles, fried bacon twice, fixed pancakes, eggs, made taco meat and made chicken and noodles in it. All of this was done over the coals of an open fire without any signs of wear or abuse.

So far, the skillet had held up famously. When it first arrived, I was dubious of the plastic pieces on the handle as well as the attachment system. I've burnt this thing to a crisp and blackened the areas that the plastic resides without any deformity or loosening of those plastic bits. Must be some type of Teflon or space age polymer to take that kind of heat without showing signs of melting. The non stick coating is wearing thin at the top edge where it rest in my pack, and except for a few nicks it's 100% there inside the pan cooking surface.

The handle is a polymer so it doesn't get too hot unless you leave the handle in the fire. I've lost all the hair on my hand and never felt the handle was too hot to touch. The removable handle fits inside the 9 inch skillet with ease. It's made of polymer and aluminum with a detachment slide to allow it to fold or be removed. A 9 inch skillet is perfectly sized for the needs of a backpacker. It won't serve more than a few people, but it will be easily packed and cleaned, the two things a backpacker like myself looks for.

Over all, it's been a great investment. I don't have a single complaint due to knowing that a lightweight pan wouldn't heat as evenly as a thick pan. You improvise and control the heat with the fire lay instead. Even pancakes turned out flawless on an open fire.

The good: Light weight, Moderately priced, non stick, removable handle, polymer handle stays cool, anodized outer coating.
The bad: Still a thin gauge Aluminum sheet, gets hot spots.
The ugly: I didn't buy this years ago.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Find the need, Fill the need!

So many people get caught up in the zombie apocalypse that they miss the entirety of the point of a reliable get home bag or even an effective first aid kit. As you sit there reading this post, consider what you would need if there was an explosion from a natural gas leak in a nearby house. The authorities are evacuating all nearby houses and they have an aid/shelter station set up at a nearby school. The roads are blocked with debris, the area is cordoned off by federal authorities and you are being forced from your home for your own protection until it can be inspected for structural defects.

This exact thing happened a few miles from my house. Many members of my church family lived in the neighborhood and the last family is just finishing having their house rebuilt after the incident. Richmond_Hill_explosion

Find the need.

Do you have a bag packed and ready to go out the door for a weekend or couple day trip?
Do you have a place to go?

The shelter provided for the victims is a gun free zone, so you cannot go there armed.

What if your home was destroyed?

Do you have a cache or storage facility for needed items?

You can spend literally thousands trying to fill every void, but you can also take an old duffle bag and fill it with a few of your clothing items that are looking a little worn and replace them with new without killing your budget. You can also set aside a few hundred bucks over a year to put in that same bag, as well as some MRE's or mountain house meals and a Sawyer water filter. A memory stick with your important documents is cheap insurance as well. Keep these things in your car's trunk or the back of your SUV to keep things separate from your regular stash. Maybe set up a circle of friends with the same ideas.

The best idea would be to have a small storage unit within walking distance for your stuff or overflow. It's cheap insurance. You can even set up a corporation and put it in the corp name for a little anonymity.

Look to the news and put yourself into the headlines. See what you have done that would keep these stories from happening to you, or how your reaction would be to the events in the news. The last advice I have is to learn to use the items you have packed away prior to betting your life on them.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Spring Break Woodcrafting Trip.

The boys and I are all loaded up for a trip to the woods. We have set goals, some a bit too lofty, but they are a solid plan. I showed my eldest manchild how to strike fire from a ferro rod with fatwood and the youngest is going to forego a shelter and make one of his own design to sleep in. The eldest is responsible for the fire for the week. Should be interesting, for sure!
We went over the meal plan, the camp site, the sleeping arrangements as well as crafts we intend to accomplish while there. Should be a fun trip. I'll be getting some pics to use for some upcoming reviews and might even get some video footage if it gets really boring. I hope everyone has a safe Easter and can enjoy spring break!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Trained Agents of Doom

Many post apocalyptic books contain some sort of "Goon Squad" that seeks to destroy the hero and leave the public in disarray. Some have the goons be trained, others have them as inept thugs. Either way you slice this poop sandwich, it's going to stink. Is this a realistic scenario? From reading blow by blow details from war torn and folded countries like Liberia, Congo and Venezuela, we can begin to see what happens in a power vacuum or war torn area. Factions will exist, they will become territorial and only lash out when cornered or forced to by dwindling supplies.

The trained and motivated aren't going to be your first priority. It's the desperate and hungry that will be thrust upon your property looking for supplies, if things devolve to that level. Your best bet it to stay anonymous. Keep yourself as innocuous as possible. Grey man all the time, without drawing any attention to yourself or your actions.

Buying bulk items at non commercial stores will get you noticed. Same with getting a pallet of food delivered to your home. Your neighbors will notice. If you don't have a basement, build shelves near the ceiling of your garage to house your stores so that people driving by can't see 20 food buckets piled about.

If you have disregarded all thoughts of remaining anonymous and have decided to advertise your abilities and discontent, you will need to have a method of early warning and detection for your adversaries. I'm not going to go into the specifics, but you will need a few minutes notice that the boogey man is coming.

A trained and determined enemy will do surveillance on you and yours in order to find your vulnerabilities. If they find that you have minimal security or personnel, they may opt to just execute you from long range to keep their exposure to danger low. Counter surveillance will be key in that situation. That art takes people and time, so make sure you have trained trackers to interdict outside assets. Drone technology is another issue to deal with. Modern drones can house sophisticated optics and infrared technology to track your outpost.

The moral of the story is that it's easier to remain hidden than it is to protect a known target. Due diligence staying hidden will be much easier than expecting a fight.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Desperate Times Call For Desperate Measures

The Title is often spoken by those that make a decision based in perceived desperation. A person at the end of their rope, so to say, will be tempted to use faulty logic in an attempt to justify their actions. Unless you've lives in a 3rd world country under abusive conditions, you cannot imagine the deplorable environment humanity can survive in. A person living in the USA has a much different outlook on what deplorable signifies to them.

When the title statement is uttered, and the person isn't danger of losing life or limb, I have a very indifferent attitude towards their logic. There are times when it's both logical and decisive, but for the most part it's overused. The "Desperate Measures" you speak of will more than likely be based in revenge than in defense of yourself or loved ones. Let's be cognizant of our situation prior to utilizing a non beneficial tactic or plan. The results of such actions may be less than optimal.

We must also be aware that in the instance where you put someone into a situation of pure desperation, they may act out in an illogical or suicidal manner. When a person perceives that they have nothing to live for, they are a prime candidate for a mental breakdown or violent outburst. We are, after all, only human. When a person or organization decides to destroy someone's life or livelihood, you should be aware that those actions can have far reaching consequences beyond the intent of the protagonist. We call that "the rule of unintended consequences".

Considering the depths at which the human condition is capable of sliding to, add in a little mob rule into the equation and things can go off the rails fairly quickly. There is no greater threat to logic than an angry mob. Anonymity within that nameless pool of humanity allows normally pliant individuals to reveal deeply veiled hate and violence to flow without repercussions. Their idea of desperate measures is rather vague and has more to do with the will of the mob than the actual affront. Ferguson should be a shining example of those actions.

When we look at current events, we see people making choices based on a receding standard of desperate. What we, as informed citizens, don't want to do, is to push people into desperate action. That goes for the government, taxpayers, racial divisions, religions or even your neighbors. Instead of firing the lazy guy at work, let him know that he needs to find another job. Tell him you have enough evidence to fire him, but felt it would be in the best interest of everyone involved if he or she just left on their own. Today's faceless corporate mindset leads to acts of desperation for those of our society that have never dealt with adversity.

The sliding scale of desperation slips sharply as generations continue to relish in the false narrative that everyone is special. Participation trophy generations will soon be a large portion of the work force. When that happens I can see a significant slide of our moral obligations and seeing the corporate world continue to decline the talent level to the point that the more able and motivated will become the minority. Sometimes tough love is necessary. A little desperation can be motivating, but if the person doesn't have the fortitude to endure, they may turn to illogical actions.

In a defensive situation, you never want to encounter a person with nothing to lose. They act erratically and will not respond logically. The best situation is to allow that person an exit from your vicinity. My rule is never to get close enough to a perpetrator to allow them to touch me. You can also use your situational awareness to keep desperate people away from you. This can be as simple as not going places where people go when they are depressed or down on their luck. Casinos, Bars, Liquor stores, Payday advance, Title loan co's and red light district areas are all prone to have people with nothing to lose utilizing their services. Steer clear. You are tempting fate by frequenting businesses in those areas. Even a justified shooting can lead to arrest, loss of your firearm and permit, loss of time from work and much more. A threat avoided if far superior to a threat overcome. YOU have something, everything really, to lose in that situation. Don't allow a person with nothing to lose to put you in their situation by not using your head.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Organization Is Part Of Your "A" Game

Time not utilized for the betterment of your situation is time wasted. I'm not saying you must lose sleep and not take time off, as those two items directly influence your abilities and mental health.
 What I'm discussing is how much time you spend chasing down missing or misplaced items, buying new items when you know that you've already purchased it, but can't find it. These situations have a negative impact on you and your family. This also goes for grocery trips, meal planning, your job, your future and most importantly, the legacy you instill in your children.

I'll be honest, my storage sections in my home are a wreck. I generally only keep a few things flawlessly organized. Those are my critical items that directly control my life. My toolboxes, safe, ammo storage, reloading gear, and my computer files are kept immaculate. I know where and how everything is in those places. If I need an item, I know exactly where it should be. If it's something I *might* need, all bets are off. It may take me hours of digging in the spare room to find a spare charging cord, computer cable or spare notepad.

My work truck is pretty much always dirty, I might have some trash in the back seat and there is pretty much always a few cardboard boxes and a roll of wire in the bed, but if you open up the tool box, you will see a perfectly organized tetris style stack of power tool boxes and trays full of ancillary parts. Everything has a place, and it all fits perfectly without extra room for it to bang back and forth in the box. It's all fitted so that nothing can move. When I'm working, I don't have time to waste digging through a pile to find what I need. The profitability of the job depends on my organizational skills. I find that people that don't deal with the same constraints deal with the issue differently. A friend of mine keeps his truck immaculate. It's neat as a pin inside and he never allows trash in the truck. He washes it constantly, the appearance being as important as the functionality. At times I will help him out and his shiny stainless steel mirrored finish tool box looks like a Home Depot threw up in it. He knows it's in there, but where is anyone's guess. The tools are like strata that must be dug up in order to find the buried treasure. The going joke between us is that when I die, he gets my truck tool box.

Another item that requires scrutiny above most is your larder and survival gear. Let's face it, when you need it, you NEED it. If your food buckets are in disarray, you will need to waste time you could be using to make your situation better on the organization of items that should already be stored properly. In a situation where a blizzard has dropped power, is your spare heater and/or generator gassed up and ready to go? Do you know where the funnel to fill the tank is? When was the last time you tested your emergency items?

Your situational awareness is also directly affected by your organizational skills. If your EDC items are in order, you don't need to go patting yourself to find your keys. You know where everything is, and you have developed a habit of keeping them in the same spot, regardless of your attire choice. This allows you to keep your awareness directed outward, not inward on your lost items.

Breaking it down (much like your preparedness) is a fundamental skill that must be learned in your own manner. Everyone organizes things differently in their minds, so everyone will organize their items differently. That's fine, but I do recommend organizing things in tiers. Firstly, organize the things you touch and use every day. Next, organize your critically important items, finally you will start organizing your long term sustainment items. This will allow you to make progress without it becoming overwhelmed in the process. Your personal efficiency will increase exponentially, as will your ability to determine your needs.

I've always found that the most successful people I know are the ones that utilize their time well, or use lots of it. Either you can kill yourself working countless hours, or you can make those hours count for more. I choose the latter. My family and my community are better served by my presence as a youth leader and head of household.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Snowmageddon 2016- lessons learned.

The threat is that people might be snowed in for up to 3 days. Power Might go out for a night. No Armageddon, no threat of widespread panic, no DHS threat upgrade, yet the store shelves are empty!

Had this been a true emergency, imagine how the general public would have responded. Instead of just bare shelves, you would have bare shelves, murder, rape and pillaging. People aren't reasonable, they have zero survival skills past the next 24 hours. Just peruse facebook for a few hours. I see people I know that work menial jobs wearing 600 dollar outfits and driving a new jalopy every few months from the buy here, pay here lot. No thought of the future, no idea that the money faucet would ever end up dry. They always have the new Ick phone 47 and the latest fashion and never consider the idea of going without should there be an event to disrupt society. Uncle Sugar will always be there to make it right is they get too stoned to get up and go to work, thus losing their job.

These are the Zombies. The dangerous, nothing left to lose, hungry, insolent masses that will be out to get you when the chips are down and survival comes down to the prepared and the Zombies. Things are good right now, Keynesian economics has fooled everyone into a false belief that the US is doing great and money is flowing into the middle class. We still have people fighting to the death over sale items on Black Friday. Urban youths continue to strike innocent subjects for fun. The Knockout game is now the Cut your face game and not a soul is worried about it. Remember Ferguson when the police pulled back? I had friends on the ground protecting some infrastructure and stores when the police went away. They won't be there when things fall apart and it's wide spread.  It's all a foreign problem to suburbanites. Imagine the depravity that would ensue in the aftermath of a coordinated electrical infrastructure attack. Think of an attack like the one on Silicone Valley in larger scale.

I recently read a book that explained the effectiveness of a coordinated mortar attack on several refineries using time delayed mortars from 2 angles. Genius to say the least, but catastrophic to the economy if it happens. Think about 10 dollar a gallon gas and it's impact on the economy. The 2007-2008 financial meltdown was triggered by fuel prices. Our current economy is on the razors edge, now would be the perfect time for an attack to have the greatest impact.

How would you survive? Would that $3k 1911 keep your family fed? Do you have enough fuel to put in a garden in the spring? If today was the last day you could make it to the grocery, would you make it til spring? Can you even heat your house without the utilities you rely on?

A snow storm is a non event. It's a hiccup and not a heart attack, yet the shelves are bare and people are acting like idiots. When it really happens, people are going to come unhinged in the first 24 hours when they can't nuke their corn dogs and the VP runs out of their brand of cigarettes. Prepare accordingly.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Another Frigid Weekend Afield In The Books.

Spent the entire weekend out in the woods at a winter scout camping event. A few new twists that I hadn't counted on came up.

1. Frozen wet wood- It's about the hardest thing in the world to process. Had I needed to process it in the field and split it, I would have only been able to split 12-14" long pieces. It's rather tenacious when frozen in in the teens. We had to set up the split wood near the fire to dry it out prior to burning it.

2. Frozen shoes- Getting into a frozen pair of shoes after sleeping in a cozy Hammock was brutal to say the least. Drying them prior to sleeping was impossible. It was just too cold to keep them in my sleeping bag.

3. Frozen ground is hard to dig- Had we needed to dig a latrine, it would have been nearly impossible. Luckily we had pit toilets so it was less so. I will say that a pit toilet is best used when it's frigid. The stink is gone, as well as the bugs.

4. NEVER TRUST A WEATHER MAN. Temps dropped to 10 degrees below the forecast temperature. Instead of 21 degrees, we hit 10 above with low single digit wind chill.

5. Keeping food in frigid weather sounds like a snap, right? Nope. We had to keep eggs and milk in the cooler and throw a bottle of warm water in them every once in a while to keep it from freezing. French toast in the teens is a struggle. The milk and egg mix would constantly freeze. We made a cake for the cooking competition and it was pretty hard to get it fixed prior to freezing solid. Then add the temperature differential into you dutch oven cooking calculations and it took an additional 25% cooking time. I still won, but it sucked. Had to be a corn product. I made Corn cake with cherry chocolate drizzle. Cost me about 5 bucks to make. Bragging rights, priceless!

6. Bring backups to your backups. By the end of the weekend I loaned out 2 military sleep systems, 2 pairs of socks, a pair of gloves, a pair of boots and a bunch of toilet paper.

My scouts did well with their skills tests this weekend. They had to bring their own supplies and use them to do various skills as required. They weren't given specifics besides they would need to use orienteering to find the stations. They had to make a fire after getting wet. All items used to make fire had to be dunked in a bucket prior to use. They had to then build the fire that would burn through a line suspended at 24" for a timed result. There were other various skills related to survival and they came in 2nd over all with only 2 scouts present with high ranks.

I didn't get much sleep at all. The air was so cold that my throat would dry out and the pain would wake me. Add in the full moon and it was a rough night. I'm a very light sleeper as well and the coyotes were making some noise! We had to hurry home for my boys' birthday party. Their birthdays are about a week apart so we usually hold the party at the same time. Oddly enough, my eldest received a new 20 degree Kelty speeling bag.... Perfect timing for our next camp out in February.

The upcoming week is going to be super busy, I'm not sure how much I'll be posting. Hopefully a little because I have some review updates to make and some field use to write about.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Big New Year For Me.

Last year I taught and assisted with the training of around 300 people, both youth and adults, in firearms safety and use. I learned a lot from my mentor about firearms instruction and how to motivate change in complacent skills. He is a retired special forces team sargent so he's very familiar with teaching people how to fight when he doesn't even peak the same language. This skill has taken me by surprise due to the ease at which I was able to emulate his teaching style and interpret some of the military skills he teaches to civilians. It's so much different than the NRA instructor course I took 2 years ago. Blending the two has seen a marked improvement in skill dissemination and retention in the students we taught last year.

This year we will be teaching far more classes and in a few extra disciplines than we had taught prior. My partner was on a code word anti terrorist team and he was able to learn some skills very few outside of delta and the seals get to practice. After the military, he took some executive protection courses by a well know school in Cali, then came here to work for the local big town sheriff as their building security expert and for protection of foreign dignitaries. He got bored and tired of politics so he quit that gig. Those skills he was taught are very sought after, even though he's pushing the age to be able to display the athleticism,  he can still perform the necessary drills. This has allowed me to pick up on some very interesting and tactically sound skills.

The biggest shock to me was that trigger pullers are a dime a dozen. They have their place in the field and are indispensable for violence of action needs, but the real difference is made in the intelligence and communications field. Those two disciplines are responsible for the victory when things go right. Choosing your battles and fighting where you choose to is far more valuable that I had ever considered. Drop 50 of the best troops in an open field and a group of 5 moderately talented snipers can decimate them and make their unit non functional in minutes. It's all about applying force in the right manner and at the right time.

Intelligence can be little items as much as large caches of info. Noticing that the man that take interest in you has baggy pants or crappy shoes that he can't run in will determine your fight or flight response to an attack. Which hand they wear their watch on determines their dominant hand and you can watch it more closely if you feel a threat escalation is coming.

Communications is critical in a force on force engagement. Combine that communication with intelligence during a fight and you can become almost prescient while deploying your violence of action. That keeps you from just reacting and fighting your opponents battle, not yours. Communication can be as simple as hand signals and verbal interaction, or as complex as electronic burst transmission, but it's all critical when you don't have it.