Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jesus wept.

(Via the Drudge Report)

The headline reads

MIZZOU CAMPUS ACTIVISTS AND BLACK LIVES MATTER COMPLAIN ABOUT PARIS STEALING THE SPOTLIGHT

For once, I've got nothin', unless it's just "Stick a fork in Mizzou, it's done."

I didn't say anything last night

Mostly because I was seething.  Seethingly angry at the terrorists, at the governments who have allowed this to happen and at the mindsets that prevent people from having the most effective toolset with which to protect themselves.

I had hoped I might be a bit less angry today.  It's not working out that way.  Yes, the heat is mostly gone, but there is a bed of coals that is going to last for quite some time.

Earlier, police officials said they found a Syrian passport on the body of a suicide bomber at another site targeted in the assaults, the Paris soccer stadium where three were killed. The other victims were killed in bursts of gunfire in two popular Paris neighborhoods.

A Greek official said the terrorist with the Syrian passport crossed into the European Union through the Greek island of Leros in October, a transient point for Syrian refugees fleeing their war-torn country.

Citizen Protection Minister Nikos Toskas, in charge of police forces, issued a statement that said,  "On the case of the Syrian passport found at the scene of the terrorist attack, we announce that the passport holder had passed from Leros on Oct. 3 where he was identified based on EU rules.”

"We do not know if the passport was checked by other countries through which the holder likely passed," Toskas added.

The BBC, citing British officials, reported Saturday that the attackers were members of a self-contained cell and had travelled to Syria.

Well.  It's not like we weren't warned.  It isn't like this couldn't be foreseen.  But instead, when Frau Merkel flung open Pandora's Box, most governments in Europe went along with it.  Yes, some of those on the front lines of the invasion--yes, I said invasion and I damn well mean "invasion"--have finally figured out that they need to start building defenses, but it's a case of too little, too late.  The damage is done.  The enemy is in the citadel and he has already struck once.  Rest assured that he will strike again.

To the People of France, our first and oldest ally:  You have bled for us and we for you.  Know that, in spite of our governments and their actions and inactions, the people of America grieve with you and share your anger.  I do not know what we as a people can do to help you in this dark hour other than to tell you that we grieve with you and share your anger.  Stay strong.  Do what you can on an individual basis to defend yourselves.  Keep your senses sharp.  Channel your anger into resolve.  Do not forget that you are the heirs of Charlemagne.

Given our would-be king's recent and current actions, I think we will be joining you on the field of battle soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I may be a bit late today

But to the men and women of our military, please accept my sincerest thanks for a job always well done.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A little something on communications

I have made some progress on communications lately, although some of it is in the nature of "Two steps forward, one step back" and an unfortunate incidence of "One step forward, two steps back."

This would all go better with pictures, but it's after 3 AM (reason for that below) and I'm not going to get pictures now.  Later maybe.

I have two vehicles that I'm adding 2 meter/440 Mhz gear to.  One is an older Chevy Suburban.  This means you have lots of room to work, plenty of places to put equipment and all sorts of choices of how and where to mount things.  The other is a newer Subaru Outback, which means you have no room for anything extra and damn few choices for mounting anything at all.

The Suburban is getting a Kenwood TM-D700 that I got from a Silent Key's estate.  While the radio has been well-loved,  it's in good operating condition and cleaned up nicely.  It's older, but paired with a Comet CA-2x4SR antenna it should do everything I need and more.  If I feel the urge to update it, I can pair it with the latest generation head piece for about $300.

I thought to have the install completed this weekend, but it seems that the cable I had pulled used wires that are too large for the connectors I purchased.  Doing some additional looking, it seems that with work, I can actually use the factory cable for the remote head.  This is a good thing, because if I make a wiring mistake, I'll be making that $300 upgrade.  But I'm going to have to remove 2 seats and peel back the carpet.  Again.  What you go through to have a professional looking installation....

The control head is mounted on a Lido Seat Bolt Mount.  Basically, one end goes under a seat bolt, then you bend the stalk to put the control head where you want it.  That's it to the left, on its initial test power up.  The top has a gimbal mount so you can position the head just where you want it.

The Subaru hasn't been started, but all the parts are in hand.  It's going to get a Kenwood TM-V71A.  Different feature set from the TM-D700, still way more than I'll probably use.  It too will be paired with a Comet CA-2x4SR antenna.

Mounting this one is going to be simple and ugly.  There is nowhere in the car to mount a radio, unless I take the stereo out, which I'm not.  So it's going to be mounted on the side of the console in the passenger footwell, but up high where I can see it.  The Subie is my daily driver, and it's not all that often anyone rides with me.  When they do...well, it's my car, so watch your knee on the radio if you don't mind.

One thing that is not going to be compromised on is how these radios will be programmed.  Yes, you get to program radios these days.  Kenwood, along with most other manufacturers, offers free software for the purpose.  It works for the most part, but it's not the greatest in the world, and you have to come up with a suitable cable.  RT Systems, on the other hand, has software that is customized to each radio and it comes with a custom cable.  Paired with a new Lenovo E550 that I picked up for a song. and a copy of the ARRL TravelPlus for Repeaters CD-ROM, I can easily program my radios with repeater frequencies for where I am plus any trips I take.

Obviously this has not been an inexpensive proposition.  I've noted before that, due to my job, I've been blessed with the income to be able to do these things.  However, it's perfectly possible to do something similar for less than half of what I have in this and still do it with new equipment.  You can do it new for even less if you are willing to go down market and use some of the Chinese gear that's out there.  I've heard that Alinco also makes some decent mobile gear (bump the price back up a bit), and there is always the used market.  You can also choose to forego the multi-band capability and just stick to 2 meter, which will save you a considerable amount.

Also bear in mind that this is not the sort of thing one does before you're squared away on "beans, band aids and bullets".  This is what you do once all that is done.

As I've mentioned in this space my prepping has taken a different track due to the changes in my health over the last few years.  I've tried ignoring those changes, but that hasn't worked out so well.  I still don't like it, but it is what it is and I must adapt.  There will be no change for the better--I am as good as I will ever be.  There is no magic cure for what ails me.  But one thing I can do is make myself valuable enough that folks consider me worth the trouble of keeping around in the event of an event.  Being the guy who can keep the last dregs of technology working might be a useful skill set.

I probably do need to see about some solar panels at some point....

A not-tab-clearing post

It's been a while and I've accumulated a few things you'll be interested in.  Interestingly enough, they aren't in browser tabs, so this one isn't a tab clearing post.

The first is Shooting Performance.  If you've watched any of Michael Bane's The Best Defense shows the last few years, you'll be familiar with Mike Seeklander.  Mike is a fixture on that show, and with good reason--he's good.  He runs his own training school, Shooting Performance.  Like many trainers, he gives away quite a bit on the Internet for free, both as a way of getting people to take the paying courses/buying the the materials and as a service to the shooting public.  I've watched a lot of the free stuff and bought some of the materials, which I've found to be of very good quality.  I hope at some point in my life to work in a class or two if things permit.

The second item is from the October 30, 2015 Shooting Wire.  Paul Markel pens a guest piece on "Crushing the Anti-gun Argument".  As he notes, this argument only works if your opponent has the ability for rational thought, so if you're up against one of those emoting assholes who pleads that "We have to do something for the childrennnnnn!", it ain't going to work.  However, if you're having a holiday discussion with your sister-in-law and she is a fence-sitter, having this one in your pocket can't hurt.

The third piece is from the Tactical Wire for November 5, 2015.  Tiger McKee has some thoughts on field maintenance of firearms.  He starts by setting the scene:

It's been a long day of walking, evading and hiding "Worst-case" has become reality. Civil unrest has forced you into escape mode. Thankfully you're prepared and ready. You find a safe place to secure for the night. No fire or light tonight. It's still not safe to attract attention.

Not a place any of us would care to be.  He goes on to point out that even though you haven't fired your gun, it still needs to be maintained, because a day in the field exposes it to all sorts of dirt and nastiness that could cause it to misfire when you need it.  True enough, and a small cleaning kit should be a part of your Get Me Home kit if you think there is any chance that getting home will take more than a day.

I'm going to part company with him on the spare parts, however.  As has been noted here and in other places, the amount of gear you can carry is finite.  The more you carry, the less mobile you are and the more likely you are to have an accident that injures you and further decreases (or eliminates) your mobility.  Not what you need.  The Get Me Home kit needs to do just that, and it needs to do it in a spartan manner.  You're not going to rebuild Western Civilization with it, you are going to get home as quickly as possible.

YMMV however.  Take everyone's advice, look at your particular situation and make your own choices.

And that's it for this round of not tab clearing tab clearing.

Pulling an all-nighter

In my more youthful days, pulling an all-nighter meant that I had either found myself one hell of a party, that I had drawn a seriously crappy duty or that I had allowed myself to get way behind on some important work and was playing catch up.

Later on, it meant that something in my life had gone seriously pear-shaped.  The last all-nighter I can recall had to do with my late father's unexpected entry into the hospital and the need to care for a bedridden mother while spooling up in-home care folks and going back and forth to the hospital to check on my Dad.  Yeah, that was all sorts of fun.

This time, it's because the damn migraines have went off the rails (again) and the neurologist has "suggested" that I have an EEG.  This suggestion is driven by the rather odd dreams I have been having for some time and which have now taken it in their mind to turn into nightmares.  This is apparently a Bad Sign, and given that migraine sufferers are 3x more likely to have a seizure disorder than you normal folks, it seems I'm due for a visit with yesterday's version of High Tech.

I do have the comfort of knowing that with an EEG we are at least not looking for something truly nasty like a tumor.  We're just on the hunt for one of a number of seizure disorders, from epilepsy on down the list.  Oh joy.

Personally, I think we're on a wild goose chase, seeing as how I don't have any of the other signs, such as waking up having bitten my tongue or incontinence.  I don't have any lost time while awake, other than screwing around with the Internet.  However, we have to rule this out, and they want to see what happens while I'm sleeping, so in order not to inconvenience the techs, I get to stay up all night so I can in theory fall asleep for them in the morning.  Knowing me and my preferred sleep patterns, good luck with that.  You have just moved me to my preferred schedule in one day.  And I'll play hell getting back on a normal schedule.

There is some benefit to this, though.  I've got time to write this little note to those of you who still inexplicably stop by to read my occasional output.  I've had time to walk through some of the blogs I link to and see what those folks are up to.  And I'm going to do a sort of not-tab-clearing-but-tab-clearing post of some things I have found that you may find of interest.  Which, given the way blogging software works, you'll see before you see this.

Gotta love it.