Friday, December 30, 2016

Why I don't look down on Hi-Point owners

There are two constant arguments in gunnie circles that just leave me cold--the incessant caliber wars and the elitist turd burglars who just love to run down the owners of inexpensive handguns. We're going to talk about the turd burglars.

There are a number of reasons I quit actively participating in gun fora, one of them being elitist types who would consistently opine that if you didn't own a $750/$1000/$2500 pistol that you weren't serious about self defense and that you would/deserved to die in your first real self defense encounter. I fully suspect these folks have never had to actually make decisions such as "Do I take the car to a mechanic for repairs or do I do it in the parking lot in the rain myself so I can eat this week?" or "It's the last week of the month, is it more important to put my last $20 into the gas tank or my belly?"

They should try it sometime. It gives you a rather different perspective on a lot of things, affordability of handguns being only one of them. My self defense gun during this period was a borrowed .22 bolt action rifle. No pistol, I could't afford one of those.

So trolling through the Book of Fail today, I came across a post shared from Greg Ellifritz. Greg was at the range recently, and ran into someone with a Jimenez and a story.  It's quite a tale; I think you'd do well to read it.

You may not look at inexpensive guns quite the same way again.

That pesky Fifth Amendement

It isn't' only the Second Amendment that gets in the government's way--the Fifth is an essential bar when it comes to railroading a citizen in court. You need to know your rights pertaining to it, and it goes further than the Miranda warning we've all memorized after hearing it a thousand times on TV.  Ars Technica has an excellent piece on passwords, passcodes and when you should and shouldn't give them up to law enforcement.

Knowledge is power.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Here I was, felling terribly guilty...

It's been nearly two weeks and I've not written a thing here.  Yeah, holidays, the inevitable holiday family illness, so on and so forth.  Santa was good to me, I got a Pluggable Digital Microscope, which, as you will see at the link, is an incredibly cool toy.  Haven't had a chance to play with mine yet, but it's due to rain Thursday, hee-hee.

So until something moves me to write at length, I have a couple of YouTube videos that I found on Failbook.  One is Bob Vogl on pistol grip and the other is Pat McNamara on how much trigger finger you may need to use and warning, it's NSFW.  Both of these will also pop up enough more video leads to keep you in videos for a long afternoon.  Enjoy.


Saturday, December 17, 2016

A fake solution to fake news

In the wake of Donald Trump's thumping of Hillary Clinton and the need to find someone or something to pin it on (because it couldn't possibly be that she was the most disliked candidate in history), social media and the mainstream media latched onto the concept of "fake news" as one explanation for the loss. In case you haven't heard about this concept, fake news is a news story that is provably untrue using objective facts. Good with that so far?

So Facebook, Twitter, Google and the like have formed an "industry group", whose work is funded by groups tied to the likes of George Soros, dedicated to identifying fake news stories so that they can bury them on their services. This group is made up of the likes of Snopes, Politifact and ABC News.  No identifiable bias there. Starting to get nervous yet?

I have dragged you over that freshly salted broken glass so you have some background for this piece, where the gunnies' favorite academic, Dr. John Lott, dismantles this entire fake news filtering business, especially as it pertains to guns, and points out that once again, the left is resorting to censorship when it can't resort to facts.

Here's where you can get in on the action.  If you are on one of the social media sites, remember that your eyeballs are what they are selling. They want to draw people in so they can put ads in front of them.  That's their revenue model. We can disrupt that model if we wish. Send their support idiots messages telling them that if this goes through, you'll be removing your account, and then follow through if they do.  Yes, it might be hard. I know there are some history-related groups that I will miss, and it will be more difficult to keep up with out-of-state friends. But it's a small price to pay for your freedom.

Something to consider

For some, this is a time of year when stress seems overwhelming.  For others, the recent election has upset their calm. Still others look at the year that is almost done and are unhappy with how it has past. Some look toward the year to come with fear and trepidation.

Learning to take things a day at a time is something of an art.  Even when you think you have it down, you'll find yourself slipping back into old channels of thought.

So I dipped into my collection of quotations and found one that has always help me regain my balance.

Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones; and when you have laboriously accomplished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake. 

Victor Hugo

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

We must note the passing

(Via Frugal Squirrels)

The F-4 Phantom will be making its final flight on December 21, 2016 after 58 years of defending our country.  With some affection known as "Old Smokey" and the "Lead Sled", the F-4 for many years ruled the skys wherever it flew.  However, time and technological advances have rendered it obsolete, so like most of the rest of the old Cold Warriors, it's time for it to go out to pasture.  Given the expense of maintenance and flight, I doubt few if any will remain flying in private hands, although some may remain flying in foreign air forces for some years.

We'll remember them fondly.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Today I make an exception

As a rule, I make a single post on December 7.  I'm making an exception today.

Once again we remember Pearl Harbor


The number of Pearl Harbor survivors is dwindling fast.  But their sacrifices, and the sacrifice of those who did not survive the attack, are and will be remembered as long as there is a United States.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Watch this video

Watch the video at the top of this story.  WATCH IT.

This man and his family are on the run for their lives.  Obviously they made it, we have the video.  I'm happy for them, because it was a very close run thing.

We can Monday Morning Quarterback this to death, but I'm not going to do that.  The Gatlinburg wildfires blew up so fast that a lot of people got caught with their pants down.  This wasn't a hurricane that was forecasts days in advance, nor is it stupid people who ventured into a desert with inadequate gear.  This is people who were going about their normal lives and suddenly the maw of hell opened up around them.  The fires were many miles away and then suddenly, they weren't.  Sometimes, shit does happen.

What I want to say is that this is the best thing you can show people who don't understand why you prep.  Show them this and tell them "This is why you need to be situationally aware. This is why you have go bags.  This is why you have your plans already made and your evacuation routes already planned out.  You don't want to find yourself dodging wildfires, dodging downed trees, dodging downed power lines and dodging neighbors trying to get out at the last minute."

The 21st Century has given us wonderful tools.  We can do things that would appear to be magic to someone from 200 years ago.  But if you don't use them, one day you may find yourself dodging a wildfire--or a riot, or a flood, or caught in the aftermath of an earthquake or a fire in your house--dazed, confused, maybe panicked, not knowing what to do or where to go.  In an emergency, you will not step up to the needs of the emergency.  You will default to the level of your planning and training.

Tell your "don't get it" friends that you don't want to see them on FOXNews--or in the funeral home at a closed casket ceremony.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Bro, do you even Gab?

There's a new social media platform out there that is unlike anything so far.  Not so much technologically, although that is also true to some extent, but in terms of attitude.  Gab is a Twitter-like platform where one and all are invited to, as they put it in hashtag form, #SpeakFreely.

Dedicated to the concept of free speech, Gab is not like Twitter, Reddit, Facebook and the like.  You may say, rant or even spew what you wish, and trust me, I've seen all three.  What Gab does differently is that they don't act as supreme editor.  If you don't want to see something, you  have control of the tools to block a user or posts with certain words/phrases.  The onus is on you if you want censorship.  In this way, Gab actually harks back to the days of the old Usenet newgroups, where we all had our "twit files", into which went all the people we didn't want to hear from any more.

There is a lot of MSM crap about Gab being all "alt-right", whatever the hell that is.  I guess that means "Anyone who fails to agree with us," or perhaps "Anyone who voted for Trump."  I'm not seeing it.  So far, I haven't seen the KKK burning crosses or the Nazis goose stepping down the virtual Main Street.  I have, however, seen folks like Claire Wolfe and Borepatch, along with Milo Yiannopoulos and Vox Day.

I'm happy to say that I was among the first 100,000 to get in (Yeah, I'm not that special) and Daughter was close behind.  I'm not sure what the current user count is, but it is a lively place, and pretty addictive at this point.  The Gab team is adding features, and I hear a smartphone app is due in December.

They're letting in 25,000 or more folks per day, so if you're interested, go get your name on the waiting list.  I believe it took Daughter 3-4 days, so it's not a long wait.  I think you'll find it worth your time, if for nothing else finding out just how much news is being censored.  If you don't believe me, look up #pizzagate if you have a strong stomach.  Never heard of it prior to Gab, wish I hadn't heard of it, and I hope that it gets broken wide-ass open and all of 'em get brought to justice.  This kind of justice.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving


We here at The Freehold wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving.  We hope that when you count your blessings that they outnumber your setbacks this year.  While we have had a couple of hard knocks, we have pulled through.  We take great comfort in the results of the recent election and have great hopes for real change in our nation.  Overall, things seem to be looking up for now.

And for those of you who will be watching football later today...Go Redskins!



Sunday, November 20, 2016

The "Get Home Bag"

One of the frequent topics in prepping is the "bug out bag".  The bug out bag was originally conceived as the bag you had at hand if you needed to bail out of your home on extremely short notice.  It's a handy piece of kit that a lot of people still ignore.

Pretty soon, some people began putting a bag in their vehicles and calling that a bug out bag.  "Hey, I may need to leave work because of the Great Meteor and I might need this stuff to get home!"  Obviously true enough, but the naming offended those of us with a sense of orderliness (also known as "you OCD a-holes") and we decided to give it a name more descriptive of it actual use, the "Get Home Bag" or "Get Me Home Bag".

Your Plan A should always be "drive home", which means you probably won't need anything in this bag.  Plan A is a wonderful thing, but as the old saying goes, "All plans are out of date upon contact with the enemy."  If there is a sudden catastrophic event, say the Great Meteor, panic may well clog every road in sight, leaving you to resort to Plan B, which is grabbing your Get Home Bag and hoofing it home.  Aside:  While you don't resort to Plan B too quickly, but don't wait too long, either.  There's no rule of thumb to know when it's time to abandon your vehicle.  You'll have to trust your finely honed sense of survival to tell you.

The purpose of the Get Home Bag is simple--to get you home in one piece, safely and quickly, in the event you find yourself on foot and need to walk home.  It isn't going to allow you to get 10 people to their homes and it won't allow you to venture off into the woods and restart Western Civilization after a collapse.  It's the minimum stuff you need to get home from where you are when things get hairy, in an expeditious fashion, in good health and without getting hurt.

Note I said "minimum".  This is a key concept.  Some of the get home bag content lists I've seen posted make me think they aren't going home, since they've packed home in their ruck.  This is contrary to the driving idea of getting home in a hurry.  If the world has suddenly went pear-shaped, the longer you are outside the boundaries of your home, the greater the chances that you will be outside them permanently.  You aren't some spec-ops super soldier and you aren't going to hump an 80 pound ruck 25 miles a day.  Most of us will do good if we can carry 20 pounds 10 miles a day, and that's the ugly truth of it.

So, how do you build a get home bag that fits in that 20 pound limit but that still covers all the possibilities you might find yourself confronting?  Simple.  Take everything with you.

Yep, if your vehicle will allow it, take everything you think you might possibly need with you.  If it doesn't, obviously you'll need to reduce your list to what the vehicle will allow, but I'm serious--take it all.  Take summer clothes, winter clothes, rain gear, two weeks of food, whatever you think it will take to get you home.  Stuff it in some big cheap duffel bags, plastic totes or whatever fits your vehicle best.  And take a good ruck that will let you carry 20 pounds of gear.  Pack that on top.  Explanation in a bit.

Let's take a bit of an aside into "What constitutes 'everything'?"  While that could be an entire topic of its own, we'll keep it simple. Apply the 80/20 rule.   Consider the places you find yourself 80% of the time.  Plan your list based on those places.  For example, 90%+ of the time, I'm within a 35 mile radius of home.  Given my health, my physical abilities, the terrain I'd have to travel and the density of population, I allow for a 5 day trip.  That means I only have to cover 7 miles per day.  If I do better, great, but I only have to manage 7.  I know that, barring accident or injury, I can manage that while carrying 20 pounds on my back.

Knowing that I'm planning on a 5 day trip, that tells me how much I need in terms of consumables, such as food.  Knowing the terrain tells me what I will need in terms of shelter (this will also vary dependent on the season) as well as the availability of water.  Population density guides me in terms of knowing will I be able to walk the roads or stay concealed, moving at night and thus moving more slowly as well as how well I need to be armed.  My physical abilities dictate my load.

Time of year will figure into this as well.  If it's summer, you'll probably want to wait out the heat of the day, moving in the cooler mornings, evenings and nights, potentially slowing down your travel.  Cold weather will dictate warmer clothes and more shelter, including sleeping gear, plus more food.

I'm going to assume at this point you're starting to get the idea.  You know where you are most of the time, you've considered your routes home, you have paid attention to them and have some idea what it would be like to walk them, and you've considered what and how much gear you'd need to make it happen if you had to do it on foot.

So gather up all that gear--the spring, the summer, the fall and the winter.  It will probably be a pretty big pile.  Start sorting--do I absolutely have to have this item?  Is it something for comfort, something for safety or something that I will die without if I really need it?  Under what circumstances will I need it?  Only you can say if it stays in the pile, but you're going to have to be hard-nosed about it unless you drive a tractor-trailer to work.  Try to keep it down to food/water/water purification, shelter, rain gear, minimum clothing (but enough clothing for all possibilities), enough food, a very basic medical kit, sleeping gear and the following items that I do not believe are optional:
  • A small pair of binoculars
  • Two small LED flashlights that use the same battery type and spare batteries
  • The smallest AM or AM/FM radio you can find, preferably one that uses the same batteries as the flashlights
  • Maps that cover your area and a good compass, plus a backup compass (can be a button compass, but have a backup)
  • A small bag that will attach to your belt and hold one of your flashlights, some spare batteries, a couple of space blankets, 25' of paracord, and good knife or better a multitool, matches in a match safe, a lighter, a 55 gallon trash bag and your spare compass
  • A pistol, holster, spare magazines and spare ammo
We're getting ahead of ourselves, but time for a Pro Tip:  The pistol, spare mags and the small bag stay on your person at all times when you are on your way home.  Period.  If you get separated from your main bag, you still have a chance.  It won't be fun, but you have a chance.

Some people will also feel the urgent need to add a two-way radio of some sort.  I don't recommend it as I feel it's wasted weight, but if you feel it's worth it, you're the one humping the weight, not me.

So, you have all this stuff in your vehicle, taking up half the trunk.  You wag it around, you have to pull it out to vacuum the trunk and you have to pull it out to inspect it every so often.  You have to replace some items, such as food, periodically.  It's a pain.

And one day at work, the Giant Meteor shows up.



Intelligent you, rather than wait around for someone to say "Go!", you make the executive decision to bail.  Out to the parking lot, into your vehicle, out onto the road and in 15 minutes you find yourself in another parking lot because a trucker has jackknifed his big rig trying to miss some panicked fool who cut him off.  Great.  Now you and everyone who was behind Mr. Panicked Fool are stuck.  AAA is nowhere in sight, neither are the state troopers.

But you are prepared.  Time to saddle up and take a walk.  You already have your pistol on, right?  Be sure it's concealed, because there is no sense adding to the building panic.  Be calm, act calm if you can't be calm, get out and go to the trunk.  Pop it open and grab that empty ruck.  Next to it is that bag with the binoculars and so on.  Put it on your belt.  Try to keep an eye on what is going on around you, because you'll probably attract attention.  From all the gear you have, select the things you need based on where you are, the time of year and how far you're going to be walking.  Get it in the bag or attached to the bag and don't worry about neat for now.  Get the bag on, slam the trunk and leave.  You can find a quieter place to pack the bag properly in a little while.  For now, you just need to leave the milling herd behind.  You have miles to walk before you sleep.  In your shelter, in your sleeping gear, after you have eaten a reasonably decent meal.  You're way ahead of the herd, and you'll be home in a day or two.  Heck, your cell phone even worked for a while, and you were able to text the wife and kids, confirm they were OK, that they were at home or close and let them know what your situation was.

You, my friend were prepared.  Congratulations.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Musing on my father

I'm not sure you ever get over the deaths of your parents.  I'm not even sure you ever get fully past them.  At odd times, something pops up and takes you back to where the missing them isn't quite the knife twisting in your gut--it's just the moment the knife is stuck in.

I had another of those tonight.  My Dad has been gone nearly 6 years now.  There are still some boxes of stuff from his house that I haven't went through, and things of his that I have went through and decided to keep, but that still bear the indelible stamp of him.  I don't think they will ever be mine, really.  They'll be his, I'm just borrowing them.

My Dad was a land surveyor, licensed to practice in several states in the Southeast.  He was, if I may say so, damn good at his job.  In my younger days, I did some surveying, acting as a rodman for a couple of local surveyors as well as my Dad.  Without going into how you determine such things, my Dad's surveys were always of much higher quality than the other guys.  Theirs were good, more than good enough, but his were better--better researched, tighter, more professionally drawn.  On the few occasions he had to defend a survey in court, his surveys always stood up.

I have a number of his old field books.  Field books are small notebooks, about 8" x 5", that use 6 rings to hold the paper.  They're a specialty item, and getting hard to find, even in the stores that cater to surveyors and engineers.  They are the best notebook in the world.  Small enough to be handy, big enough to be useful.  There are new ones, bound like an over-size exam book, but they're not as good.  The loose leaf paper in the older ones can be removed, re-ordered, replaced--whatever you need to do.  Dad left me 6 of them and probably a thousand sheets of paper--likely a lifetime's supply.

All save two are simply filled with blank paper.  It's the two that aren't that really got to me.  The first, an over-size, very thick field book, is filled from cover to cover in notes and sample problems he used to pass the various state licensures.  All in his neat, practiced draftsman's hand, the slightly yellowed paper holds data and information as undecipherable to me as my IT jargon and knowledge was to him.

The other held the gas mileage records for his pickup truck.  From when he purchased it in 1996, with 13 miles on it, until 2008 when he inexplicably stopped keeping the records (perhaps it was too much trouble, considering by then he almost never drove), I could look at it and slowly watch my father age all over again.  The early entries were in that practiced draftsman's hand, so neat and precise.  As the years went by, the neatness started to deteriorate, the bold lines of the numbers wavering, until at the end they only barely resembled the 1996 entries.

I've removed those pages and they'll be consigned to the flames the next time we have a fire.  I can't forget the memory, but I won't have to see it again.

When my Dad died, I knew there was something more bothering me than the simple fact he was gone.  It was more than the reminder of my own mortality.  It took a while, but I finally figured it out.  It meant that, for good or ill, I was now the family patriarch.  Before, if I had a problem, if I needed help, I could always call my Dad.  He was my backstop.  Now, there was no one to call.  The duty is now mine--I'm the backstop.  If my kids need help, if I need help, I'm it.  If I can't figure it out, then I get to bear the consequences.  There is no help out there, no cavalry coming over the hill at the last minute.  If I want a happy ending, then I darn well better make it.

Even at 50 years old, that was a frightening realization.

Over the last few years, I've grown into it.  It's changed the way I look at things, the way I approach decisions.  My willingness to accept almost stupidly high levels of risk in certain decisions has pretty much evaporated.  I take more time reaching decisions.  I'm a little (Mrs. Freeholder would say very little) calmer now and not as quick to anger.

But tonight, none of that matters.  The family patriarch misses his Dad all over again.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The unintended consequences of gun laws, part n

We gunnies know that anti-gun laws have all sorts of unintended consequences.  Here's a new one--laws that restrict temporary gun transfers may increase suicide rates.

Yeah, that's not good.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Product Review: Datrex Emergency Rations

Time to get off the election thing and back to the real world.  Just because we have Hillary bottled up somewhere doesn't mean the rainbow farting unicorns are going to show up and make life grand.

Until recently, I spent the last 22 years working over 30 miles from home.  Being an old fart with some health problems, I knew that if an emergency occurred and something either had me stuck on the road or worse yet, on foot trying to get home, that there was no way I could make it in a day.  Once upon a time perhaps, but no way now.  I also knew that I would be limited in the amount of gear I'd be able to carry if on foot.

I carried a large "get home bag" in my vehicle.  (I thought I had done a post on that and my philosophy of it, but if I have I can't find it, so I guess there's an idea for a future post.)  Among the items in it were Datrex Emergency Rations.

Also known as lifeboat rations, the big selling points for these are their nutrient density for their size and weight and their incredible shelf stability.  Datrex quotes a shelf life of "a minimum of 5 years in even the harshest of environments."

Oh really?

Six years ago, the two packages of rations you see above went into the get home bag.  As you can see on the photo to the left, these were produced 06/10 and had a use by date of 06/15.  I rotated them out for fresh rations in September, 2015.  By that time they had spent 5 years being be-bopped around several states in the back of my vehicle, in temperatures from sub-zero to whatever amazing oven a closed car in the sun can becomes on a 105o day in North Carolina.

After that, they got to spend a year in my basement, where the temperatures ranged from 580to 78o and the humidity is held to maximum 50% by a dehumidifier.  Then one fine day recently Son and I opened them up and sampled a couple.

I thought they were quite good.  However, I'm notoriously not picky about my food.  I'd say they tasted like a coconut cookie.  These were rather crumbly in texture, and while I can't say whether that is their normal condition or a result of the storage conditions, other reviewers have noted the same, so I guess that's how they're supposed to be.

They are dry, as in bone dry.  You will have to have a good supply of drinking water if you plan on using these as your food source, because you're getting next to no moisture from them.  I suspect that eating these versus some more "normal" sort of food will increase the amount of water you'll need to drink.

A package of rations weighs 2 pounds, and contains 18 bars of 200 calories each for a total of 3600 calories.  Given the amount of energy you would be putting out walking home this would probably be 2 days worth of "food" unless you plan on being a little hungry, in which case I think you could stretch it to four.  I had planned on supplementing mine with items that I normally kept in my desk for those days I got stuck at lunch, which would have given me between 3-5 more meals of 400-600 calories.  My plan was for a 4 day trip home.  Since I'm packing some extra weight, a little calorie deficit wasn't going to hurt me for a few days.

Son did not care for the taste, and I suspect anyone who doesn't care for coconut will not.  The rations are flavored strongly of coconut and I see no way that could be hidden.  He wasn't much on the texture either.  I suspect real hunger would overcome both objections quickly enough.

While I don't suggest relying on these long term, at the current price on Datrex's web site of $139/case (or $129/case if bought by the 70 case pallet), they could be something you might add to your preps for those occasions when a fast, no time to cook, eat it on the go snack or meal was necessary.  I can see them as trail rations for scouting parties, for example.  While they are rated for a minimum of 5 years in storage, I expect my basement storage conditions could easily double that.  If you are in the mind of providing charity for neighbors or unexpected guests in a true TEOTWAWKI situation, these would be an easy, compact if expensive way to provide them with a day or two worth of food in a compact, easy to hand out package.

If this were a few months ago, I'd order a case to drop in my own preps, but the recent job loss means that we are being more careful with the money these days.  I still may, but it will have to be a more considered purchase,  Right now, other things are further up on the list things to buy.

To sum it up, these are a highly shelf stable, relatively palatable, light weight, compact way to carry or store a lot of calories.  While I don't suggest these as an entire food store, I think they do have a place, but only after you have built your food preps up the old-fashioned way.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Why, yes. Yes I am.

Yes, I'm enjoying Donald Trump's victory.  I deliberately decided to (mostly) stay away from politics this cycle, but I've been a Trump supporter for a while out here in the real world.  How can you not like a guy who knows how to make money, who says what he believes without fear and who does good for others and seeks no publicity for it?

So yeah, I'm enjoying his victory and watching the other side have a very public meltdown.  The longer they squirm, squeal and wet themselves, the more I enjoy it.  It's a character flaw.  :-)

So expect to see some gloating for a while.  And expect me to raise hell when I think he is screwing up.

But for now, I'm gloating.



 And no, I'm not offended by the glow-in-the-dark shirt. I think it's kinda cool. I can still gloat when the lights go out.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heh. Maybe even double Heh.

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

While the Extra Loopy Liberal side of the street is having a screeching meltdown because the adults took away the car keys, most folks on our side of the street are busy acting civilized.

Like I said, most folks on our side of the street are busy acting civilized.  Over at Town Hall, Kurt Schlichter is busy jumping up and down, flipping off everyone on that side of the street, all while jeering and hooting at them.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

So...How was everyone's day?

I promised myself that on Election Day, I wouldn't watch the news until late evening.  There was no possible way they had any useful facts to air, and all their suppositions and "polls" are usually worthless anyway.

So I went about my day and that evening went out to a meeting of some ham radio types.  I got home around 9:40.  I then proceeded to stay up until 2 AM, watching the election returns on various channels.  I watched the Trump win slowly form, but I finally had to go to bed.  I knew the momentum was on his side, but that the deal wasn't sealed.  I woke up around 3:30 or so and checked my phone.  FoxNews had called it for Trump.  I rolled over and slept the sleep of a satisfied man until 8:15.

At which point I woke up and texted the Mountain Man.  "Happy Victory in DC Day.  How are we celebrating?"

Back came the answer.  "Be here by lunch.  Bring a pistol or 3.  Shooting inside.  And I have a machine gun reserved.  You're welcome."

So we spent the afternoon turning money into noise.  I got to shoot a subgun with someone's else's ammo.  You've never seen wider smiles than the bunch of men at that gun store.  Nothing was going to tarnish the moment.  Victory was sweet.

More deeply, we all understood that the republic had just dodged a bullet.  For all those of you who voted to help us dodge that bullet, please accept my gratitude.  If any of my readers happen to have voted for one of the other candidates, rest assured I'm not gloating.  Donald Trump wasn't my first choice for president, but he was the choice we were offered.  I honestly don't think he is going to be 1% as bad as all the Internet butthurt I've seen today is predicting for our future.  At worst, I expect him to be about average.  I think there is some chance he may actually wind up being above average, but we'll have to see how it shapes up.

Prepare yourselves for a wild ride.


Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Go vote

(This post should have magically posted itself at midnight but didn't.  Another Blogger herp.)

Today is Election day (in the United States).  If you're an eligible voter and you haven't already availed yourself of the franchise, get out there and vote.  I'm not going to say I don't care who you vote for, because I care very much, but I'm not going to start hectoring you at this late date.  You know that I am a gunny and that I'm going to vote to protect my guns and your guns, first, last and always.  Figure it out if you feel like it.

What I am telling you is that it's important that you do go vote.  Other people are hoping you won't.  They're planning on your lack of carry through.  Fool them.  Vote like the future of the Republic depends on it.

Because it very likely does.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Economic mobility and why it's desperately important

(Yes, I said almost two weeks ago "in a day or two".  I plead excellent fall weather.  There's nothing like making hay while the sun shines.)

Before reading this, you're going to want to read Dr. Frank Buckley's excellent piece "Restoring America's Economic Mobility" on Hilldale College's Imprimis site.  It's a fast, easy read, and I'll wait right here for you.  Besides, I have a bowl of ice cream to eat.

Elsewhere on this blog I've described my parents' upbringing during the Great Depression.  One thing I didn't mention was their parents and grandparents.  I can't speak to my mother's family, they are pretty much a mystery to their descendants.  We don't know why our parents/grandparents never spoke of them.  All I know is that my Grandma left home at 13 and never, ever looked back.

My father's family is much better known to me.  My great-grandfather (obviously, his grandfather), was a subsistence farmer who raised something like 13 kids in a house that looks like what I, being from North Carolina, would call a tobacco barn.  His children ran the gamut from a US Army General (so I'm told) to a railroad conductor (my grandfather), various sorts of factory workers (my great-uncles) and several beauticians (my great-aunts).   All of them lived a life that was far and away much richer in what we would call consumer goods and "comforts" than their father.  They all moved to one town or another, lived in houses with indoor plumbing and electricity, owned an automobile (or two or three) and in general ranged from what we would now call upper-lower class to middle class.  They did this well within the lifetime of their parents, and did it while the Great Depression was going on.  Let that one sink in a minute.  During the worst economic times in their history, they climbed out of what can only be defined as grinding poverty and bootstrapped themselves up the ladder to comfort and security.

My parents found themselves in a position in one of those towns where things were winding down economically.  They were smart enough to "git while the gittin's good".  They sold of what they had and moved to North Carolina, arriving with $20 in their pockets and the willingness to work.  An uncle put them up for a while (as he did with any number of family members who made that same trip south) while they got their feet under them.  Eventually my parents worked their way up the ladder as well.  Before their deaths, they too did better than their parents to a significant degree.

I was, eventually, smart enough to build on that foundation.  Even though I was told that I was too "poor" to afford it, and the guidance councilors in high school though a kid from the wrong side of the tracks ought to just give up thoughts of college and go get a job in a factory, and while it took me 11 years to do it, I wound up with a BS degree--the first college graduate in my family as far as anyone knows.  Over the years, I've leveraged that, the work ethic that my parents and grandparents pretty much beat into me and (as my one-time cardiac doc put it) a Type A Personality From Hell and bulldozed my way through the ranks of Information Technology almost to the top.  I never made Chief Information Officer, but I made Director of IT.  And I'm just stubborn enough I may take another swing at it yet.  :-)

But my kids?  Danged if I know where they will wind up, and that is exactly what Dr. Buckley is addressing.  One of the undying tenets of what we have all thought of as "The American Dream" is that if you worked hard and played by the rules, you could do at least as well as your parents and probably better.  But that isn't happening now.  My daughter has had the benefit of a BA in Business and a Masters in a financial discipline (sorry, that's as specific as I can be without compromising OPSEC), both from good private universities, and has yet to get a full time job in her chosen field.  She's willing to relocate to pretty much anywhere that isn't one of the neo-socialist states and has the money to do so, and she can't buy a job.  She's working part-time in retail.

My son will soon finish up an Associates in Welding.  He isn't interested in white collar work, and frankly, given his observations of his sister's luck with higher education, who can blame him?  Besides, he has a talent for the work.  I may be white collar, but I grew up blue collar and I know what good welding looks like.  He's better than a lot of guys I used to work with that had been welding for years.  He could also drop into a machinist's role with a little more work if that interested him.  If it's anything to do with metal working, it's interesting to him.  Fortunately for him, it's a trade that pays well--or it has.

A year ago, he was being courted by local operations of Caterpillar and Deere-Hitachi.  All he had to do was finish school and show up with that degree and he had a job.  Now, both of them are laying off people as quickly as they can.  He has talked to a number of local fabrication operations, and he thinks he will be able to get on with one of them, at about 2/3 of what he would have earned with one of the big guys.  I've done some mental math, and if he moves out, it's inevitable he will fall from the middle class lifestyle that's all he's ever known to a lower class lifestyle.  I'm not sure how he'll handle that situation.

It's not just my kids.  You may remember my last employer was an "institution of higher education".  I watched us churn out hundreds of students with degrees that either weren't in demand (sports management, religious music and the like) or degrees that were in demand, such as education, but that don't pay enough that the kids would be able to live on their own and be able to pay their living expenses plus the loans they had saddled themselves with to pay for those degrees.  These kids are going to be making house-payment sized school loan payments for years.  Don't tell me that won't effect their attitudes and their buying patterns.

This isn't something new.  At the employer before that, we had a large number of employees who had degrees in biology and zoology and thought they were all going out and save the world.  They found out that saving the world paid just enough that they had to gang up in threes and fours and rent an apartment or a house together, work second jobs and even then had to live like church mice.  The disillusion was a palpable force, and many of them eventually decided that the damn world could save itself.  They left and got "real" jobs--this was back before 2007 when there was something that acted like a functioning economy.

We keep hearing about the Millennials, and they've become the butt of a lot of jokes about "failure to launch".  Yes, a lot of them are special hipster snowflakes, but a lot of them aren't.  I suspect many of the special hipster snowflakes won't stay that way forever--most generations don't stay in their stereotypes their entire lives (mostly).  The hippies didn't, Gen X and Gen Y haven't, and I doubt the Millennials do either.  But they're facing something that none of the other generations have--an economy where not only will they likely do worse than their parents, but one where they and their offspring may well be locked into a lower socio-economic level for some unknowable number of generations to come.  What will happen when Generation Millennial grows up and finds out that there is no pie left for them?

We know that there are a lot of things happening that are turning America (and I'm differentiating from the United States here) into something different than what we've all believed in our hearts it was.  Yes, I'm an adult and I know that a lot of what I believed was best categorized as "the myth of America", but societies need their myths.  That myth, that Horatio Alger story of the poor kid who worked hard and grew up to become a millionaire, was central to who we are.  It was the story of my grandparents, my parents and me.  (Well, leave out the millionaire part.)  It was supposed to be my kids' story, but it's looking like that isn't going to happen, or if it does, it's going to be drastically delayed.

What happens to societies that lose their myths, their central, core beliefs that define themselves to themselves?  Looking at history, the answer appears to be "Nothing good".  We can already see it in the here and now.  Look at the level of open corruption in our government.  View the mainstream media's open cooperation with those with whom they would curry favor.  Look at the wedge that some politicians are driving between citizens and the civil services that are put in place to serve them, solely for political gain.  Look at the ever ratcheting up "us vs. them" typified by Black Lives Matter and every law enforcement agency in the country that those actions cause.  The center is starting to break down.  It doesn't have to totally break down before it ceases to hold.

We've brought this on ourselves.  I can remember hearing explanations that the crime problems in the so-called inner cities were driven in large part by a "lack of hope".  People who lived there didn't think things could get any better for them, and so they simply did whatever they had to do to grab some bit of "the good life".  If that is in any part true, consider what may come when an entire generation, cities and suburbs alike, finds out there is no hope.

If we fail to restore our country's economic viability we are not only condemning our children and grandchildren to poverty and penury, but ourselves as well.  We, the Baby Boomers, will not be allowed to sit on our fat defined benefit pensions, big Social Security checks and 401(k)s once the Millennials have assumed political control of the country, which they will do long before we die off.  A lot of them act like fools now, but they won't be doing that forever.  If Dr. Buckley is correct, we will see a Marxist United States in our lifetime, with the only question being will it be a left-wing or right-wing Marxist state.  Either will be sufficient to remove those benefits from us.

That isn't what I want my kids or anyone's kids to be forced into.  I want those kids to have to go out there and struggle, but I want it to be a fight they can win.  I'm going to allow John Wayne, in the character of George Washington McLintock, explain it.  Sorry for the video quality, but it's the audio that counts.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Here's a little something to keep you up nights

America descending into a Marxist state.  Yeah, that's like an all meat pizza at 12:30 AM, minus the heartburn.  You still going to stay up, though, trying to figure out a way to keep it from happening.

This is something that, while difficult to read, you need to read and then consider.  I didn't want to, but as a long-time political semi-junkie, something like this is click bait for me.  Considering it came from John Mauldin, who my frequent visitors know I carry in high regard, that carried a little extra push to click.  Mauldin is no one's fool, and he has been thinking and writing on this subject for some time now.

This is the link for it on Mauldin's Outside the Box site, this is the link for it on Hillsdale College's Imprimis site.  I wanted you to have those two links, because I wanted to encourage you to look around both sites.  Consider signing up for both.  They're excellent resources.

In the next day or two, I'm going to take Dr. Buckley's piece and apply it to my and my family's current situation, just so you can see how this works out in the real world.  I suspect many of you have seen it first hand, but I want this out there for those who haven't seen it.  It's very instructional when you haven't.  I have a friend who has said that if you have a job (and by that he means a job that is paying an upper 5-figure or better salary plus benefits) you're OK, but if you don't, you're screwed.  I'd like to demonstrate just how that statement works in practice, and how you can arrange thing to be sure "practice" doesn't happen to you.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My Google-fu is weak today

I'm looking for a copy of the original Saturday Night Live opening theme by the Saturday Night Live Band, the one from the 70s or early 80s--you know, back when it was actually funny.  I've found one as an mp3 that's around 1:30, but I'm looking for a full version if one exists.  I'd be happy to pay for it, but it doesn't seem to exist.  Pointers?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

I am happy to announce

That the entire blogroll and all the pieces thereof has been restored, reorganized, dead wood pruned and all that.  Thanks for the patience.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Still at it

I've been working on things around the house lately, a part of the "new normal" for my no-so-old retired self.  Some of it has been taking advantage of the rain that came along with Hurricane Matthew.  What has brought so much misery for those down east in my state and in my favorite coastal areas in South Carolina did us considerable good.  It had been rather dry here, and the rain was welcome.  Flooding was pretty much minimal and few trees came down in the winds where the gusts were in the 30-35 MPH neighborhood.  Heck, the power didn't even flicker.  So I've been burning brush while everything is wet.  Today, after this is done, I'm going to be rebuilding the brush piles for another round.

Tonight I hope to finish rebuilding the links on the left side of the blog.  The rest of the week will be devoted to non-Internet pursuits as we prepare for a trip to the mountains.  Rest and recreation is still important, even to the retired.  :-)

In the meantime, I'd like to leave you with something from Ed Head of Gunsite.  In the new normal for those of use who carry a gun, there is something you need to consider, or perhaps I should say reconsider.  I'm not going to be quite as adamant as some are in saying that you must return to a larger pistol.  My position is that it depends on where you live and where you go.  But it is something that you need to seriously consider now, and that you will need to keep revisiting in the future.  The threat isn't just your local meth head or community-based wealth redistribution worker these days.  In many locations--including places that we wouldn't have considered targets a year ago--terrorists have struck.  There is some evidence that they are going to be expanding their activities into areas that have not been their traditional target zones.

When you think about it, this is merely terrorists being more effective, modern terrorists.  I've long postulated that terrorists were being less effective than they could be in limiting their attacks to large, usually metropolitan venues where they would be guaranteed good media coverage.  That thinking is drastically out of date.  Media is everywhere today.  Nearly everyone has a smart phone and a Facebook account, and how many times have you seen idiots posting videos of events where they should have been busy running instead?

In my opinion, and I think this is the opinion of others far better informed than I, we are going to see an increasing trend of terrorist attacks in smaller, less populated areas.  While I doubt that a town of 1000 people is in danger just yet, one of 10,000 probably will be soon.  One of 500,000 is now, and one of 100,000 will be tomorrow.  Eventually, it will be the truck stop out on the interstate.

We, as people who take responsibility for our own defense and the defense of our families seriously, need to keep our thinking and our training up to date as well.  No, you will still have a hard time in court if you shoot a local community-based wealth redistribution worker at 50 yards.  That won't change.  But if you find yourself at the local strip mall and the latest terrorist cell of one has decided to go on a stabbing spree on his way to the Aloha Snackbar down at your end of the strip, I doubt even the worst anti-gun prosecutor is going to try and indict you for making a 50 yard shot to the chest to stop him in mid-mini-jihad.

Make sure you're up to the task.  Friends and I have worked on pistol shots using 12" x 12" steel as our targets at 100 yards.  It's been a while, but at one time we got fairly proficient at it, and we used iron sights and whatever we could find as a brace.  What has been done can be done again, and I suspect most if not all of my readers could learn to do the same.

Besides, when you do it with friends at the range, it's fun.  So have a little fun and prepare for the worst.  Hopefully you'll never need the latter.

Edit:  Migraine this afternoon.  Dammit.  I got the Guns and Training sections done, but I'm done in.  More tomorrow.

Sunday, October 09, 2016

Guns, the Second Amendment and what you should hear from Clinton and Trump

What John Lott has to say on the subject.

What to do as a concealed carrier if you're stopped by the police

Given yesterday's events in Palm Springs, CA, I can't help but expect that most police officers will be a little more on edge.  You can't blame them, our current national leadership has all but required them to wear targets on their chests.  When we have officers who are fearful of using their guns (and are beaten half to death) because they are more afraid of the consequences of the use of force than they are of the criminals, we have a problem.  When officers are targeted for being officers, we have a problem that is out of hand.

As concealed carriers, we're in danger of being caught in the middle.  Yes, we're statistically the most legal of the legal and all that.  It won't matter if Officer Not So Friendly Any More sees one of us do something that causes him to perceive us as a deadly threat and we catch a few rounds.  In this current climate, it's a 50-50 chance whether the officer is hung out to dry or has a medal hung around their neck.  Either way, you're probably dead.

So, in the interest of making sure this doesn't happen, here are a couple of short videos for you to view.  One is from Adam Painchaud, director at the Sig Sauer Training Academy and a cop himself.


The next is from Barney DeBrosse, an Ohio attorney.  His words are more specific to Ohio, but useful in other places as well.  Once you finish it, you need to troll through the comments.  It's worth seeing what some of our alleged fellow permit holders have to say.  My personal opinion is along the lines of "You're not helping, people," but I'm a noted asshole who thinks that you will never win trying to argue with a cop on the side of the road.


In any case, whether you take either of these gentlemen's advice or not, now would be a good time to consider how you would interact with any members of law enforcement should you have need to while carrying, which you should be doing a much as you can given the state of things.

We live in ever more interesting times.  Be smart and be ready.

Friday, October 07, 2016

And the rebuilding fun goes on. And on. And on.

Still trying to get all the links back in.  If Blogger would cooperate, they would have been finished by now, but the last two attempts have resulted in all the work done being, wait for it...

Lost.

Yep.  I'm even using Google's freaking browser, Chrome, and their blogging software keeps crapping the bed and losing my work.  This evening's was particularly frustrating.  I've had to revert to some seriously old-fashioned ways of doing things, such as saving my work every 10 minutes.  Three times in a row, after 10-12 link entries, I hit "Save" and am rewarded with the "Saving..." balloon...and there we sit, waiting and waiting, until I simply give up and cancel, work lost.

This is something I do for fun and relaxation, and it's rapidly ceasing to be either.  I'm going to clear the decks, so to speak and give this another try tonight.  One more malfunction and it can sit here until I decide that I have nothing better to do, like root canals or colonosocopys, before I try it again.

Edit, later in the evening:  On a happier note, I've managed to get the Blogroll in along with part of the Guns links.  I've also disabled the CAPTCHAs and changed the font size for posts etc. from 12 to 16 pt and made it bold.  Improvement or not?  My main concern is making the page so big that people wind up having to scroll horizontally.  For me, that is something that will have me clicking the back button in a heartbeat, so I don't want that happening.  I run a high-def monitor, so I have to rely on others to tell me if I "get out of line".

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

We are experiencing technical difficulties

It seems Blogger has managed to lose the Blogroll and every other link on the left side.  Please stand by.

Update One:  It seems that Google doesn't believe in backups, at least for free services.  I should have backed the damn thing up myself.  At least the Wayback Machine has a fairly recent snapshot, so I can rebuild the missing content.  The question is, do I want to?  I have considered closing up shop.  I've also considered moving to another platform.  With the recent reduction in income, it would have to be free.  Time for the One Minute Analyst to have a go at this.

Update Two:  Having some play with WordPress.  It has some interesting features, but lacks some things I like in Blogger.  I would have to move the blog over and would still have to recreate the blogroll, etc.  Available templates are much more pleasing to the eye.  Not too sure I like the compromise, though.

Update Three:  Killed the WordPress site.  Couldn't make it work for me except in IE.  Not happening on my computer, thanks all the same.

Update Four:  After some experimentation (I hope not too many people saw some of that, it was...weird) I have a template I like better than the old one.  I have the width set to 1500 pixels, which may be rather wide for some people.  I'm going to start repopulating the various link sections a bit at a time as I feel like typing like a data entry clerk.

Feedback is welcome.  Really.  I need feedback on color choices and page/element widths especially.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Way to go, people!

(Via the Drudge Report)

According to the Washington Examiner, "A total of 1,992,219 background checks were processed through the bureau's National Instant Criminal Background Check System for the month of September, higher than the 1,795,102 conducted in September 2015."

Outstanding work.  Simply outstanding.  That's how to keep your fellow Americans in the firearms industry productive!

Well this would never work

You know, I would consider supporting a "Draft John Mauldin For President" campaign, but the man is obviously too intelligent to get tangled up in such things.  His latest effort, "Start Moving Some Dirt", is a supporting document.

Face it, how often has a candidate for President told you not only what Big Thing he wants to do, but provided you with the funding model (including the math) and laid out his case for how it will benefit all sides without regard to their politics?

But as I said, he's far too intelligent to get drafted for anything as idiotic as running for President of the United States.  More's the pity, because we could use around a thousand equally intelligent men and women in Washington, DC in positions of power about now.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

As Charlotte burns

We almost made it through the summer without the predicted "long, hot summer of discontent" coming to pass. Almost.  The last couple of weeks...well, just dammit.  Now it's come home to roost in North Carolina.

I'm listening to the Charlotte/Mecklenburg PD feed on my smartphone scanner app.  Yes, using 21st Century technology to listen in on one of the oldest entertainments of the human race--rioting and looting.  This time a member of a local constabulary (who just happened to be black) shot a black man, possibly for the wrong reason, and predictably, the masses have decided to protest by breaking windows and at last count, looting a drug store, the Epicenter entertainment complex and the Carolina Panthers Stadium (heard it on the scanner, bet that one doesn't get any media play).  Reports of  "man with a gun" have gotten so prolific that it's not worth the effort to keep up with them, as have the reports of "shots fired".  Tear gas has been used.  Medic, the Charlotte/Mecklenburg EMT service, is running the wheels off its units.

I would not want to be in Charlotte tonight.  I am thankful that Daughter graduated from her university there several years ago and is safely ensconced one room over from where I write this.  I am grateful for the comforting weight of the pistol on my hip, even though I'm 70 miles away.  No, it isn't a magic talisman, but it sure is a comfort item right now.

The Perversity Factor of the universe is high tonight.  We just heard several loud explosions from the direction of the local high school.  That is also the direction of one of the local electrical substations, and it's awfully dark up that way.  I'm torn between a quick recon and hunkering down right where I am.  Hunkering down feels smarter.  I'll go with that.

I believe I need to reprogram a scanner tomorrow with some local utility frequencies, though.

Now the call has come in over the scanner--the arson is starting.  Small scale stuff, fires in trash cans.  That won't last long.  It's after 10 PM and the witching hour fast approaches.  The Carolina Bobcats arena has apparently been hit and now some roads are being blocked.  The police still sound calm and collected--not a sing of panic in anyone's voice, which bodes well.  I suspect there are very few CMPD officers not on duty tonight.  I hope that they can stay safe as they try to keep some semblance of the peace.

City transit has now been shut down, incoming and outgoing.  More fires, this time outside a large hotel--the one we stayed in for Daughter's graduation.  For tragi-comic relief, a call about two black females selling marijuana and Ecstasy pills in the riot zone.

We live in Heinlein's Crazy Years, the years of the Fourth Turning.  Others opine that we are at the point where the "War Cycle", one I'm not familiar with, is due to heat up soon.  They say it will start in North Korea, but tonight if feels like it's North Carolina.

Now officers are meeting a hail of thrown rocks, and a garbled report of a unit "stuck" somewhere.  A wreck with entrapment.  Walmart is closing and workers request rides/escorts home.  I'm encouraged to hear some calls being cleared.

It occurs to me to check the traffic cameras--Charlotte is lousy with the things.  The Interstates--85, 77, 485--are unbelievably empty, just a few cars where there should still be hundreds at this hour.  It seems that people are sticking close to home.  I wonder if travelers have gotten the word that Charlotte is a mini-war zone and have detoured or simply stopped and are waiting for daylight to make a run for it?

Trying to check other local places, the Charlotte Douglas Airport web server is down.  Interesting.  None of the local colleges or universities have anything on their web sites.  Their Twitter feeds have some things, mostly from various individuals venting.

It's now 11 PM and it doesn't seem to be slowing down as far as the volume of calls, but the seriousness of the calls seems to be easing up.  This is the first good sign so far.  Another good sign is that the individual reported dead is now being reported still alive, but in critical condition.  The opportunistic criminals are beginning to take advantage of the PD's near total involvement downtown and are beginning to commit crimes such as armed robbery elsewhere in the city (something else I bet the media won't tell you).

Here's a report of several individuals threatening to go downtown and "fix the protesters".  Great Bleeding Ghu, Bubba, put down your beer and think that one through again.  Isn't there enough trouble without you and your buddies aggravating things?

Maybe not.  There is a report of a large-ish group of motorcycles back by cars moving into downtown.  No mention who is driving.  Please, not another Klan-Nazi shootout.

Good grief, now we have an "armed to the terror of the public" call.  We're using a Jim Crow law to go after black rioters.  Jesus wept.

Things were starting to heat back up and bingo, it got quiet.  Scanner app could not connect.  Checked Broadcastify, they show their feed down by request of the CMPD.  I've also tried another scanner app with no luck.  So now it's a black hole down there as we get to rely on the media for word of what's going on.  I'm sure that's going to work well.

It's going to be a long night for Charlotte.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Alert! One of the Seven Seals has been broken!

I have managed to purchase .22 LR ammo at a Walmart without any extra jumping through hoops such as knowing someone, arriving at some special time or any of those sorts of things.

Sorry, it was the last box.  It won't do any good to tell you where I got 350 rounds for $18.

Heck, maybe this being retired thing won't be so bad after all.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Catching up on range time

I will say one thing for being involuntarily retired--you have time to catch up on things that you don't have time to do when you're busy being a wage slave, as long as they either don't cost a lot of money or they use items or supplies previously purchased.  Today we made use of items in the later category.

A few weeks ago Son and I had ventured forth to the Greensboro Gun Show.  Son was looking for his first pistol to go with his shiny new Concealed Carry License.  He had been looking for some time and had his eye on the Sig P938 BRG while I was looking for nothing in particular.  He was able to find his pistol without too much trouble at one of my two go-to dealers for such things.  (Yes, that's why they are my go-to dealers.)

In my case, as usual when you aren't looking for anything in particular, things sort of follow you home.  (This is why I won't be going to gun shows for a while.)  In this case it was a Ruger LC9S Pro with a Crimson Trace Laser Guard.  Mrs. Freeholder is both recoil sensitive and doesn't care for heavy pistols, a recipe for difficult buying.  And yes, I perfectly aware that one shouldn't buy a pistol for one's spouse without their being around to handle it.  Not an issue here, as I figured I'd be perfectly happy to use it myself if she doesn't care for it.

I also ran into a friend from my range who was selling off some guns.  He is recently retired and his wife has decreed that some of his collection must go.  So I picked up a nice unfired Smith and Wesson 642 CT.  This is the fully shrouded hammer lightweight J-frame .38 Special +P.  My fourth J-frame; the things are like potato chips to me.  I love 'em.

So today it was time to head to the range and try all of these guys out.  Son started with his P938.  I love the boy, but he has some serious bad habits to unlearn.  Between recoil anticipation and jerking/snatching the trigger, he shoots patterns, not groups.  The gun, however, can deliver groups, so we know the gun is OK.  We had one problem with a single magazine failing to feed Federal Hydra-shok ammo when filled to its 7 round capacity.  Other than that, the gun shot fine, not one problem.  I did not shoot it, so I can't testify to it's shooting characteristics.  I can say that while we are both not working, we are going to start spending some quality time at the range with .22s and work on those problems.  They have got to go.

I first tried the LC9S, and was rather pleasantly surprised.  I've read the reviews, and honestly, I really didn't think a gun at this price point was going to be all that great.  I was wrong.  It is a very nice, relatively soft-shooting pistol when you consider it's size and weight and the round it was firing (115 gr ball and 124 gr Federal Hydra Shoks).  At no time did it feel overly difficult to control.  I've shot a number of the small 9s, and some of them can be a little lively--not the sort of gun I would recommend for a newer shooter.  The little Ruger, on the other hand, I would feel comfortable putting in the hands of a shooter with less experience.  With a few tips on recoil control I believe a newish shooter would find themselves shooting accurately very quickly...

Assuming they can master those God-awful sights.  For crying out loud, couldn't we pay an extra $25 or something and get some decent sights on this gun?  I understand that we want a low profile sight because this is meant to be a carry gun, but even with the laser, I want usable sights, and these ain't them.  I'm looking for replacements, and I looks like I'm going to be at a minimum $100 for a decent set of sights and the necessary tools to install them.  Ruger, fix these sights.

My second gun was the Smith 642.  Loading it with some PMC brass-cased .38 Special, My first round was slightly to the right of the 2" black dot I was aiming for and elicited shout of "Ho-lee shit!"  As the real gun writers would say, recoil is quite lively.  At slightly less than 1 pound, the 642 simply has no mass to suck up the recoil of even standard .38 Special.

This doesn't mean the gun is uncontrollable.  You simply have to get a good grip, similar to the one you might use on a 14' rattler that you were holding just behind the head while it was trying to get free to bite you.  I'm exaggerating, of course, but you do have to get a very good grip and put all your recoil control skills to work if you plan on shooting this gun quickly with any acceptable level of accuracy.  After 3 cylinders or so, I had it figured out and was shooting an acceptable group at 15 yards.  More practice would of course yield better results.

We had a wonderful Sunday afternoon.  Even though it was still quite warm, you can tell that autumn will be here soon.  Some of the trees are already starting to show the very first signs of their summer green fading a bit, and the hickories were dropping nuts already.  Someone at the range cleanup day had piled firewood at several of the burn barrels in preparation for the cooler months.

Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.  I love the colors and the smells and I enjoy the work that comes with it, putting gardens to bed, splitting and hauling firewood and all the rest.  I have to admit that as I enter my own personal autumn, it takes on a bit more bittersweet flavor than it had 20 years ago.  But still, it's my favorite time of year, and being able to enjoy an early autumn afternoon at the range with my son is one of those things that will help me me warm when the inevitable winter comes.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Networking

As someone who has been involved at some level or another in survivalism, or it's most recent incarnation, prepping, since the 70s, I've seen a lot of things come and go.  In the 70s, we had a lot of lone wolf types who were going to go down in their bunker, pull the hole in after them and wait for The End of The World to be over, after which they would emerge, ready to be one of the few who would put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

Uh-huh.

These days, we see a lot more intelligence applied to the subject.  While many still primarily prepare for the doomsday scenario, far more are preparing for things far less serious but far more likely to occur, such as hurricanes, ice storms and, as has happened to me recently, job loss.

Something that quickly occurred to many people in the 70s is that the Lone Wolf or Wolf Pack (a small number of people hunkered down in that same bunker) is too few people to perform all the tasks needed to ensure the group's long term survival.  A small group of 3, 6 or even 12 people will be hard pressed to till, plant and harvest enough food, provide adequate security and have the breadth of skills necessary in a long term survival scenario.  (We'll leave out the genetic concerns of inbreeding.)

Around Y2K, talk turned to building intentional communities of like-minded individuals, big enough to provide the critical mass of bodies and skills that would be necessary after the turn of the millennium brought all the computers to their collective electronic knees and civilization collapsed.  Fortunately for all of you, people like me busted our butts for several years, and the real damage done was slight and easily dealt with for the most part.  I will admit that I found getting emails on the morning of Jan. 2 dating from 1969 to be a bit humorous, though.

Today, it appears that we have moved away from the intentional communities (at least for the most part, there are still a number of them out there and going strong, such as Rawles' Redoubt in the northwest US) and toward more individual/family-oriented prepping, but with a twist.  With the rise of the Internet, it has become almost foolishly easy to reach out to other kindred souls and form groups.  I've seen a number of them on various prep-oriented boards, some of the as large as "Southeast" and some as narrow as a given subdivision.  I think this is probably a good thing overall, as there are probably as many different variations on prepping as there are preppers.

In my case, I had made preparations for job loss, and had started that some time ago.  I knew going into the job that my Itty-Bitty University in the Boonies had funding issues.  Helping fix that was part of why I was hired.  It was obvious over the years that things were getting worse and events beginning in the spring and continuing through the summer made it clear that I needed to be sure I and my family were positioned to survive the potential loss of my job and income.  I had carefully went over all the numbers and concluded we could do it.  There would be cut backs, but we can live without "Ooooh shiney!"

During my employment I had started doing something that you often hear mentioned as a good career move, and that we have been discussing above--networking.  I set up a LinkedIn account and started linking with co-workers, vendors, people I met at trade shows, pretty much everyone who made sense from a connection point of view.  I also made sure to carefully construct my profile to put my best foot forward.

I also "put myself out there" by participating in professional groups.  This is a bit harder than it might sound, because I'm not much of a "joiner".  But I forced myself out of my comfort zone and joined anyway.  Amazingly, I didn't die.  :-)

Then there was the issue of stopping myself from turning down opportunities to get exposure.  I've authored a couple of professional articles for some small publications in my field, started participating on various discussion boards and attending more vendor group meetings.

All of these things have their analogies in the prepping world.  Substitute Facebook (I'm sorry, but I'm not as paranoid about it as many in the prepping community are--we're already on the damn list, so get over it) for LinkedIn and you have a powerful free platform that can reach people all over the world with your message.

In place of professional groups, you can substitute groups such as a ham radio club, a volunteer fire department or something similar, where you can gain valuable skills and knowledge while making connections with people who may share some of the same concerns as you.

Instead of authoring articles for a publication, you can start a blog.  Write about the things you know.  If your contribution to the accumulated prepping body of knowledge is "just" a better way of waterproofing matches,  that is still something that is critically important.  Share the wealth.

There are a ton of prepping-oriented boards, and lot of boards that are devoted to skills that preppers like to acquire.  Participate in them.  If you have nothing useful to say, just read.  You'll be surprised what you will pick up and what others will pick up from you.

Those of you who have been hanging around here for a while know these posts are usually motivated by something that's happened to me, and this one is no exception.  Today was officially to be my last day at Itty-Bitty University.  Wednesday was actually the last day, as the new folks had finished wringing out all the information they felt they needed.  (Pity they didn't know all the right questions to ask, but that's not my fault.)

Today, I've been offered what will likely be a moderately lucrative consulting gig and I'm pretty sure I was asked to apply for a position that would be a nice step up from my old one.  That's what my network has stirred up for me, and I haven't even really tried reaching out to people in it yet.  This came from a few people in it who had heard of my situation and mentioned my name to a couple of people who might be looking for someone with my unusual set of skills.

Imagine what a well-curated network of survival-oriented contacts could do for you in a bad situation.  Start reaching out now, before you need them.  The ass you save may just be your own.

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Does this gun make me look fat?

(Via the Drudge Report)

I can't beat the original headline.  Holsters designed for women.

Gee--someone finally recognized their bodies are different and making it pink didn't actually do anything about a poor fit.

Monday, September 05, 2016

"It's a recession is when your neighbor losses his job..."

But it's a depression when you lose yours.

If you have any interest in economics, you'll recognize that joke.  It's a great joke, until it happens to you.  Yep, it's a depression here at The Freehold.  This post is part venting, part lesson.  I hope you'll find it worth reading.  

I don't often talk about my work, but I was (that's hard to type) at the top of the food chain in information technology at a small, rural private university.  As with most small, rural, private universities, we've been struggling for years with declining enrollments and a declining endowment and trying to find our way out of that hole.  Something over a year ago, we got a shiny new president and since then, there have been a lot of changes.  Almost all the C-level staff has been replaced.  Old programs that were once successful and could be again are being revitalized and new programs are on the boards.  Things are changing and changing fast.

Also for many years, IT has been drastically underfunded and understaffed.  Compared to nearby institutions, we have as little as 25% of their headcount and have been expected to handle 3 campuses in 3 cities compared to their single campuses with the same number of students.  We're behind the curve in most areas of technology and frankly, it shows.  What funding we've had has went into presentation and video conferencing technology for our classrooms and the back-end systems that keep the lights on.  Only in the last 2 years have we been able to begin updating user devices, some of which were nearly a decade old.

Happily, we were told we that this year would be getting more resources in order to meet the new needs.  We could expect old unfilled positions to be filled and new positions to be created.  IT was going to be ramped up to meet the new needs.

I was looking forward to being a part of that, but that's not going to happen.  Late Friday afternoon, the CFO trots into my office and tells me the university has hired a Chief Information Officer (something they've needed for years and a position I'm unsuited for).  In the next breath, he tells me they've also decided to outsource IT, and how this dovetails with everything I've been telling them about how this and that system needs upgrading, how we need more staff and so on.  Then I'm told there will be a position for me with the outsourcing group.

That's a lot for me to process that quickly, but if you work in IT as long as I have, you either learn to think fast or find a different career.  My first though when he said there would be a CIO was "Please God, don't let them be a dick."  When I found out who it was, I inwardly groaned, because, yep, I know him and he's a dick.  Then when I processed the outsourcing bits, I was able to fall back to something, and that's why I'm telling you all this--I want to talk to you about the value of have pre-planned scenarios in place that you can fall back on when everything goes to shit in 60 seconds.

Yes, that's how long it took him to blurt all that out--60 seconds.  I won't go into my thoughts on how he handled it, but in 60 seconds, my life turned 180o.  However, I was able to process this on my feet, not freak out and not only have answers for his questions but was also able to needle him a bit because I had already gamed out something similar to this some time ago.

Scenario-based planning, which goes by other names, such as scenario planning is a method of training that when used at a personal level, when something happens, you in effect have seen it before and you already know how to react to it.  I first heard about it in the military, but I had my first serious exposure to it in college as a business major.  Large corporations tend to be big on scenario planning.  It's long been used by athletes, who have used it in training to see themselves performing actions in their sport in the most perfect way possible.  It's being widely adopted by self-defense trainers, and with good reason.  The human brain can deal with the familiar much faster than it can the unique.

I've been using scenario planning in my personal life since before I graduated college.  I find that having scenarios already gamed out frequently puts me ahead of the crowd in many if not most situations.  It frequently helps me out and on a few occasions has really saved my bacon.

It's not a difficult process, although the scenarios can be complex.  A simple scenario would be going into a restaurant.  You're seated and you go through the following exercise in your head--Where are the exits?  Where is cover?  Can I see all the exits?  Does anyone in here now look or act squirrelly?  If the threat comes through the front door, what is my move?  It probably sounds like a lot, but once you're used to doing it, it doesn't take much time.  It becomes almost automatic, like breathing.

Also bear in mind, I'm not an expert on this and I'm offering an overly simplistic explanation of how this works.  If you've seen something before, or if you've done something before, you have, in effect, some pathways in place in your head that help make things go faster and smoother.  The beauty of it is that you don't have to physically have had the event take place in reality.  Having played it inside your head will work nearly as well as having done it in real life.  While you can practice, for example, making that perfect tee shot 280 yards down the middle of the fairway, you don't want to practice losing you job on short notice in real life, since it's pretty hard on your family.

I had worked up this particular scenario for the reasons I outlined earlier.  My employer was not having an easy time of things, and their long term survival was far from assured.  Certain recent funding issues had caused me to revisit this subject and renew this planning with a certain urgency.  So when we got to the "and there will be a place for you with the outsourcing group", I already had my answer ready.

"No, I don't think I'd like to do that."

Talk about a damper on conversation.  Apparently the CFO had not planned for this particular scenario.  This was foolish of him, since he is well aware that I'm already pulling a retirement check from my years of government service.  Time for the needling.  Why not--at this point I'm out of work soon anyway.

"But, but, but what are you going to do?" was the response after several seconds of confused silence.

"I've got at least a couple of years worth of work backlogged around my house that I haven't had time to get to because of my schedule here.  Now I'll have time to get that caught up."

At least now he's back on a script of sorts.  "No, I mean for work."

"I'll have all the work I need to keep me busy,"  I said, keeping right on needling.

"No, paying work--what will you do for paying work?"

"I can do with out it.  Did you forget I'm drawing a retirement check already?"

The look on his face said it all.  He had forgotten that little fact, and apparently he and everyone else involved expected that I would stay on because I needed the money.  I know why they need me to stay on--I'm the last technical person on staff.  I know how it all works.  While a lot is documented now (compared to nothing was documented when I came in), there is still a lot that isn't documented.

Oopsie.

The conversation tottered about a bit more, with the CFO attempting to persuade me what a great thing this was and me rocked back in my chair with my arms crossed.  I considered putting my feet up on my desk, but I figured that was a bit much.  I did manage to persuade him to not tell the rest of the staff on the day before a 3 day weekend.  (What is is with organizations and this sort of thing?  You can do it on a Monday?)  Could I go talk to the new CIO?  He was here and wanted to talk with me.  I told him sure, but that I was in the middle of something and I wanted to wrap that up first.

I was an asshole and took 20 minutes to finish 5 minutes work.  But I did eventually go up and talk with the new CIO, who apparently had been briefed that I was not going to be hanging about to have my brain picked clean..  He was, to his credit, much more straightforward in asking me to stay through the transition period, and I straightforwardly told him that wouldn't be happening.  After that, he didn't seem to be all that interested in talking to me.  Surprise.

So I left, went back to my office and by the time I gathered up a few things it was 5.  Even though I usually don't leave at 5, Friday I did.  I needed to talk to Mrs. Freeholder.

We did talk.  I went over what had transpired and we both explored our thoughts and opinions on the situation.  We talked over our financial situation, which is good.  We have long lived beneath our means, and we are nearly debt free.  We have been saving money at a significant rate.  There is enough money coming into the place to live on and probably still save some amount.  There are things that my salary paid for that we can cut out.  They were nice things, fun things, but things we don't have to have or do.  We won't be saving as much as we used to.  The budget will be stricter and more important. Predictability in expenses will again become important.

I will look for another gig, but there are unavoidable facts that must be faced.  I'm in my mid-50s in a business that values youth over experience.  We live in an area that isn't exactly overrun with opportunities for work at the level I was at.  It will be difficult for me to step back a level or two, because hiring managers will automatically expect that either I'm taking the job until I can find something better or I'm going to constantly be questioning how they're doing their job.  I can't blame them, I would think exactly the same things in their position.

Mrs. Freeholder does not wish to relocate.  This places a strict limit on the universe of available employers I can consider.  I can't go back to work for a large segment of our state government without giving up my pension checks, and I'm not willing to do that.

All that said, we were able to reach a mutually agreeable conclusion in time to go out for dinner.  I emailed the CFO and the head of HR my two weeks notice Saturday morning.

In my line of work things change, and they change fast.  If I can't find employment within 6 months, 12 at the outside, I will probably be unemployable in IT.  My career, over 27 years of work, will be over.  All the scenarios in the world don't make that bitter pill taste better, because I really would like to continue working.  Outside of the money, I actually like what I do.

There is the possibility of changing careers, but I think that unlikely given the economy.  I'll explore it, but I doubt it pans out.  At best, I expect I may find something that pays some fraction of my former job, enough to take the pressure off of the household budget and that is at least a tolerable place to spend some hours.

I knew when the new president arrived and I was cut out of the cool kids club that this probably wasn't a good thing, but after some months and no ax falling, I though perhaps I had misread the situation.  Obviously I was wrong.  However, the fact that I had made plans for this event, even though the plans were made assuming a different trigger, are what is going to make the difference between this situation being a big disappointment and it being a catastrophe.

I can live with disappointment.  Catastrophe, probably not so much.

Got plans?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Free as in beer

From the email inbox, USGS 7.5 minute topo maps in pdf format, set up to be printed on you printer.  Hillshading, meant to give you an idea of the topography, at no extra cost.

Given the previous post, these could be all sorts of useful.

Well I don't care for this one iota

(Via the Drudge Report)

Maybe it's time to measure me for a tinfoil hat.

Even before the FBI identified new cyber attacks on two separate state election boards, the Department of Homeland Security began considering declaring the election a "critical infrastructure," giving it the same control over security it has over Wall Street and and the electric power grid.

I didn't know that the jokers who brought us Too Stupid for Arbys had also given themselves control over the security of Wall Street and the electric company, although that does explain a few things.  But the elections?

I'm betting this election is in the bag already.  I, for one, am not looking forward to our new Democrat overlords.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

A little something from the Washington Post on the American Redoubt

(Via the Drudge Report)

My-oh-my, but the word on preppers is getting around.  Even the Washington Post appears to take them seriously.  By the standards of the traditional old media, it's a pretty fair treatment of those who have made their way to Rawles' American Redoubt.