Monday, April 24, 2017

Complacency kills

Most people figure that if they follow John Farnam's "3 Rules of Risk Management":

Don’t go to stupid places; don’t associate with stupid people; don’t do stupid things.

That they will probably go through life without the need to ever defend themselves from bad guys. And they right--right up until they're wrong.

A series of events, relatively local to me, is finally drawing to a close, and that motivates me to write a little something on the subject. You'll notice it has a crapload of tags, because you can't pigeonhole this one easily.

If you read the article I'll eventually link, you'll get all this background, but I want to state this myself. In May, 2014, 3 men attempted to rob a local business. The owner, who was armed, shot one and all three were arrested. The 3 were gang members. Other members of the gang began to stalk the owner and his wife, who took some steps to beef up their security posture. These steps were, as we'll see, ineffectual.

In October, 2014, there was a knock at the door of the owner's home. His wife answered and was immediately shot and killed. The owner armed himself and returned fire, but his gun jammed after the first shot. He was shot and left for dead. The shooter left, but heard the man sobbing and returned to deliver the coup de grace. A third individual in the home, the owner's son, was uninjured. I speculate this is because he was out of sight during the event.

It has taken some time, but everyone involved in this is being brought to justice, for various values of justice. There will unfortunately, IMHO, be no executions. The victims' son is keeping a low profile out of fear of further retribution by the gang.

I don't want to speak ill of the dead. They didn't know what they didn't know. Those of us who have been raised around guns, who have used guns as a tool in their work, who have trained in armed self defense or in law enforcement, we can all see the series of mistakes that were made that led to this unfortunate conclusion.

What I want to do is jar you the hell out of your complacency. COMPLACENCY KILLS. You need to understand this at a gut level.

We're all guilty of it. We've bought gear, spent money, time and effort, irritated our spouses, used time off for things other than vacations, and you simply get tired of all that effort with no obvious return. God, but I just want to go to the beach, sit under an umbrella and drink!

No one says you can't.  We all need a break. No one can live in Condition Red, or Orange or even Yellow, forever. You'll lose your mind. But remember, it's a break. Eventually, you have to come back and live in reality, and the reality is that COMPLACENCY KILLS.

I don't care if you live in a "good neighborhood". I do, and my house has been burgled. These folks lived in a much nicer one, and they're dead. Criminals don't care about your neighborhood. They don't care that the cops usually spend more effort on the nicer areas than on the crappy ones. They know where the good stuff is, and that's where they're going to come. The gangbangers really don't give a crap. They pretty much figure they're going to die young anyway, so they don't have much in the way of fear. They are particularly dangerous because They. Don't. Care. About anything. As the old saying goes, they'd as soon shoot you as look at you.

I don't care if you have a gun, or a couple of guns, or a bunch of guns. Do you do any sort of training, even if it is just watching videos on Youtube? It's been said before, but a gun is not a magical talisman whose presence keeps evil at bay. It's a tool, and you have to know how to use it and when you can use it.

I don't care if you've had a training class, do you practice? Do you get to the range? Do you even shoot at all, bro? You have to get to the range and practice with that gun in your hand, and punching holes in paper doesn't count. You need to move and shoot, shoot from behind cover, shoot on the move, draw from a holster, draw from concealment, draw on the move. If you can and you're willing, shooting sports like IDPA and USPSA are good things to participate in; they'll give you plenty of practice at these things.

We have to face some ugly facts. We all know the police aren't everywhere; they never have been. But things are changing around us, and not in a good way. Violent crime seems to be starting to trend up, and there are stories in the news that crime stats in various locations may have been cooked for some years to make the politicians look good. There are chief LEOs who are telling their citizens that they need to arm themselves because their departments are over stretched and they are, in effect, on their own. While there is no hard statistics, it appears that criminals are getting more violent in their attacks. Last but hardly least, we have had and will probably continue to have terrorist attacks on our own soil.

While the likelihood of any one of us being involved in an incident is small, it isn't zero, and the effects of it can change your life--or end it. Just as with prepping for a hurricane or an economic displacement, preparing yourself to defend your life and property takes time, effort and money. But the chances you'll need to use that equipment and those skills are probably higher than any other thing you will prepare yourself for.

Remember, complacency kills. Don't be complacent.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Climate change

Does climate change? Of course it does, over vast amounts of time. Are human actions influencing it? Unclear, but unlikely. So why are well-known scientists, as opposed to TV wanna-bes like Bill Nye, not Marching for Science?

Because they refuse to bow to the new religion.

He was Trump before Trump was Trump

“We rolled the dice with the future of this country,” he tells me. “And I think it’s going to come up snake eyes.”

I'm not a fan of Politico, and even while this article has its moments where it sets my teeth on edge, it has a point of view that's worth consideration. Pat Buchanan was indeed espousing the same ideas as Donald Trump decades before Trump was elected. Unfortunately, he was far ahead of the public consciousness of the seriousness of the situation. Most people were too busy being lulled into semi-consciousness by a steady diet of cheap consumer goodies to notice how the country was being hollowed out by a succession of  Presidents and Congresses intent on cuddling up to a "New World Order" that the public was told would bring peace and prosperity for everyone.

Instead, it's brought vast riches for a few, a vastly decreased standard of living for many, an improved standard of living for many others, constant "terrorism" and a world-wide sense that we have fucked up but no agreement on just how, where or when we did it. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the rise of nationalistic politicians everywhere are simply indications that we now "get it" and want something done--we just aren't quite sure how or what to do.

I can remember when the Berlin Wall fell a few people warning that we would miss the Cold War. I never figured I would be one of the ones doing so.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

It's been a while

I really owe you some good, original content of some sort.  I even have some, but Mrs. Freeholder and I have been at an Undisclosed Oceanside Location with Old Friend and Mrs. Old Friend for some long needed rest, recreation and re-connection. Without going into a lot of detail, let's say it was good. It's something that we should do more often, especially in these times of apparent uncertainty.

At any rate, after driving a couple of hundred miles home, finding that Daughter and Son had not held up their end of the bargain and that the Freehold was somewhat trashed (and yes, there have and will be repercussions), gotten the the mess cleaned up and now having eaten, I'm beat. I'm basically indulging in Mindless Intertubz Surfing, or I was until I ran into a mention of this.

Yes, I've said before that I will no longer join in the National Day of Sackcloth and Ashes every year, and I have no intention on going back on that. But this is something special. On September 12, 2001, in an unprecedented gesture, Queen Elizabeth allowed (read that as "directed") the Coldstream Guards to play the US national anthem at the ceremonial changing of the guard as a show of solidarity and to comfort the US citizens who were stranded in Great Britain when all flights were grounded in the aftermath of 9/11.

I remember those empty skies--the first time in my life I could look up and not see planes in the air. I can only imagine what it would be like to be stranded on a foreign shore, knowing your country had been attacked and knowing you weren't going to be able to get home for some unknown period.

Hell of a thing.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

You gotta read this

I'm not sure I can describe it with any real justice, but it's about Israel and its defense, terrorism and one Israeli general's thoughts on our current issues in the West with Muslims. Seriously, go read it and draw what you will from it.

Putting up a 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna, Part 1

The weather is getting back to spring, and it's time to launch into some spring projects. One of many is the installation of a Cushcraft 6m/2m/70cm beam antenna. Now, if I were an real, old-fashioned ham, I'd build it. And I'd have nearly as much money in the parts and specialty tools as I'd have in just buying it. When I consider the hassle/swearing factor, plus trying to dial that sucker in, I'll just put up with being called an "equipment operator" and buy the antenna.

First however, you have plan the installation. My "ham shack" (actually, ham shack in waiting), which is actually nothing more than one end of 40-something feet of L-shaped workbench, resides in the basement of our house, which is a stereotypical brick ranch house. Fortunately, it's located on the end of the house where I plan on putting up the mast, which makes for nice short cable runs. This is important to minimize transmission and reception loss in the antenna cables themselves. Even using LMR-400 cable, which is a good low-loss cable, I want to keep my runs as short as possible.

The antenna itself, per the manual, can be installed on common thin wall antenna mast. Given that I need 20' of mast, that seems to be a bit on the light side to me, especially since it isn't easy to place stabilizers in the middle of the mast. This is due to the distance to the side of the house and lack of adequate structure to tie into. The brick makes for a nice house, but it's a veneer, not a structural element. The only place I can get to structure is at the peak of the roof.

I've decided to use some 1" galvanized pipe I have had lying around. Originally it was top rail on an old chain-link fence that dated from the early 1970s. Much heavier than what they use for top rail these days, it's far heavier than antenna mast. It will have one coupling somewhat above the middle of the mast, but that I can't help. It's better than the 5 joints I would have with the thin wall mast, which I can only get in 5' sections.

So, having purchased a Rohn antenna mast bracket to secure the upper end, I made sure I had the appropriate tools, lag screws, drill bits and so on on hand. There's nothing like being in the middle of a project and needing to make a run to the hardware store. Then it's up the ladder to mount the bracket.

This turned out to be far easier than I expected it to be. Son was available to assist by spotting in case his old man decided to increase the family net worth by pitching head first off the ladder, but all went relatively well. The only unexpected thing was that I didn't hit as much solid wood on the right side as I expected, and I hit more on the left. When I had scoped this out in the attic, it appeared that there was a gap between the last rafter and the fascia board, so I had prepared for that by getting a couple of 6" lag screws. I also took a couple of 2" screws with me, just in case I hit fascia backed by an unseen rafter. So what did I hit? Fascia backed by an unseen rafter on the right and something solid for the length of a 6" drill bit on the left. So I used one of each.

That sucker is up there.  The one thing I would like to see is the legs spread wider apart for some extra stability. I may try to find some sort of bracket to the middle of the mast after all, but for now we're going with what we have.

After this, I dropped a plumb line and marked the approximate center of the mast so we can dig the hole for it to sit in. I don't think I'll hit any utilities, but I think I'm going to call the "One Call" folks Monday. I know my cable comes through that area, but right next to the house, and I believe the power does further out.  Even though I'm hand digging, I'd hate to find either by accident.

Next up is threading the ends of the ex-top rail. I dig out my Dad's old pipe vise and his pipe threader and dies. I start looking for the 1" die and...there is no 1" die. I would have sworn he had dies from 1/8" up to 2", but nope, they stop at 3/4. Bad Language. At least I found a refurbed 1" die for that antique threader on eBay; theoretically it will be here before the end of next week. What was that I said about having to make a run to the hardware store in the middle of a project?

I can continue by drilling the hole through the wall of the house, but that one is going to take a while, and I would rather have a full day to do it, so I packed up and called it a day. More when I circle around to this next week.

Friday, April 07, 2017

Here we go, lobbing cruise missiles again

Last night, we launched what appears to be a pretty well designed and targeted attack on a Syrian government airbase. From all reports, it achieved all its goals, including minimal causalities on the ground. Today, the news and opinion is all over the place. I've seen just about everything you could imagine:

  • Trump was right
  • Trump was wrong
  • The Wall St. cabal has co-opted the Presidency
  • Now both parties and the media love him
  • Europe loves him
  • The Syrians love him
  • We just helped out ISIS
  • That we were suckered in by a false flag op
  • That is is long past time we "did something"
  • Why did we "do anything"--it's not our problem
  • The chemical weapons were actually in possession of the Syrian rebels and were accidentally hit by a Syrian government bomb
  • The neocons have won control of the White House
  • The Alt-Right has officially abandoned Trump
I'm probably leaving out a few, but I'm anxiously scanning for word on space alien involvement.

I also have a few not exactly rhetorical questions I'd like to toss out there for consideration:
  • How is this supposed to improve our relations with Russia?
  • Why in the world did you do this with the Chinese President in your own house? Please don't tell me you're trying to make a point about the South China Sea in some sort of bizarre twofer.
  • What happened to that campaign promise about keeping out of Syria?
  • Am I alone in seeing the Mideast as the Balkans of the 21st century? With the commemoration of the US entry into WWI ongoing, this one is especially frightening to me. Hell, I thought Mr. Wilson Trump was going to keep us out of foreign wars for a while.
I guess it was nice while it lasted. Now we're back to reality. At least we got Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Hopefully that will work out for us.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

I hate cleaning guns

My least favorite thing about shooting is cleaning my guns. While I do think that a gun needs to be cleaned after it's shot, I'll also tell you that I've at gotten over the whole "the patch needs to come out as clean as it goes in" thing. There needs to be balance in all things, and gun cleaning isn't immune as far as I'm concerned.

I've used a lot of gun cleaning products over the years, although I've hardly used them all. I haven't conducted any sort of exhaustive testing, though I have read a number of tests (and I think I've probably blogged a bit on some) and some of them have influenced the products I use. Just to have something to blog about today, I'm going to bore you with just how I've arrived at my process for gun cleaning and lubrication.

Back in the days of my youth, it was Hoppe's #9 and 3-in-1 oil. That's what my grandfather used, it's what my dad used and therefore it's what I used. Of course, they also knew they had to clean their hunting guns after they had sat in those old glass-doored gun cabinets over the summer or they would be gooey enough to be problematic in the woods. I still have a bottle of Hoppe's around that I use for the initial cleaning of any newly acquired "old" guns.

(Speaking of cleaning newly acquired "old" guns, sometimes harsh methods are called for. For me, that's Brakleen. (Yes, I can see some of you shuddering. Feel free.) Take the action out of the stock and make sure any plastic or polymer parts are removed. If you think it might be anything other than metal, remove it. Then spray away. Brakleen will remove everything except the metal.  Beware, that means every bit of protective lubrication as well, so relube the cleaned parts quickly. Of course, if you have a nice ultrasonic cleaner, that's preferable, but not everyone has one handy that will handle a barreled action.)

In the military, we were given a CLP, usually Break Free CLP. Yes, it's been around since shortly after dirt. And it works tolerably well if you do your part and don't shirk on the elbow grease. It also does a pretty good job on protecting. It never seemed to be so great at lubrication, which is why we all kept a bottle handy. If we were having problems with an M-16, our first action was to squirt a bunch in the ejection port. You'd be amazed how often that fixed the problem.

When I got my first couple of guns, I fell back to old habits, and then I actually read the instructions on the bottle of Hoppe's. Who knew it would work as a gun oil, if probably not a very good one. I mean, it said right there on the bottle to put it on a patch and push it through the bore to prevent rust after cleaning. Well heck, if it worked there, it ought to work for the rest of the gun. Thankfully I shot enough that I never had to find out just how much protection it did or didn't provide.

Eventually I had enough guns and shot them enough that I had to put some actual research into the subject. I was spending an inordinate amount of time cleaning guns and I simply needed a better way. Luckily, by then we had this Intertubz thing, and gun forums, and the know-it-alls who infest gun forums. You could ask a question and get all kinds of answers, some of them even knowledgeable. I went through an extended period of trying this and that cleaner and lube and learned a good bit along the way. I finally found some actual good advice and decently done test results, and I've wound up with the system I'm using today.

I'm going to outline it, but don't take it as something Moses brought down the mountain in his back pocket. It works for me. You may think it's the height of lubrication lunacy, and I'll be more than happy to listen to anyone who can cite actual evidence that shows a better way.

For cleaning, non-critical lubrication and protection from rust, I use Eezox. It was a little hard to get used to using, because a little goes a very long way--a quart lasts me a couple of years at this point. (I'm not shooting as much as I did at one time.) It cleans everything including lead residue, it has protected my guns from Demon Rust without failure and it doesn't smell horrible. I clean guns in the basement and so far I have not gotten a complaint from the upstairs inhabitants. You will find that, if you clean a new gun before shooting, clean up goes much easier.  An old gun will take several cleanings, the first couple of which you will get crap out of your barrel that you won't believe, but eventually it will also become easier to clean. For me, a normal cleaning will be a few strokes with a brush and Eezox, followed by alternating wet/dry patches, usually a dozen or so. At that point, it's as clean as it will reasonably get. Wipe the metal surfaces down very lightly with Eezox and let them dry.

For internal cleaning and lubrication of trigger assemblies, especially ones I don't want to take out of a gun or disassemble for some reason (or I'm in a hurry), I use Hornady One Shot. It cleans out the gunk and leaves a light dry lube behind. It also seems to be safe on synthetic parts, so you can use it in polymer guns.

On gun rails, I use grease. I'm not super picky on what grease, just as long as it is a reasonable quality grease. When you consider that the environment isn't some huge number of PSI or temperature in degrees, you really don't have to be super picky--the stuff isn't going to break down because of stress.  I suspect in a pinch you could use Vaseline. I've been using up some Mil-Tec that I got as a sample a long while back, and I'm just about out of it. When that runs out, I'm going to use a good quality, yet inexpensive, general purpose synthetic grease that I already have purchased for the purpose. I figure the 4 ounce tube will last me the rest of my life.

There are a few places on some guns (Hiya, Glock) that actually want oil. Plus ARs like to be wet, although I've successfully ran mine with dry lube only for a couple of hundred rounds at a time with no observable wear. So you'll want some oil on hand. Again, I believe you can go with anything that doesn't gum up over time--I suspect a quart of synthetic motor oil would work and last a lifetime. I can't tell you that for sure, since I just take what I need from whatever quart happens to be open at the time. I use Royal Purple, and so far, no problems with weights from 5W-20 - 10W-40. If you're picky, they do have an oil specifically for guns, if you can find it in a store. I never have. I have a needle oiler meant for machinery; I just fill that bad boy up and lube on.

Bear in mind it doesn't take a lot of lube to properly lube a gun, even an AR. Too many people over do the lubrication of their guns. Any lube that stays wet will attract dirt and the crap that comes out of the chamber after firing. None of this is good for moving parts. Keep an eye on the parts you're lubing, and if you aren't seeing wear, keep reducing the amount of lube until you see a little, then increase one step. That's how much lube you need. Don't sweat that tiny bit of wear you'll cause, it isn't going to hurt the performance of the gun; at least I've never noticed it causing a problem. You've probably just scuffed off some high spots.

So that's how I do it. Your mileage may vary, offer not good in Alaska and Hawaii, so on and so forth.

I suppose there are outlets for most everything

Body Armor Outlet

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

For the electronics geek in you

If there is no electronics geek in you, you may as well skip this post. If there is, ElectronicsNotes has a series on YouTube on oscilloscopes.

Something else to spend time on. :-)

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

About that light blogging lately

Yeah, totally my fault. I've been out enjoying the weather for a while. We took the RV RVing, I've been working in the yard, getting some things organized for some outdoor projects, sitting on the porch reading (hey, got to enjoy the retirement thing while it lasts) and talking to a former employer about some "casual" employment.

That last one, kiddies, is why you never do any of these, no matter how bad you think your job sucks. You may later determine that you were wrong. Burned bridges are bad things.

But this afternoon, my reading was inside on the Intertubz, in particularly SurvivalBlog. I really don't read the folks on my blogroll like I used to, so when I do, it tends to be a binge read sort of thing. Probably good thing I went by there, because I found several goodies for you.

Here's one for the Glock owners. Guns break, even Glocks. While some Glock owners think that is a heresy, I'm here to tell you that all guns break--it's in their nature as mechanical objects cursed with moving parts. It really doesn't matter what brand they are, they break.  Greg Ellifritz at Active Response Training has a listing of all the parts that commonly break in Glocks. Spend a few bucks and buy spares.

One for the prepping folks is Wertz's Home Grown Beef and Pork. I've not tried this myself, but the review at Survivalblog is glowing. They have a variety pack that seems made for sampling. It's not cheap, but good meat is expensive and this stores for 15 years. It's also pre-cooked, which means in an emergency you won't need a lot of fuel to use it. Remember, this is prepping we're talking about, not grocery shopping.

Here's one that didn't come from Survivalblog, but something they linked lead me to it. The gun safety types are going to go apeshit over it and reasonably so--it could have been done without exposing anyone to risk. I wouldn't have done it this way, but the info is important. If you've never had the experience of having incoming rounds "thwip" past you, this is what it sounds like. Commit it to memory, because you may not realize the sound of gunfire is pointed at you. You will, however, hear the rounds pass you if they're still supersonic. It's a nasty little sound.

Meanwhile, in La La Land

Some of you may know that Kamala Harris, California'a Attorney General, has been running for Barbara Boxer's US Senate seat seemingly forever. You probably also know that the woman is rabidly anti-gun. You may even remember that she ginned up a questionable raid and seizure of a firearm collector's sizable collection a couple of years ago, and she got a lot of media attention for that.

You will not hear in the legacy media that she has lost in court and had had to hand all 541 guns back to their owner. This does not fit into the narrative and will be buried as deeply as possible.

But you will know it.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Glorious weather leads to saving money

With the exception of a round of thunderstorms Tuesday night, we have been blessed with some seriously wonderful spring weather, and I've been doing everything except blogging.

You are probably wondering how nice weather leads to saving money, since most people do things that cause them to spend money. Well, one of the things the nice weather has done is keep me very busy, busy enough that I haven't had time to indulge in a certain guilty pleasure--watching TV in the evenings.

Like most people, we have cable and pay a pretty penny for it. But for several years, I've noticed that our TV viewing habits here at The Freehold were changing. Mrs. Freeholder watches primarily two things, "Ru Paul's Drag Race" (none of us get that one) and Atlanta Braves baseball in season. Son watches Netflix and Hulu Plus. Daughter is mostly the two cable cooking networks, with a couple of other cable network series and a lot of binge watching of series on Netflix. (The girl has a job, but she needs to land a position in her career field soon, and I'll leave it at that.) I watch the gun shows on Outdoor Channel (I know that's a shock) and since my "retirement" have been slowly working my way through "NCIS" on Netflix.

Out cable provider, Time Warner, soon to be Spectrum, also hauls our Internet traffic.

Seeing a pattern here? We're paying for something that we don't use much of. If I had been paying closer attention, I would have noticed that.

Que my email yesterday evening, which delivered the coming month's bill.  Which went up. By a third. This is after the previous month's bill, which had went up $16 due to the 4 little black decryption boxes we had to install last year when Time Warner encrypted their cable channels. At least they were "kind" enough to let us have them free for a year. Oh, and last month's bill was the end of our 1 year contract, and specifically noted that fact, and that our cable contract would be continued at the same rate.

Needless to say, I was unamused and called TW customer dis-service immediately. After the usual conversation with the first level person, who had no explanation for what was going on, I gave her my yearly ultimatum: "Figure out how to keep the bill level or you can cancel the cable and sell me Internet access only."

This method has worked for 6 years now. I get transferred to a higher level and they figure out a way. This year, apparently Spectrum has decided they have all the cable TV customers they need, because they didn't even try--they simply processed the cutoff order. When I arose this morning, the little black boxes were all blinking "no signal".

I'm cool with this. I spent yesterday evening profitably. I spent the first month's savings ordering an outdoor TV antenna, so we can get all the local channels, something like 32, over the air. I already have a good distribution system in the house, so all I need to do is mount it and run the cable to the distribution point.

I also didn't miss watching TV on the last night of cable. Oddly enough, no one else watched any, either.

I've built a spreadsheet that compared the service we had with online services from SlingTV, Playstation Vue and DirecTV Now. Not only should we be able to get nearly if not all the content we really watched from cable, but we'll get some new content that may be interesting, and it's all less expensively and without a contract. Most of the services will throw in any device you need to access them for free or at a cut rate as a bonus.

While pulling all the TW devices I need to return (4 decryptors and a DVR), something else struck me and I did some math. We were using a bit over 12 kilowatt hours of electricity per day to keep all that stuff powered. Extend that out to year and it's just short of 4400 kilowatt hours, which is roughly 2 months of our total electricity usage. Think on that concept a second. For us that's well over $300 of electricity per year just to keep all those devices powered on.

All that money for something we really didn't use that much. Damn, but that irritates me. It also motivates me to start checking all the other "vampire loads" around the house and see what can be done about disabling them.

It appears that I'm going to save around $700/year, which isn't a huge amount of money, but it's something. For some folks, it is a huge amount. Spent wisely, it could be a huge amount of beans, bullets or bandaids for you prepping stocks.

You have to love beautiful spring weather.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

I've been trying not to go into politics

But I just can't help myself. Great Bleeding Ghu, how tone deaf do you have to be?

The nation votes in President Donald Trump, in part because they want Obamacare to die a horrible death sooner rather than later. However, the Grand Ossified Party, who has voted over 60 times to repeal that same law, when finally faced with a chance to do so and make it stick, comes up with a replacement that can best be characterized as Obamacare: The Sequel.

Paul Ryan, Speaker of the Dead Horse House, ignoring the hue and cry from all corners, including the Freedom Caucus within his own party, forges ahead, business as usual. President Trump for some unknown reason decides that the ones who got him to the White House suddenly no longer matter and signs on to this unholy offspring of the GOP and the insurance and healthcare industries. We're gonna close us a deal!

And it gets shot down. Never even got to a vote because Ryan would rather not have the vote than watch it go down in flames.

Personally, I'm glad they pulled it, and grateful to the people who helped kill it. I'm actually enjoying the glee on the other side of the street. I hope it stings like hell on our side--you idiots deserve it.

Now Trump has decided to go on to tax cuts (There's a stupid idea, with healthcare costs now scheduled to go to the moon, Alice, to the moon!), but he has said he'll be happy to work on a bi-partisan version of Obamacare repeal--as if the Democrats have any interest in that. They're all to happy to follow Napoleon's dictum, "Never interrupt your enemy when he is doing something foolish."

This was off to a fun start, but everyone took their eye off the ball. They've forgotten why they got elected and figured they could go back to the Same Old Thing and we'd put up with it. Wrong-a-rini. A few highly principled folks stopped you, and God bless 'em for doing it. Now stop futzing with taxes and go back to work and bring us real healthcare reform. Or 2018 is going to be a really fun election for you.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Can you train with 50 rounds?

Now that's an interesting question--Can you do effective training with 50 rounds of ammo? After all, many of the training drills we see require much higher round counts.

The answer is a qualified "yes". Of course, we're assuming that you already have the basics down, in that you can handle the basics of running your gun safely and can hit your target reasonably well. I wouldn't recommend this as your only training. There are going to be times you need a 200 round afternoon, or a 1000 round class. There is also a place for dry fire training (and allow me to note I have a NextLevel SIRT pistol, bought with my own coin, and it is a great dry fire training tool--but some of the Laserlytes are calling me), and you should do a lot of it, since it's cheap over time and it works.

Without further ado, live fire training on 50 round ammo budget.

How to train on a 50 round budget from NextLevel Training on Vimeo.

What a crappy day

Today hasn't been one of my best days. I woke up with a migraine attack starting up--something I haven't done in a long while. Even though the new neurologist, who specializes in migraine and associated disorders, has helped me improve by several orders of magnitude, the reality is that I have a have a neurological disorder that is going to be with me for the remainder of my life, and every so often it's going to make itself known. At least today it wasn't one of the Oh-My-God-My-Head-Is-Going-To-Explode attacks, it was one of the "new", much lesser attacks that I have now that I'm getting appropriate care. You feel crappy, but you can still function at a reduced level. And I only get them somewhere between every 5-14 days.

Hey, it beats having the OMG ones 20 or 25 days of the month, trust me. That isn't living, that is existing. I had one of those a few days ago, first one in months, and I honestly don't know how I was able to do the things I did, in terms of holding a job and such, for as long as I managed it. I guess I was good at hiding it or going through the motions or something.

At any rate, I decided that another day of burning brush piles wasn't going to be happening. Instead, I took on more domestic activities, like laundry (yes, retirement is exciting) and a lot of random walking the Internet. I've found a three things of interest.

The first two can fall under the headline of "Your Government At Work". Unfortunately, I don't think anyone really wants this to be how our government works. Encouraging police agencies to steal private property for profit and strong-arming some citizens to entrap other citizens into criminal enterprises just doesn't match up with the things I was taught in civics class about "how our country works". Neither of these is exactly news if you've been paying attention, but they both just felt like slaps in the face today.

The third goes back to a topic I've touched on any number of times, the impending disruptions and changes in society. This article is written from a leftist perspective and looks at the election of Donald Trump, Steve Bannon's part in it and in particular, Bannon's interest in Strauss and Howe's book "The Fourth Turning".

This particular piece can take a while to read, especially if you chase down all the linked articles. But it was interesting, because it shows that someone on that side of the street understands that the reason for Trump's pimp-slap of the Clinton candidacy wasn't just because a bunch of redneck pissed off white guys voted for him, and he isn't screaming for Teh Resistences to get out in da streetz and PROTEST! As you might suspect, I don't agree with the author's conclusion, which calls for us to in effect step outside of history and find some mystic group of people to help us "level up".

Spare me the gamer talk, please. We won't be stepping outside of history or, as he says we must, our genetics. While it's possible for individuals and small groups to do such things, asking the mass of humanity to do so simply won't happen. Think of it as a human form of inertia. You can't make 7+ billion people move easily, even with the threat of the dissolution of the old system and the fear of a new unknown system. Things are going to change, whether anyone likes it or not, but you can't control the change. If we can do anything in terms of effecting this change, we need to do what we can to keep it as non-destructive as possible, especially in terms of such things as large wars. Our war-fighting tools are a bit too effective these days, and things could get out of hand. That would lead us to one of the population bottlenecks he notes. This would not be a Good Thing.

At any rate, it was an interesting afternoon of reading, even if it was a bit on the dark side.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Glock G30--the results are in

This afternoon, I took my Neighbor and Daughter to the range. I also took the replacement Glock 30 and the gun that I'd purchased as Plan B, a Springfield XD Mod. 2 in .45 ACP. When I first got the word from Glock that they were going to warranty replace the G30, I felt a little foolish that I had jumped the gun with Plan B. After this afternoon, I don't feel so foolish.

I'm forced to the conclusion that there is something about the G30 Gen 4 that simply doesn't work with certain shooters. I find it difficult to believe that two guns produced at two widely different times would have the same malfunction. I also find it difficult to believe the gun is a "bad gun"; if it was the Intertubz would be lit up with that news, and it isn't. The gun may be stupidly ammo sensitive and it wouldn't be the first or the last. Whatever it is, I'm over it.

This particular example is both better and worse than its predecessor, if that can be said. Between myself and Neighbor, we managed 100+ rounds through it before calling it quits. With RWS Match ammo, it functions fairly well--I only took a single piece of brass, and that was off my right shoulder.  Neighbor took none. The PMC Bronze was a disaster when I shot. Nearly every round resulted in the brass hitting me before it hits the ground. Neighbor did better with perhaps 3 in 10 impacting him.

We videoed this from the start, slow motion on an iPhone 7. For the life of me, I can't see anything other than my oddball shooting stance that could be an issue. I'm doing a good job of controlling the recoil, not limp-wristing and so on. But from some of the video, shot from dead behind, if I had my head in a "normal" position, I'd be complaining about the RWS Match ammo as well, as I would have caught a significant fraction of it in my face. I doubt I would have caught much less of the PMC in that position.

The video shows both types of ammo ejecting in roughly the same patterns. There appears to be a difference with the force of the ejection--the PMC seems to eject less forcefully. I noted a distinct difference in the sound of the report between the two, with the PMC being a much sharper crack than the RWS. These two observations made me wonder if the PMC was loaded significantly differently, but a quick Google search shows that the manufacturers are claiming a muzzle velocity of 850 fps for the PMC and 853 for the RWS. While I could chrono examples to be sure, I doubt the difference is going to be that drastically different, so that's probably a wild goose I don't care to chase. I could try other brands of ammo, but I've done that before and I don't think this will make any more difference now than it did then. If this ammo was a problem, it should have showed up earlier with other guns--I've nearly finished off the case of PMC and I'm halfway through the RWS, and most of it was shot in other guns.

The Springfield, on the other hand, digested both types of ammo and performed with the sort of competence that I've come to expect from their pistols. The gun just runs.

I have three other Glocks, a 19, 21, and 23, that I have zero issues with and that I plan on keeping. This one, unless I have some moment of epiphany in the very near future, is going to be on the "thinning the herd" list. I hate it, because it's a very likable gun, if you leave out the whole brass in the face thing. It shoots well, the recoil is easy to manage and the size is easy to conceal. But when you keep getting brass in the face, you develop ugly flinch, and that's not an advantage in self defense situation.

Sorry, G30, you're getting kicked to the curb. I hope your next owner has better luck with you.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Home on the Range

I've been holding off on this, but it appears Brigid has taken the Home on the Range blog under wraps. I'm sure she has good reasons for this, and I probably missed them because I don't read my own blogroll often enough. I had hoped that this was a misconfiguration, but enough time has passed that it obviously isn't. It's unfortunate that she's had to do this; she was one of the best writers out there, and her voice will be missed.

Brigid, if you should happen by, drop us a note and let us know that things are well with you.

Edit, 3/21/2017: Well, the news isn't from Brigid, but from Jed of Freedomsight. It seems that the unpleasantness from the election spilled over onto the Home on the Range and Brigid had to take it under due to trolls. I find that pretty amazing because while she did sort of sideways mention her leanings, she never really got involved in politics. In these days of increasing tribalism, I guess that isn't good enough. If you want to see her take on it, plus a very good post on big round engines on planes, you can see it at .

I'm going to leave Home of the Range in the blogroll, just as a reminder of what we are in danger of losing.

Edit, 3/22/2017: I have heard directly from Brigid. She is well, and you can see a comment from her in the comments on this post. While she did not directly ask me to, I get the distinct impression that she would rather not have the site where is is guest blogging get passed around too widely. While I'm not the most widely read site on the Intertubz (waits for laughter to die down), I'm happy to cooperate in keeping the Cloak of Moderate I Can't Quite Make Out What I'm Seeing in effect. So I've deleted a couple of comments and redacted that information from my edit above. I'm always happy to assist a lady.

The Things the Intertubz Brings Me

(Via Clayton Cramer)

I never cease to be amazed. The Sagulator, a calculator that will tell you the amount of sag in a shelf under load for more types of wood than I knew existed, plus most types of manufactured wood products. Glass is a bonus.

Walther CCP Recall

From the Shooting Wire, there's news of a recall on the Walther CCP. No details are out other than the issue can cause a loaded CCP to discharge when dropped whether the safety is on or off. See for details on how to get your gun back in action.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

And some more on Kevin Ferguson

Remember Kevin Ferguson, the off duty LAPD officer who found himself the star in an impromptu production of  "Lord of the Flies"? Well, now the lead fly and his parents are suing him, claiming violation of civil rights and infliction of emotional distress. From what Google finds, this seems to be the latest development, and it's well over a week old. The only other development is that Ferguson has been taken off desk duty and is on non-field duty.

Everyone is sure taking their time with this, aren't they?

How does your (raised bed) garden grow?

Yes, time to get back to this spring time subject. It was a little hard to think about when I suddenly had to deal with snow (even though it was just a couple of inches and melted quickly) and an unseasonable cold snap that had me not only grateful that I hadn't carried the firewood back to the woodshed but carrying more wood up to the house. Someone in Weather Control should be appropriately disciplined.

While I should probably talk about season extenders, the next subject I had on tap was irrigation. Sure, you can simply drag around a garden hose and use a suitable garden spray wand and do it by hand, but do you want to spend an hour or three every so often doing it? You also risk damage to your plants by dragging the hose around (ask me how I know).

Better is an irrigation system. You can do this many ways, but the one I've come to like the best is drip irrigation. The best feature is that since it delivers water directly where its's needed, you use the least possible water, so you save water and if you pay for water, money. It's low flow rate means that it can be used with water main supplied systems, wells and with rain catchment systems. Because of the way it's put together, the parts can be reused to a large extent should your needs change. Using the commercially available gear it's not horribly expensive (my first foray into it, for ornamental plantings, paid for itself in a year), and if you want to go the DIY route, it can be even less expensive.

Here are a couple of videos, unfortunately each a bit longer than 5 minutes, on the subject. One is a general introduction using commercially available gear. While it's oriented to ornamental plants, the theory works for your raised beds.

The second is a DIY video is longer, since there is a lot more to go over. I really like the PVC version, and I'm going to look into building this one the next time I need more irrigation. My water is from a mains supplied system, so I have sufficient pressure for it to work. I suspect that it it wouldn't do so well on a low pressure system. They do a bit on raised beds, but not on raised beds used for square foot gardening. If you're doing square foot gardening, I think you'll need to do your holes differently.

Ah yes

When the Only Ones feel the bite, it suddenly sucks. Welcome to our world, former Police Chief Hassan Aden. You've just found out you're not an Only any more. You're stuck here with us proles. Sorry about the detention.

Friday, March 17, 2017

The end is near--maybe?

Those of you who remember the post about the New Gun Malfunction and its continuation post have no doubt been waiting for the thrilling conclusion. Well, so have I. While we're not quite there, the FedEx guy has just moved the story much closer to the end by dropping off a spanking new G30.

I've been waiting to do this update until this happened, but as fate would have it, it took a while. Once Glock had my original G30 back in hand along with the video I had shot, one of their armorers took it out and ran 100 rounds through it, and oddly enough, he caught brass in the face. Why this didn't happen to another armor who fired 60 rounds the last time will simply have to remain subject to conjecture.

The armorer called me and we talked the situation out. I have an odd stance, forced on me by my by being right-handed/left eye dominant. This doesn't help the situation. We discussed the internals of the pistol--it had the correct extractor and ejector and the appropriate recoil spring assembly. Once all that was disposed of, it didn't leave much room for tinkering with the original gun. To Glock's credit, they simply said they were going to replace the gun under warranty.

Folks, that is excellent customer service. That's how you make and keep happy customers.

Unfortunately, Smyrna didn't have the first or last G30 Gen 4 pistol in stock. I was offered my choice of several others, such as the G30FS, but I explained to them that I wanted the Gen 4 gun for some specific reasons. At this point, early in March, the next production run wasn't schedule until mid-March, but I was assured that I would get one of the first guns off the line.

That gun showed up today This one is an LE program gun, witnessed by the blue label on the case, and it came with the full kit--3 mags and so on. So even though this has dragged out a long while, those go a way toward soothing any irritation.

Checking the gun, I also noticed something. I've been reading Massad Ayoob's "Combat Handgunnery" over the last few days, and while I hope to write about it more in depth later, one of the things that struck me was the section on trigger finger position and gripping the gun. He advocates using the distal joint, just as Pat McNamara does in the video I posted a while back. He also advocates a "crush grip", which is basically holding the gun as hard as you can without shaking. This is what I was taught many years ago and far different than how my grip was changed in later years by other trainers. When I use the crush grip, I no longer have a problem getting that distal joint to the proper location on the trigger. That may just make this gun a keeper after all.

The weather here is warming (finally), so I'm hoping to get to the range this weekend and see if this gun demonstrates any random ejection issues. Cross your fingers. I'll let you know how it all comes out.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Just a quickie

I've been up to my armpits in Martians, as Bugs Bunny would say. Hopefully I'll be back and productive here tonight or tomorrow.

Some of the things I'm doing is some streamlining of my life--housecleaning, both figuratively and literally. I occasionally get in the mood for it, and I don't waste it when it occurs. One of the things that is gone is Twitter. They have slowly been getting more and more useless, adding in more and more rules about what can and cannot be said, who is allowed to say what and about whom it may be said and so on. The hell with them. I've deactivated my account (I think) and it should be deleted in a month. I've removed that feed from the sidebar.

I've also decided to take a break from Gab. I had high hopes for Gab, but just in the last day they've made a change in what I think of as a critical feature, and it was presented by Gab's management in a poor manner. I hope that the tone they took isn't indicative of how we as donors and supporters are perceived, but before I say anything really nasty and stir up an already well-stirred pot, I decided to just talk a walkabout.

All of this comes at a time when I'm withdrawing from social media to some extent. Not from any concern about security, but simply because it's a time suck and the signal to noise ratio is increasing to the point where it simply isn't worth any of my time. I'm still doing a little Facebook and I'm on LinkedIn for employment reasons, but all the rest of it can pretty much take a hike. Even though we're in the midst of an unseasonable cold snap, it will warm back up in a few days, and then I have range trips to make, work around the house to do, books I want to sit on the deck and read and all those fun things.

I may as well make the most out of this retirement thing as I can before some fool offers me another job.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Have you seen...

Have you seen the movie Hacksaw Ridge? I just watched it this afternoon and it was magnificent. While it takes liberties with the true story of Desmond Doss, I think it had to--no screen in existence could hold such a story. You have to be in awe of a man who was so strong in his religious convictions that he was willing to go, multiple times, into the hell that was the Pacific Theater during World War II without a weapon, without any training with a weapon, in order to meet his conviction that he had to serve his God, his country and his fellow man as a medic. If you haven't seen it, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Yes, it's a real product

(Found on Gab)

Yes, it's a real product. Not sure how well it works, but it's worth buying a bottle just to put it on the shelf to look at.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

I see a problem with your cunning plan

(Via the Drudge Report)

Before you can bail out of New York City by boat, you have to get through the city to the boat. Given the population density, I'm not too sure how well that's going to work.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Days of Rage

I'm not sure where I picked this up today, but wherever it was, thanks for bringing it to my attention.

“People have completely forgotten that in 1972 we had over nineteen hundred domestic bombings in the United States.” — Max Noel, FBI (ret.)

Yeah, the 70s. It wasn't all leisure suits and bad music. This long read brings back to my conscious memory many of the things that went on in my teenage years that I had forgotten-SDS, Weatherman, Puerto Rican seperatists, the Black Panthers and all of that crappy stuff. Airline hijackings to Cuba, bombs in NYC, Patty Hearst--the list seems endless and all bad.

Honestly, I'm guilty of over-romanticizing the 70s, and this makes me remember what a pulsating smelly ball of shit it really was. Where I lived I was mostly protected from the worst of it, and if I hadn't been, I would have been toast. I wasn't the smartest kid in the world in terms of street smarts back then. That took another decade to learn.

The takeaway from this long essay is how would a civil war start and what would it look like as each stage kicks off. You start with the fools we see in the streets now and you end with Godzilla's Trudging Zone.

The book that I stole the title of this post from? If you're not old enough to remember all this, you might want to read it. If you're old enough to remember it all, you probably still want to read it. Know your enemy.

Don't pick fights with people who have nothing to lose

(Via Michael Bane on Facebook)

That's what one of the commenters said about a piece at Ace of Spades HQ. Don't pick fights with people who have nothing to lose.

Yes, we're still mulling the election of Donald Trump, months after. This is a good thing, because Trump's election may be one of the watershed moments in American history. Reading it, I think Ace makes some valid points, in particular, these:

How far along the decline do you think we are? How close do you think we are to the point of no return?

Consider the implications of those for a moment. They imply that A) The United States, contrary to what many would prefer to believe, is a nation in decline, B) Trump may not be the savior of the country that many think he is and C) There is a point of decline past which the USA as we know it is finished.

Honestly, if any of these is a surprise to you, you haven't been paying attention, but no matter. You are now, and that's sufficient. As General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. said on Utah Beach, "We'll start the war from right here!"

Some of you reading this my be insulted or angry. "The USA is not declining!" Really? Take a look at our schools, at our uncontrolled borders, at our failed foreign policies, at our economy for the last 10+ years, at the kind of "man" that was "elected" for the past two terms as President and tell me that this is the same country that fought and won two world wars and was the engine that drove the global economy for decades. But be sure you look me in the eye and say it with a straight face.

All great nations have a cycle of being, of rise and fall and some repeat the cycle. We can hope we are that latter, but it would be a good idea to prepare in case we aren't. It's a good idea even if we are. A degree of self-sufficiency never hurt anyone as far as I can tell.

I'm starting to wonder if there is some larger reason that retirement was forced on me at this point in my life, years before I thought I would be ready for it. Even though I'm looking to end that forced retirement, while I'm retired I'm taking full advantage of the time off. I hope that you're taking advantage of whatever time we have, whatever time you have, to ready yourself and those around you for whatever the future may hold.

So how much does this gardening stuff cost?

At this point, you've seen a lot of information on gardening, and you're probably thinking something along the lines of "Dude, I can go to the grocery store cheaper!" You're probably correct in years 1-3 or so, but after that?

As with so many things, the big costs are up front. Plus you can bring costs down by spending some extra time on the garden. Don't complain, parking in front of the TV or computer is unhealthy. Get out there and sweat--it's good for you. :-)

Monday, March 06, 2017

So how much do I need to plant?

If you decide to try the gardening thing (and you should, better to know what you're doing before it's a critical need), you will probably ask yourself, "Self, if I were doing this to provide all my fruits and veggies, how much to I need to plant?"

It's probably more than you'd like to think, but less than you're afraid it might be.

Sunday, March 05, 2017

I love the Intertubz

Because it brings me wonderful things I never knew, like Montana-class battleships.

Artist's rendition of the USS Montana, BB-67
That is one big honkin' ship.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

The NRA Board of Directors Recommends a "Yes" vote on bylaws changes. Why you need to vote "HELL NO!" instead.

It's the time of year when we voting members of the National Rifle Association have the duty to vote for the Board of Directors and, if put before us, changes to the bylaws. This year it seems that we need to vote for some wholesale changes in the Board and zero changes in the bylaws.

Jeff Knox (son of Neal Knox, for those who aren't aware of that fact), writes in a piece at Ammoland exactly why you need to vote "HELL NO!".

There is a bit of discussion on a post at Of Arms and the Law. Jeff Knox chimes in there as well.

Dean Weingarten at Gun Watch has some analysis on the impact of the changes. If you're a voting member, you might pay particular attention to his technical advice on how to cast your vote.

Finally, No Lawyers - Only Guns and Money has a roundup of endorsements for the NRA Board. While it shouldn't substitute for your own research, it can be a starting point or validation--or neither.

For what it might be worth to you, I agree with the advice to vote "No" on the bylaw changes. While some of them are fluff, there are some in there that will inevitably make it harder for NRA members to have the level of input into the organization that we are accustomed to having.

As far as voting on the Board of Directors, while I haven't gotten far into my research, I'm leaning heavily toward voting against any SOB who currently sits on the board. This is based on the unanimous recommendation by the BOD for a "Yes" vote on the bylaw changes. To me it says they either agree that members need to have less input, or they didn't realize what was going on and therefore aren't competent to be on the board. While I'm well aware that I may be voting for very few of those running after all is said and done, I'm good with that.

It seems that we are going to be defending our rights from attacks in every direction. Stay alert, and don't get tired.

Thursday, March 02, 2017


The lack of posting was necessitated by a sudden interest by potential employers in yours truly and an adventure to Mountain Man's abode to assist him with some Ethernet cabling. As so many bloggers put it, the free ice cream has resumed below.

You can grow in the shade

When we were last Speaking of Raised Beds, commenter Harry Flashman noted that he was having problems with his mountaintop location where he got around 5 hours of sun per day. Yeah, that's a problem. There are solutions, and while they may not apply to Harry's (or every) situation, they give you some ammunition when you're trying to grow in a shady area.

Let's go over some of the suggestions from the video:

  • Prune back or cut down bushes and trees. While I like my landscaping and I love my big trees, the truth of it is that not all the landscaping that was here when we bought the house was worth keeping and a lot of the trees really needed to go for reasons of safety, appearance and the future ability to do things we wanted to do, like gardening.
  • Perform a solar assessment. You need to know where, when and for how long the sun hits the various parts of your yard.  Once you know that, you can really plan your garden.
  • Choose appropriate plant varieties for the amount of sun you get. If you have no space that gets full day sun, tomatoes probably aren't in your future.
There is another thing that it occurs to me as a possible suggestion. If you've ever seen pictures of a movie set or a photo shoot, you'll see people holding large sheets of reflective board to get more light on the subject. It might be possible to adapt this concept to an overly shady garden.

Don't let shade keep you from having a garden. As the Marines say, improvise, overcome, adapt.

Another update on the LA police officer and the Anaheim hoodlum

The Los Angles police officer has been identified as Kevin Ferguson, who is back on the job but is not working in the field. This is probably a good thing. You can find more information in this LA Times article.

As of yesterday, the investigations are still continuing. Given the plethora of  video evidence, it seems to me that if there was going to be charges against Officer Ferguson, they would have surfaced by now, but you never know for sure until he's officially cleared. My suspicion is that most of the Anaheim authorities would like to drop all the charges and make this go away as quietly as possible. Unfortunately their mayor is grandstanding, so that probably won't happen.

For those of us who are concealed carriers, there is a cautionary tale here, if you care to read it. And I'll leave it at that.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The latest on the off-duty LA cop and the Hispanic kid

Remember the off-duty LA cop and the crowd of Hispanic kids I blogged on? This article from the San Jose Mercury-News is the latest thing I can find. It seems that the investigation is still under way. Depending on the news source you read, it's everything from "Charges could still be filed against the officer" to "Hang 'im high!"


Speaking of raised beds

I've been posting a lot on raised beds, but we haven't actually talked about building the raised bed itself. It can be as easy as a few boards nailed together, but if you want it to last more than a couple of years, it takes a little more planning.

If you live in an area where termites are a problem, you can do it with metal. Eat that, bugs.

You can even raise your raised bed, so if you have problems bending over, you don't have to. I couldn't find a video for this, but from my reading (haven't tried it myself) it usually involves the use of cinder blocks, railroad ties or something similar to build a base for the raised bed. The raised bed doesn't weigh as much as you might think because the soil mix is much lighter than normal earth. The big trick is the floor for the bed, which must hold in the soil but provide for drainage. I'm thinking something like hardware cloth with a fine screen laid on top.

Yeah, you can get pretty carried away with this stuff.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Raised bed hoop houses

You can extend your growing season dramatically with a hoop house, and you can use miniature ones with raised beds. Here's a quick video on the miniature versions for raised beds.

Friday, February 24, 2017

I can find the oddest things on the Intertubz

I'm looking for information on timber framing, and I find a video on timbering a hard rock mine.

The guy has a whole series on hard rock mining, accompanied by his sidekick, Slim.

Fred Reed on Two Americas

Trump did not cause the deep division in the country. It caused him. There are two very different Americas. I suspect  that the half of the country that voted for Trump, that voted with wild enthusiasm, that roared at huge rallies, was not so  much voting for Trump as against the other America. It was just that they had never had a chance before. The two countries have little in common and do not belong on the same geography.

And it continues from there. I doubt I need to comment.

Hardening the walls of your home against pistol/rifle fire

While this is something that most people wouldn't want to do to their home now, it might be something that you would want to consider doing in bad times when the rule of law is failing.

NOTE: It is poor tactics to attempt to defend a building from inside! This is a method to render your home safer from random shootings, drive-by shootings and the like. A determined attack would have to be defended from outside the house and likely with more people than you will have available.

In most homes built in the last 50-75 years or perhaps longer, internal blocking in the walls would make using the actual walls difficult to impossible, as would insulation in homes built in the post-70s oil shock. You could pull down the drywall, rip all that our and then put up plywood or something similar and pour the gravel in from the top, but I think there is a better solution, and one that can be easily undone once things get back to normal.

Build new walls inside the original ones. I's use 1/2" (or whatever weird dimension passes for 1/2" these days) plywood on its side to give you a 4' tall protected space. For an extra margin of safety, consider making them thicker, perhaps by using 2x6s rather than 2x4s. You'll also want to use screws with washers or something like these Grip-Rite nails to help keep the inner wall from pulling loose from the 2-bys as happened in the video. Use large angle brackets to attach them to the studs in the existing walls. Leave the tops open so you can top off the gravel if needed. I'll leave things like working around heat registers and electric sockets to the builder.

My only serious concern is weight, but given these will be at the perimeter of the structure, I think the structure should be able to bear the weight. If your house is on a slab, Bob's your uncle. You could also use this in a single room in the house to form a safe room, but be aware of structural support issues.

And boy, do I sincerely hope it doesn't get to this. But I think I'll get a materials list together, just in case.

Gangs are going for more firepower

(Via the Drudge Report)

In the gun-controlled paradise that is Chicago, street gangs are upping their game, moving from pistols to long guns to fight their never-ending turf wars. I'm sure you're as shocked as I am. Chicago authorities blame, among others, Indiana and its "lax gun laws".

I've been writing a lot in the last few days about what I'm calling the potential for a "long hot summer" and others are calling the Second American Civil War. I don't see this as a "proper" civil war, because it's going to be multi-sided, and the sides will vary depending on where you are. In a metro area like Chicago, there may be 10, 15 or even 20 sides, all vying to control a piece of the urban pie. I think the long hot summer will tell us if there is a civil ware or not and just how bad we can expect things to be.

If things turn bad, if there really is a Second American Civil War--and signs are starting to point toward it--there will be what may appear to be pseudo-random reactions from the Powers That Be. Some will be intelligently thought out and some far less so as our governmental agencies flail about trying to control the situation.

You will need to be ready for these just as you will need to be ready for the events that prompt them. I would not say that it is impossible or even unlikely for places like Chicago to attempt door-to-door sweeps attempting to confiscate firearms or food or whatever the authorities, legally constituted or otherwise, have deemed that you should not have.

Something more to take into account as you move forward with your planning and into your implementation.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It must be the night for civil war

(From Michael Bane on Facebook)

Or maybe it's just Town Hall is hittin' a groove. At any rate, Kurt Schlichter has an interesting piece that plays off the civil war meme. One of the scary things he notes is an unscientific poll he did in which 77% of the respondents expect significant political violence in the next 4 years.

Well, if they all do something about that expectation, at least our side will be ready.

It's starting to become something of a meme

(Found on Facebook)

I'm finding more and more pieces in the media, such as this one on Town Hall,  that pronounce we are in the midst of the Second American Civil War. Are we? It doesn't feel like it to me, but it probably didn't feel like it to my ancestors until people started shooting, and in reality, the first civil war started long before that.

It could just be fashion, a band wagon to jump on. It could be clickbait. But I'm getting this sinking feeling that there is more than a bit of truth in these articles and blog posts. I sincerely believe that this summer will make the truth or lie of it obvious.

Just in case, I'm being more cautious in my daily activities. Shopping trips are now pretty much restricted to daytime hours. Evening trips are being eliminated if possible. I carry a larger handgun and more ammo. Trips to larger cities are only taken when necessary, and then with more precautions than I took a few months ago.

I'd like to suggest that all of you evaluate the situation in your area and the situation in the nation and take what precautions you deem necessary. I'm not saying run out and "stock up on canned food and shotguns", but look at your situation and consider what you'd need if you had to stay home for a week or two. Are you ready for that?

The long hot summer

(Links via the Drudge Report)

Is the long hot summer starting? Watch this, then watch some of the other videos that will show up on the right from the cell phone cameras of various witnesses, none of who called the police.

I believe the failure of any of them to make that call is an important fact that should not be missed. All of them are complicit in this attack.

According to the news story, it appears that the officer has been the target of what might be called harassment from these or other juveniles, all of whom use this street as a route to school.

Watching the videos, note the restraint of the off-duty officer when confronted by the wolfpack tactics of the "children", all of whom seem well-versed in just how to play this situation for the cameras.

I'm not going to defend the shot into the ground (which at first I thought was a negligent discharge), but I have to admit it had what I think was the intended effect--they scattered like roaches when the light goes on--and it finally attracted the attention of on-duty police units.

You need to note that these children are not children, no more than the children in "Lord of the Flies" were children. Individually I suspect they are fairly dangerous and in a group they obviously present the kind of clear and present danger that can justify the use of deadly force. Personally, I'd be less than surprised if some of them don't have older siblings who are gang members. Hell, I'd be less than surprised if some of them aren't already gang members--it would explain a few things.

I also note that if you are going to carry cross-draw, you'd better practice getting the gun out of the holster with your weak hand. If the attackers had been determined, we could be watching a very different video.

Due to the publicity surrounding this, the officer's home has been vandalized, pointing out the dangers of residing in metro and suburban areas where this sort of thing is more likely to occur. It also emphasizes the need for having a safe location where you can bug out to for a few days if necessary.

I'm going to try and follow this story and see how it plays out. The outcome for the officer will be an important data point for those of us who might find ourselves caught up in a similar situation in the next few months.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


The National Review is having vapors about the Fourth Circus' decision in Kolbe vs. Hogan, the lawsuit over Maryland's assault weapons ban. Somehow, this strikes me as a bit unusual for that particular publication.

I have not read the entire 116 page decision yet. That much legalese needs a fresh eye and I don't have that right now. The best I can see from reading other's takes is that the 10-4 majority is attempting to take advantage of a hole in the Heller decision. However, there seems to be a dearth of actual written opinion on the decision, which is a little odd.

Even though I'm a little pushed for time, I'll try to wade through this thing and see what I can make of it. If you know of someone with anything useful to say on the subject, leave me a comment, please.

The du Toit...he hath returned

I knew he was coming back Monday, I plead life. Go forth and read. Welcome back, blogfather.

I should read my own blogroll more often

Even when it provides disquieting confirmation that Something Is Up (don't miss the comments). Given Lawdog's day job, you have to take his thoughts seriously.

Being retired has certain perks, one of them being that I get to do things more on my schedule than I did when I was working. Today I went to the barber shop after lunch for an overdue haircut. Another nice thing about being retired is that I don't have to be as concerned about "Did I get a haircut this month?"

At any rate, there are some folks with jobs that allow them similar scheduling flexibility. One of those groups are those who, like Lawdog, work in law enforcement. There are quite a few that frequent my barber. We've all been getting haircuts together for longer than any of us care to admit and as a result, we talk more freely among ourselves than a given group of customers might, even though we may not see each other for months at a time.

At any rate, there's always a TV on, and while I was there, a news story on the pipeline protesters in North Dakota came on. Silly me was under the impression those idiots had left for warmer climes, but no, some of them were hardy enough, or maybe stupid enough, to brave a North Dakota winter in shanties and tents.

As you may have heard, today was the day North Dakota finally decided the remaining idiots were going to be evicted, forcibly if necessary. Watching this event provoked the predictable sorts of comments from the few of us present this morning. One of the attendees is a serving officer in a local PD.

"Boys, we can laugh now, but this summer, you'd better be ready."

Now there's a conversation starter if there ever was one. Someone asks him what he's talking about. It seems he's thinking along the same lines as some of the things I've posted here about civil unrest/civil war, the same things that Michael Bane has talked about when he's discussed "chumming for monsters" and the same thing Lawdog is talking about.

There are entirely too many people thinking along these lines for me to be all warm and fuzzy. When this many people start drawing the same conclusions from a given data set, it's time to pay attention. We may be in for a long, hot summer that exceeds the ones I remember as a kid in the 60s. Those "Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days of Summer" may not be so lazy, just hazy with smoke and way too crazy. Prepare for the worst, hope for the best.

Here's one that's just for fun

Or maybe not.

Yeah, they've got some years and some miles on them, and they're packing some extra poundage. They definitely aren't high speed, low drag.

But they are out there and doing it. So, chairborne commandos, what is your excuse?

Fertilizing those raised beds

One thing that raised beds require is a continual renewal of the soil in order to maintain its fertility. You can pull the old soil out and remix it, but that strikes me as something they call "work". I'm not in favor of that if it can be avoided.

There are also commercial fertilizers, such as the ubiquitous Miracle-Gro. Yes, they work, but they also cost money, and if "something happens", you may not be able to run down to the local big box retailer to get more. But it doesn't hurt to stock up on some in case of an emergency. They can get you through something like an unexpected need to ramp up production by 3 or 4x.

You can use animal manure, but that one you have to be careful with because of parasites and its chemical make up. I'm not going into the details, you can read this if you're interested in the whys and hows.

I'm more in favor of compost tea. There are two variants that I know of, brewed and steeped. (Yes, this sounds a lot like drinkable tea. Some people love to carry analogies a bit further than they should, but we're going to have to go with the flow.) Brewed compost tea requires external inputs such as molasses and air pumps and I'm not going into it here, because I'm looking for cheap, easy and available in a long term emergency. That leaves us with the steeped variety.

Basically, steeped compost tea is really like steeped tea you would drink, except you don't need to boil the water. Get a container, toss in some compost and water, then wait. Use the result to water and fertilize your garden. Eazy peazy.

In reality, it isn't that simple, because you need good compost, which isn't as easy to make as some people think it is. You're also going to make this in large quantities, so we're talking 55 gallon drums, lots of water to deal with, and some way of distributing it. Watering cans work, but if you're watering a lot, you might want a pump and hose, or better yet a gravity fed system if you can work one out.

Obviously, you can spend a lot more than 5 minutes on this, but here's a quick video that will let you dip your toe in the water. Don't do it with the tea, that stuff's yucky.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Back to it

I've been a little lazy doing 5 Minute Prep posts, so you're going to get a twofer today. Here are two videos on a subject near and dear to the heart of everyone I know--eating. We all have to do it, and if you're like my family, you'd like to see your food bill come down and the quality of what you eat go up.

That's possible, but you'll trade time and effort for the convenience of going to a grocery store, because you'll need to start gardening.

I remember my grandma's garden. She lived on the banks of a river in West Virginia, and the soil was black because it had so much organic material in it. I was little, but I remember picking potato bugs off the potatoes and feeding them to the chickens. She raised a lot of her own food, canning it to preserve it for the winter.

She could grow anything, and she did, in big long rows that seemed to go on forever to a kid my age. She had plenty of land to do it with, and the bigger her garden, the less grass she had to mow, so for her, it was a win-win situation. She had out-lived three husbands and I guess she wasn't going to try her luck on #4, so she took care of everything herself.

Today, we've discovered, or perhaps rediscovered would be more accurate, intensive agriculture. It goes by a lot of names, such as "square foot gardening", but at the end of the day every method is simply a play on the same basic concept. Revolving around raised beds, the basic idea is to control the soil, providing the plants a much better growing environment than you would have otherwise. The raised beds allow for better drainage, so over-watering isn't so much an issue. Coupled with season extenders such as portable hoop houses and planting strategies such as succession planting, an experienced gardener can grow an amazing amount of food in an amazing small space.

The first video serves as a quick introduction to raised beds, while the second video takes you a little further into the subject. There are a ton of books on the subject, with the first one you should read probably being Mel Bartholomew's "All New Square Foot Gardening II: The Revolutionary Way to Grow More in Less Space". Mel popularized the subject, but as you'll see if you watch either video, the world has taken off with it. There are hours of YouTube videos, several Facebook groups, email reflectors and so on devoted to the subject.

Even if you are stuck with a tiny yard, you can still raise a lot of your own food. If you live on an acre, you can probably be nearly self-sufficient in terms of veggies if you want to. I would hazard a guess that with perhaps as few as 3 and almost surely on 5 acres, you could raise all the food, including meat, that you would need. Beef would be a bit difficult, but I think with 5 acres it could be done. (Think  Dexter cattle.)

Without further ado, here are the videos.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I have got to close some of these browser tabs

I've been keeping these open, planning on writing something long and likely overly pedantic about them. Lucky you, I've been busy (early spring, huzzah!), so you're getting them short form.

A thread from that will allow you to date your M1A if your serial number is 000001-100000. Handy if you own an M1A in this serial number range. Unfortunately the link to serail numbers above this range no longer works, and the Wayback Machine doesn't have a copy of it.

A treatise on "Why You Should Read Classic Literature" from Men of the West. Short version--Hollywood lies. I'm sure you're as shocked as I am about that piece of news. Also a very interesting and wide-ranging site; I've added them to the blogroll. Be prepared to spend a lot of time there....

From Deep Code, it's "Situational Assessment 2017: Trump Edition".  Another view of the phenomena that is Donald Trump and his election to the Presidency. Deep Code is another site you can get lost in, but I'm less sanguine about making them a permanent link. They're on Medium, and as far as I'm concerned, Medium is...suspect.

How to build and train your own personal bullshit detector. One of the more useful personal skills I can think of. Consider subscribing to Charles Chu's Open Circle. I find at least one thing of value every week. Yes it's on Medium, and Medium's suspect. I still find it useful.

Finally, a really fun piece to read, "Shoving Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals Right Back in the Left’s Ugly Face". Yes, we're still having some schadenfreude over the election, but the main point is something that I've been saying for a while--Alinski's rules work for anyone and in any direction. I'm not one to believe in this "lowering yourself to their level" line of BS. If you have to wrestle with a pig, you have to get down in the mud.

OK, tabs cleared for now. Carry on.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Motion sensors on a budget

I think we all love to hate Harbor Freight, but you can score some great deals on useful things.  To whit:

This shows up on the Harbor Freight site under 3 different catalog numbers, but they appear to all be the same product.  It isn't specified how far away or in what arc it can "see motion", but the unit uses 433 MHz to transmit to it's base with a quoted range of up to 400'. You'll need 1 9v and 3 C cell batteries, which means in a grid down scenario you'll need a lot of spare lithium ion batteries and ways to charge them.

Cheap way to stretch your sentries.

A bleg

Not for me, but for someone you may remember, Kim Du Toit.

Kim is the reason I'm here. Kim ran a blog way back when, one of the first ones I read regularly. He was brash and outspoken, and because he blogged under his real name, he paid a price for that in terms of jobs and opportunities lost.

I heard a while back that Kim's beloved wife Connie had cancer, and that there was not going to be a happy ending. In looking for something else earlier today, I found out from WeaponsMan that Connie has passed from this life. Kim, if you ever read his blog, is devastated, because he really loved Connie. However, he's also a realist, and is setting out to rebuild his life without her. That's got to be all kinds of hard.

If you've never been around a prolonged medical battle, let me tell you that the devastation is not only mental and physical, but financial. Kim is facing all of those. We can't do much for him mentally or physically, but we can toss some coin in the digital hat for him at his GoFundMe. As WeaponsMan notes, he's got some very generous friends, but everything helps. In my current situation, I can't do as much as I'd like, but all of us working together can.

Can you help an OG gun blogger? I have.