Sunday, June 23, 2019

Prepping as you age-an update

I never really understood the saying "Getting old ain't for sissies" until the last 3 years or so.

Older friends always told me that you just "fall apart" at 40. I didn't - for me it was 42, when I completed screwing up an already partially screwed up back, trying to take care of an invalid parent without the proper knowledge. I managed to take an existing condition that was kept in control by a rigorous exercise regimen and turn it into a chronic issue by pinching the crap out of the sciatic nerve on the left side of my back.

Years of chiropractic work has kept me out of the hands of a neurosurgeon. My Dad had 3 back surgeries during his life, and having seen how ell that worked out for him I have no interest in experiencing it firsthand. Yes, I know that techniques improve with time, but until I absolutely have to, I'm not going there. 

Fortunately, while this curtailed some of my physical abilities, I've been able to work around it. It's amazing what you can do with power equipment when you can't do it any longer with muscle. You could say that was...

Lesson One: Buy tools that lessen your reliance on brute force, learn to use them and then USE THEM!

Four wheelers, trailers, come-alongs, log splitters, cant hooks and all the rest of are worth their weight in the gold as you age. They multiply your effort while reducing the risk over overworking your aging body parts. However, you have to be disciplined in their use, and actually use them every time you should. No shortcuts because "it's just a little word I need to split".

Tools to lessen your reliance on brute force are only the beginning. As you age further, you're going to need other tools because the problem becomes an inability to do what you could when you were younger. For me, it was when I couldn't focus on the front sight of a pistol. Never having been the greatest pistol shot in the world, I was lucky to hit the paper. So...

Lesson Two: Don't be afraid to fix your body.

I went to a local eye doc who has worked on a number of well-known local folks, artists and the like, and these folks endorse his work. After discussing it several times over a period of years, I finally cozied up to the concept of LASIK. After a bit of a rocky start (you don't heal as well as you age, and I had some initial eye irritation issues because of it), it has been a game changer. We opted for a monovision procedure because my particular issue, presbyopia, simply isn't curable. As the doc put it, "The man who develops a cure for that will die very rich." However, I am no longer reliant on glasses to function during the day. I can wear normal sunglasses, which has been a boon to the treatment of my migraines. Oakley Fuel Cells are my goto, and they're as dark as I can find without wearing a welding helmet.

I do need magnification for close work. I have cheap magnifier glasses with one lens removed, a magnifying head set, a Luxo magnifier and a microscope (actually they're cameras with some serious macro lenses) I can hook up to a PC so I can see tiny things very large. Those tools allow me to do work I used to do unaided. Without them, I simply couldn't do some very simple things, like threading a needle.

And yes, I realize that I'm in conflict with Lesson Two when it concerns my back. I refused to be hobgoblined by consistency. :-)

My experience with Lesson Two leads me to...

Lesson Three: Don't be afraid to use "adaptive technologies". 

The items I named in Lesson Two, along with tweaks to computer video settings, the use of closed captioning (there should be a special hell for those idiots who have stupidly wide dynamic ranges on TV shows), laser and red dot sights on firearms and all the other tools that fall under the umbrella of "adaptive technologies" will improve your daily quality of life and allow you to continue doing the things you need to do in order to be self-sufficient and prepared.

Yes, all of this costs money. However, you have to figure out how to make them happen or face limits that you won't like. At all.

However, there came a time when a bodily system fails and simply can't be fixed. For me it was my thyroid gland, which apparently started giving me issues in my 30s and 40s. Neither my doc at the time nor I caught onto the problem; we just saw the symptoms and I "need to lose weight and work on that cholesterol". Eventually 2 + 2 was determined to be 4, and I went on levothyroxine, otherwise known as synthetic thyroid hormone. We still have to manipulate the dose from time to time, but with it, I can function within a standard deviation or so of normal. Without it, it won't be long before I literally don't have enough energy to get through a day's work. That gives us...

Lesson Four: The time will come when there's a problem that puts hard limits on your survivability in a long-term survival scenario. Try to be graceful when dealing with it.

I wasn't graceful at first. Not even a little. My body had let me down and I was pissed. Like many, I never really considered getting old and all the things that would mean until it slapped me in the face. To say it was an uncomfortable wake up call is putting it lightly. However, I'm stuck needing something that requires a functioning, high tech civilization to produce.

The thyroid hasn't been the only thing. While I can't prove it, I believe the onset of migraine headaches has something to do with it. I can go back into my early 20s and identify the very first migraine I ever had - now that I know what I'm looking for - but they really went off the charts about the time my thyroid took the last train for the coast. After years of effort, the past year brought 3 drugs to market that are specifically aimed at controlling migraine. I'm on one of them, plus Botox and a couple of the older drugs that weren't specifically for migraine. So every 3 months I get a load of toxin injected into 33 sites around my head and shoulders, and once a month I dose myself with a batch of monoclonal antibodies. As long as I do that, I have about 4 episodes per month, as opposed to the 20-25 I had before we found the Magic Drug Regimen (MDR).

Trust me when I tell you that I've been far more graceful, as well as grateful, for the MDR.

Sidebar: Migraine sufferers, there is hope. Get a good neurologist who specializes in headache disorders and get help. I put this out there specifically because the sufferers of headache disorders are four times more likely to commit suicide that the normal population. And for those who suffer cluster headaches (which makes migraine look easy), help is around the corner. Testing is showing that those 3 drugs work on cluster headaches as well. Hang in there a little longer. Help's on the way.

I've made my peace with the knowledge that, in a long-term survival scenario, I will be one who dies off in the first year. So will Mrs. Freeholder, who has her own issues. It is what it is.

In some ways, this has made prepping easier. When you draw your line at surviving the "everyday disasters" such as job loss, tornadoes/hurricanes and the like, there are a lot of prepping activities you simply don't need to do and things you don't need as much of. You time and money, things in increasing short supply as you age.

I'm still concerned about the longer term things, such as civil war and economic collapse, but I now think of them in terms of my children's and presumed grandkids' survival. As a part of a general downsizing, I'm handing out some of the tools, equipment and stores that I've accumulated. I try to teach without being preachy (and occasionally succeed). But I realize that that's all I can do. I won't be the old guy in the doomer porn stories who is the font of wisdom to those less prepared. At least, I won't be for long. :-)

Aging is an inevitable part of life, if you're lucky. So far, I'm lucky. Since I expect I won't survive a TEOTWAWKI-type disaster, I can now free up some of the time and money I used to spend on the subject on other things that make my life more enjoyable and pleasant. I won't stop and I won't fade away, but I will change because I must.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The twisty story of "right to repair"

If you buy something, let's say a pickup truck, you would expect to be able to work on it yourself. However many control modules, CAN bus and so on aside, you'd expect to be able to change a flat tire or change your oil. You might even expect to be able to replace spark plugs, or buy a code reader in order to find out why the "Check Engine" light was on. Again.

Try that with a piece of John Deere equipment built since 2016. Or your iThing. Or a lot of other products out there. Companies are trying all sorts of less-than-righteous moves to lock you into their all-important services business. That's because service is where the real money is at. Ask software companies how much money they make from "software as a service" - it's a lot. Companies like Deere want in on that gravy train.

The Right to Repair movement is pushing back and has been for a while. (That link is just one of many you can find.) Ars Technica has an article that pretty much covers the current status of it.

This is important stuff. Imagine how things would be if you had to call an authorized repair dood every time something in your life acted up or broke. You'd soon be the one broke.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

The mask is indeed off

An Illinois Democrat state senator, who I refuse to give publicity by naming, was needled into saying what she really thinks about gun ownership.

"Maybe we won’t have a fine at all, maybe it’ll just be a confiscation and we won’t have to worry about paying the fine."

I'm seeing more and more rhetoric from the Left that indicates they think a civil war is a fine idea, and they're going to keep pushing until whatever line that ends up provoking one is crossed. They have no conception of what they're asking for, because for most of them life is some sort of video game, and for the rest they believe their status will protect them.

History shows otherwise.

Senior prepping

I've touched on the concept of prepping as you age several times, and I need to do it again soon. However, over at they have a "prepping in your Golden Years" post you can read now. None of it's new to me, but if you're just starting to think about this, it's worthwhile.

Sunday, June 16, 2019


Yeah, there are a bunch of tags on this one. I could toss in some more, but what they heck.

In case you haven't seen it, mostly because the main stream media has got a case of the "silent" on the subject, Ebola is a thing in Africa, again. It started in the former Belgian Congo and has spread, by way of a family who knew they were infected and ran anyway, to Uganda. It is about *this far* from spreading off that continent, with this far being defined as *How close is the closest international airport?"

While we're a long way from it at the moment, so far as we know we're a 14 hour international flight away from our first case in North America. Of course, the bearer of that glad news could be deplaning in NYC right now. Or they could be wading the Rio Grande. Or coming overland from Canada. Or Joey Jihadi who has deliberately been infected and sent to America to cough on as many people as he can.

I'm not going to do the daily duty of trying to keep you posted on this. However, I've finally read enough that I'm Officially Concerned (pity the WHO and CDC aren't), and I'm going to point you to Aesop, of the Raconteur Report, who is doing the thankless task with more knowledge and flair that I ever could. Save that link, since it searches by tag and will always have the newest stuff at the top.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


I'm catching up on my email, among which are copies of the Tactical Wire for Jun 11 and the Shooting Wire for June 12. While each are always interesting in total, the editorial content at the end of each is spectacular and thought-provoking.

The bankruptcy filing of SportCo earlier this week has had tongues wagging all about the Intertubz, since SportCo claims they went bankrupt because they made a bet on the Hildebeast winning the 2016 election, which she didn't. Leftists and gungrabbers all loved the concept and just the simple fact that a major retailer of firearms and a major distributor of firearms would be dead.

Well, like the man said, you ain't seen nothing yet. According to those Wire articles I linked above, lawsuits have been filed against SportCo in South Carolina, alleging the owners, various hangers on and John Does 1-100 effectively plundered the company. To make matters worse, this will wind up not as a Chapter 11 bankruptcy (reorganization) but a Chapter 7 bankruptcy (liquidation). You'll want to read them both, and I'd subscribe so you can see what Jim Shephard releases next.

You get the chairs and I'll start the popcorn popping. This may be the biggest scandal to rock the firearms industry and one of the biggest fraud scandals in a long time. As Jim points out, there is also going to be a lot of second-nth level fallout from this, so watch your favorite manufacturers. We may all need to do a little shopping with them to lend a hand with those bottom lines.

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Again, we remember the "day of days"

This year is the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We often call it "Operation Overlord", but technically that was the name of the overall battle plan for the invasion of Normandy. The D-Day landings themselves are more correctly referred to as "Operation Neptune". I doubt the men who parachuted in the night of June 5/6 or the men who charged ashore from landing boats really cared much for the distinction. They had a job to do, and do it they did. By the end of the day the Allies were in France and were going nowhere but east, toward Nazi Germany.

Reading about the commemorative events taking place both in the UK and France (as wishing I could be there), I'm struck at the age of the men who were there on that day. All in their mid- to late 90s.  Old, stooped and needing assistance to move around, the same will that saw them through D-Day carries them still.

As I've said before, I was raised by a veteran of WWII. Dad wasn't there for D-Day, but he was there for the end of the Battle of the Bulge and for the crossing of the Rhine at Remagen. He was in Co. B, 27th Armored Infantry Regiment, 9th Armored Division. His company was the second across the bridge, A Company being the first.

Dad, like so many of the men who saved Europe from itself, is gone over 8 years now. So are all of his friends from the war as far as I know. Those we see in Normandy now are the rear guard, fighting their final battle against mortality.

Having been raised by a man and men who fought in the war, having known people who lost sons in that war, I find it extraordinarily difficult to accept a world without those men in it. However, in a decade, perhaps a bit more, that will be where I find myself.

We are less without these men walking among us. We should strive to be worthy of their sacrifices, made when they were young, with entire lives ahead of them. Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice, and remain young to this day.

We live in a time when war is an unknown to 99% of our population. That's probably a Bad Thing, since those who know war firsthand seem least likely to send men into that particular hell without a damn good reason. I suspect that soon, the lessons of the past will again be forgotten and we will find ourselves consigning our sons, and this time our daughters, into the maw of the beast. Conflict seems to be hardwired into us as a species, and we've never been one to learn from history.

For now, however, remember these brave men. Gaze upon these pictures at the Denver Post, and see what they saw. And pray that our children never have to see it outside pictures.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

Everyone else is linking it

So I may as well jump on the bandwagon.

The Surprisingly Solid Mathematical Case of the Tin Foil Hat Gun Prepper

It's pretty amazing to see it in mathematical terms, but the ugly truth of humanity is that we're always at war with someone, somewhere. Conflict is seeming baked into our cake. And only fools ignore reality, while reality doesn't ignore them.

The Triffin dilemma

(Via James Howard Kunstler)

Why the US balance of accounts stubbornly stays out of balance.

There are constant rumblings that China et al want to dethrone the dollar as the global reserve currency. Maybe we should let them.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Celebrating Ralph Johnson

One of those men was Ralph Johnson, who died in Vietnam saving his fellow Marines.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Get 'em while you can

Because Your Old Time Bookstore is closing down on 5/31/19. If you want any of the old Lindsay's books, beat a path to their website now.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Idiocracy was supposed to be a movie

Not a documentary.

"IQ rates are dropping in many developed countries and that doesn't bode well for humanity"

No precise reason for this, but the timing is curious. When this started happening is, oddly enough, about the same time the nations named in the article started experiencing increased immigration from Third World countries.

Nah. Couldn't have anything to do with it.

Monday, May 20, 2019


Millennials have gotten a pretty harsh rap lately. Unfortunately, far too many of them are self-absorbed, spoiled by their parents, ill-tempered, entitled and by my standards, whiney little assholes.

However, they aren't all that way. I worked hard to be sure my two aren't. Son has a good job, makes good money, has his own living accommodations and generally, aside from the ink, seems to someone of my generation to be perfectly normal for his age.

Daughter has a good job (with a recent promotion), is married and she and her husband (along with the bank) own their own home. While she will millennial a bit from time to time, she also seems to someone of my generation to be perfectly normal for her age. This young lady apparently is much the same. I particularly love this part:

We live in the most privileged time in the most prosperous nation and we’ve become completely blind to it. Vehicles, food, technology, freedom to associate with whom we choose. These things are so ingrained in our American way of life we don’t give them a second thought. We are so well off here in the United States that our poverty line begins 31 times above the global average. Thirty. One. Times. Virtually no one in the United States is considered poor by global standards. Yet, in a time where we can order a product off Amazon with one click and have it at our doorstep the next day, we are unappreciative, unsatisfied, and ungrateful.

She's right. We live in a time where a lot of things I read about in science fiction have become real. (I'm still waiting on my flying car, though.) We do live in a time and place of unprecedented prosperity, and far too many, in her generation and others, are too busy being envious, offended and outraged to realize it.

Edit, 5/21: Sorry about the bizarre formatting, which I've repaired. Google wins again.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Old vs. New

(I believe I got the article that is subjecting you to this post via the Woodpile Report.)

Last October, I did something I've wanted to do for over 20 years--I bought a pickup truck. Before anyone reminds me that it wasn't so long ago I was lamenting how retirement constrains one's purchasing power, thank you, I got the memo from Mrs. Freeholder first.

However, I did not go into debt for this purchase. I spent some of what remains of my inheritance. Rather than gracing some dealer with $50k plus for one of their over-blown, over-gadgeted new trucks, I bought someone's Dad's truck--a 2001 GMC with "only" 149,000 miles on the odometer. So it's more like a "new-to-me" truck.

Mrs. Freeholder often jokes about one of my Dad's favorite sayings--"It's just more stuff to break." I believe I first heard this in 1973 when asking why our new car didn't have such niceties as power windows or power locks. In those days, he was much closer to right than wrong. I can remember an uncle's vehicle that spent more time at the dealer's than in his driveway because the power windows refused to work more than occasionally. After the warranty was out, he sold the car and bought something without all the power-this-and-that's. "Less stuff to break," was the way I believe he put it.

Times do change and the quality of things improves. I owned a 1998 Olds Intrigue that was one of the 3 best vehicles I ever owned. In 14 years and 250,000 miles, the grand total of things that had to be replaced (other than wear and maintenance items) was a starter and a power steering rack. The power windows and locks worked just fine the last time I coasted to a stop with a dead transaxle.

Compare that to its replacement, a 2011 Subaru Outback. What a turd. Blessed with a Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT) and a torque converter that could crap out never or in the next 15 minutes, I wish I'd never bought the thing. While my Olds was under one recall, this thing has been recalled for everything from its puddle lights to the infamous Takata exploding airbag initiators, which I was told that it didn't have until it did. While I have to give credit where its due and state that it has never stranded me and never broken down-plus the power windows and locks still work-I have little confidence that it will see 250,000 miles before something drastic happens to it. It's going to get sold sometime soon, which will more than pay for the pickup and the various things I've done to it so far.

Why did I buy an older truck? Partly because it cost roughly 1/10 of what a new truck would have cost, even if I payed cash for it. More important was the lack of complexity when compared to a new truck. No "Advanced Fuel Management".  Half (or less) of the "control modules". No CAN bus. An engine (the 5.3 l) and transmission (4L60E) that are about as thoroughly debugged as it's possible for something automotive to be. Steel (even if it is thin) rather than aluminum body panels. Excessively well supported by the aftermarket. Still relatively capable of being worked on under a shade tree. All the things Detroit's newest aren't.

Evidence seems to point to the concept that I'm not the only one who is effectively writing off new vehicles. Price used cars and especially used trucks. They're going for far more than you'd expect as long as they are known to be reliable.

Oddly enough, one of the most maligned (with good reason) car companies has figured out that people aren't totally enamored with the "latest and greatest". Dodge is still selling-and selling well-their "Classic Ram", a pickup that is mostly 2009-ish technology.

As noted in that article, a lot of the techno-wizardry in new vehicles is simply to keep the government and the greenies off their back while their engineers desperately try to violate the laws of physics and the marketplace so they can keep selling any vehicles at all.

Yeah, this isn't going to end well. Undetermined yet is for who.

I've done some upgrades to the truck. First I stripped out nearly every light in it and replaced them with LEDs. I still have to figure out how to deal with the high beams-it's a physical space issue. I had a Line-X bedliner shot in. I've changed half the fluids to synthetics and will get the rest as maintenance intervals roll around. I've done brake jobs, front and rear. I'll be replacing the stereo and adding in a ham band mobile. It needs some cosmetic love.

What I'm not doing is adding in things that cause more complexity than they worth--there is no Tire Pressure Monitoring System in my future, for example. I own several perfectly good tire pressure gauges and I'm not afraid to use them. It had three 12v sockets, two of which now have USB chargers. I'll add the optional backup camera to the stereo.

Plus I added a toolbox and customized it.

Not bad for a $100 toolbox, huh?

Monday, May 13, 2019

Obviously, you want to be a Rooftop Korean

(Via Kim Du Toit at Splendid Isolation)

Kurt Schlichter at Town Hall urges us all to be "Rooftop Koreans". I would imagine that 90% of the audience here is already prepared to take that advice.

While I enjoyed and agree with his point, some of the other stuff in his article was much more interesting. To wit:

The decent people of LA were terrified, and with good reason. See, the dirty little secret of civilization is that it’s designed to maintain order when 99.9% of folks are orderly. But, say, if just 2% of folks stop playing by the rules…uh oh. Say LA’s population was 15 million in 1992…that’s 300,000 bad guys. There were maybe 20,000 cops in all the area agencies then, plus 20,000 National Guard soldiers and airman, plus another 10,000 active soldiers and Marines the feds brought in. Law enforcement is based on the concept that most people will behave and that the crooks will be overwhelmed by sheer numbers of officers. But in the LA riots, law enforcement was massively outnumbered. Imposing order took time.

Yeah. Sleep well and pray for the health and safety of that 99.9%. And be prepared if that 2% decides to come visit.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

But how do you know if the meat's good?

(Via The Woodpile Report, which should to be a weekly read.)

So you've shot Bambi and it's time to part him out. What to watch for to ensure the meat is edible.

FYI, I pulled my copy of "Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game" by John J. Mettler, Jr. DVM and there is far less information on the subject in that book that there is in this article. A word to the wise....

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Let's stray off into a new area

It's the early 70s, and pornography is restricted to bad theaters patronized by "bad people".

Then some guy who just wants to make a film - any film - manages to get the monetary backing of friends to make a porn film. The film he makes winds up bringing to light some of the least appealing features of America, and not in the way you'd think.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

14 and a half minues of truth

Time to return to politics.

Watch it. This guy, at what appears to be a fairly young age, apparently has a better bead on the reality of current life in the US than 99% of his fellow citizens, no matter their age.

You think he's wrong? Then come up with concrete examples to prove your point.

The land of the free and the home of the brave is well on its way to becoming the land of the free lunch and the home of the slave. The shadowy "Powers That Be" are playing us, left, right and center, for their own ends. You know what the end game is? They run everything through their bully boys. Antifa, right wing militia, cops, military - all serve the same unseen masters. Most of them don't know it, that's because they have and cherish their illusion of freedom.

But if these people win, you can kiss even an illusion of freedom goodbye. You'll not be free and neither will your children, or your grandchildren, or probably their grandchildren.

If you think you're free, try to do something a really free person would do. No one likes taxes and we know the money is almost totally wasted, so stop paying them. Just be ready for that visit from the IRS. Try driving without a license, insurance or license plate and see how far you get. Don't pay your property taxes. Exercise your free speech rights in the wrong place. Go to a city council meeting and try to get your grievances addressed.

Don't buy health insurance and see how that goes.

I've long advocated that whatever a politician says is a lie. I don't care what party they claim to be from, because they're all the same. Sure the rhetoric is different between Party D and Party R, but pay careful attention to what happens after either gets themselves bellied up to the trough elected. They may go about it in slightly different ways, but they both wind up doing the same old shit - making government bigger, more expensive and more intrusive. Day by day, year by year, the freedoms that you are born with die the death of a thousand cuts. By design.

Many folks, me included, worked to put President Donald Trump in office. He's the ultimate outsider, having never been elected to any office before. He's too rich to be bought. He's too used to power to get seduced by it. We elected him to go to Washington, kick ass and take names. So what happens? One side loses it's fucking mind and is trying every trick they can think of to lessen his effectiveness and somehow, some way, run him out of office and into a prison cell. The other side, supposedly his own people, are only slightly less against him. They're willing to take a pass on the whole prison thing. Generous, aren't they?

While this is going on, we're all being seduced by media talking heads, who nothing more than sock puppets, babbling out whatever idiocy and lies their handlers want today. The same goes for the "entertainment industry", who know they can be blackballed with a phone call or a story on TMZ. They're more than happy to be good little useful idiots, because that's how they get the money, the big houses, the expensive cars and the constant ego stroking they need.

Then we have "the poor". Poor people who eat better and have more material goods than any poor people in history. Poor people who can be reliably counted on for their votes to certain candidates. While the real poor, those who could use a hand up, are ignored or worse yet, played as patsies for the media, because they live in the wrong place, have some pride left and reuse help, are the wrong color or religion or citizenship, are left out in the cold.

And if the poor can't vote them in, we'll give the vote to felons in prison and raise the dead. We'll count and recount and re-recount until we get the right answer.

Oh yes, I'm angry. But this isn't that hot-blooded anger that leads you into doing stupid things. (Although some would say that even saying this in public is being stupid. Be gray, man.) This is the slow, simmering anger that bides its time. I know that ChuckE and I aren't the only ones, because I run into them everywhere I go. There are so many of them that it's scary. There is a mass of people out there who are just waiting for that last straw.

When that camel's back breaks, all hell is going to break out with it.

Edit 4/23/2019: I swear, Google could screw up, well you know. I've put the link to the Patriot Nurse on the healthcare penalty back in. Let's see if it stays.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Antenna coupling

Figure 1, Figuring out where the damn antennas are going to go.
Radios require antennas, and unless you're blessed with a decent acreage, lots of money and an understanding spouse, there's limited room to put them up. As things currently stand, I have a 6m-2m-70cm beam already up. I want to put up one or more wire antennas for HF use. I also need a receive-only antenna for my scanner(s).

I also need to keep in mind that I also need for a spot to mount a WeatherFlow weather station.

Without a tower (expressly forbidden by Mrs. Freeholder) and given the wooded nature of our back yard, the house itself is the logical place to mount all of them save for the HF wire(s). This also serves to keep the cabling short.

For the scanners, I'm going with a wideband discone antenna. It's relatively small and this one is relatively visually unobtrusive. I like that with my antennas, given that there are a lot of them around here.

But where does that discone go?

I've considered just getting a 20' TV mast and mounting it on the back of the house, but I can't find those any more. The longest I've found so far are 9', but you can stack them. I've found 10' non-stackable masts. I've also found a lot of telescoping masts of various lengths, but those cost more than my budget wants to allow. I'd like to use things I have on hand. That means the front runners for this method are:
  • Use the two 9' lengths of 3/4 galvanized pipe I have laying around, connected with a coupling and mounting it on the back of the house. This would probably leave me a bit short of the needed height.
  • Get another gable-end mount and put it at the opposite end of the house from the existing beam. That gable is 2 stories in the air. I have a ladder that should reach it, but my days of hanging on a ladder that far up are probably over. I'll likely need to rent a lift. There goes the budget.
I've also considered mounting it on a 5' mast extension over the beam. It would be simple and I have the stuff to do it. Being a discone, it's omni-directional, so which way the beam points isn't an issue for it. But when looking into how far the two antennas needed to be separated, the subject of "antenna coupling" comes up.

Based on what I've found so far, this shit is dark magic it's a complicated subject. I'm still working on it, but so far here are the bullet points:
  • If you have more than one antenna, you need to consider the issue of antenna coupling. It becomes more important if you have multiple antennas connected to multiple transmitting radios at the same time, and even more important if the antennas are resonant on the same frequency or harmonics of the frequency in use. A lot of people don't take this issue into consideration, and some of them blow up equipment. It appears to be rare, but it happens.
  • Antenna coupling causes two main problems: Desensitization and receiver overload. Of the two, the protection of your receiver(s) is much more important. You can physically damage a receiver when a very large amount of signal comes in through an antenna.
  • Horizontal and vertical separation are important. Incredibly rough rule of thumb is that you need to be at least one wavelength away in all directions from the neighboring antennas but more is better. You may be able to get away with less than one wavelength as long as it isn't a harmonic of the wavelength. More separation is always better.
  • Higher frequencies cause more trouble than lower frequencies.
  • There are on-line calculators that will give you the necessary vertical and horizontal separation of your antennas. Unfortunately, these assume omnidirectional antennas.
  • Unless you are operating at very high power, VHF/UHF and HF antennas exhibit little coupling as long as you keep then reasonably separated.
  • There are no perfect solutions.
I'm working on the assumption (oh-oh) that the only two antennas I need to be concerned with are the 6m-2m-70cm beam and the discone. 2 meters is uncomfortably close to the VHF public service bands.

I've found the following useful in this research:
And believe it or not, I've found something on a ham forum that I think is useful.
I like this concept. Doing so may show that the difference between the Real World and Theory World are enough to solve my problem for me. Unless it gets worse once I do the modeling.

But after all that, what if there is still no clear answer to the question "Where do I mount the discone and the weather station?" Given that I've ruled out almost every possible location, I'm thinking it has to go on the side gable over the driveway, expense be hanged. That leaves the back gable as a place for the weather station, using a gable-mount mast mount and a TV antenna mast. Done correctly, this gives me the largest possible physical separation of the two antennas that are my main concern.

This solution will cause me some grief down the road if I ever want to mount another antenna, but I don't see any realistic options.

An idea I'm toying with is to keep every antenna that's not in use disconnected and grounded. Operate on one radio/frequency at a time. Scanner is disconnected when running 2m. That should pretty much cure the location problem since only a single antenna would be in active use at any given time, and it has the benefit of being budget friendly. It also addresses the issue of lighting, something that is always present. Even if it isn't a final solution, it gets me past this hump and gets the antennas up.

I should have gotten a simpler hobby. :-)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Our Lady is burning

Notre Dame is burning. 850 years of history and art are gone. Reports from the scene say that "It is all burning." Firefighters are trying to save any art they can. The Ile de la Cité is being evacuated. No word yet on the cause of the fire.

Current drop vs. voltage drop

In doing a bit of looking relating to B's correction to my earlier article, I ran into this video.

Interesting and yes, I'm buying a copy of his book.

"In the real world, of course, everything is an oversimplification."

I love that.

So, about those expiration dates on your meds

Dr. Joe Alton on using meds after their expiration dates.

Obviously there's more to it than what can be covered in 6+ minutes, so some other sources for you to take a look at:
Unfortunately, the actual website of the Shelf Life Extension Program requires a login. And their security cert is bolloxed up. :-)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

It's all about the voltage drop

Most people, if they have half a brain, will check what wire size is needed to carry a given ampacity before they start hooking up stuff. It's important if you're wiring a building and important if you're wiring electronic equipment. You don't want things you value to burn down or up.

Unfortunately, an ampacity table, while easy to find with a quick Intertubz search, doesn't tell the entire story. While researching why a small 2 meter amplifier I recently purchased called for 10 gauge wire "for a short run" or 8 gauge wire "for longer runs" for a maximum current draw of 345 watts, I kept finding various notes on solid vs. stranded wire and "current drop".

So I did my own research, and I feel pretty confident with what I'm going to present. Think of these as rules of thumb, and remember you should always check the numbers yourselves.

In 3 bullet points:
  • Resistance in ohms per 1000' of wire generally decreases as the wire gauge goes up and the wire goes from a single solid conductor to multiple strands. Not always, but generally.
  • When sizing wire for a given voltage draw, normal ampacity tables have simplified things down to the point where their accuracy needs to be in question. Compare this table with the one from the previous bullet point. This table uses a large amount of fudge factor, so based on something in the next bullet point, you may be buying a lot more expensive copper than you need. Or not. You have to do the math. Every time.
  • The correct way to size your wire is to look at the voltage loss for the particular type of wire and its application. The "acceptable range" for current drop is generally said to be 3-4%. So once you know the volts and amps that need to be delivered to a device, it's relatively simple to use this formula to determine if a given wire will work over a specified run. That formula is:

    ((Rw * 2l * .001) + 2k) * A = Vd

    Rw = the 1,000 foot resistive value
    l = Overall length of the cable assembly (include your connectors)
    k = resistive value for one fuse and its holder, conservatively 0.002 ohms
    A = Peak current draw in amps
    Vd = Cable assembly voltage drop

    (This formula, along with a master class on all varieties of wiring for amateur radio, can be found at the web site of K0BG. The entire site is a great resource, not just for the mobile operators it's aimed at, but all hams.)
Let's put this into practice using my situation as the example.

As noted before, the product manual says to use 8 or 10 gauge wire. The problem, as I originally saw it, was with the connector on the amplifier. It's known as a Clinch-Jones connector, but a picture is worth a thousand words.:
Click to embigginate
For reference, that wire is 10 gauge. The lugs measure 0.143"/3.64 mm, and there are 4 of them. You're seeing the two in the vertical orientation; there are two more that are horizontal. One set positive, one negative, and you need to connect your wiring to both lugs in a pair.

Can this be done? Sure, but I think you're running a sizeable risk of damaging the connector with the necessary heat. I considered using quick disconnects, but I can't find any that fit 10 gauge wire and lugs that small.

So I started looking at it from the standpoint of "Do I really need that much wire for 345 watts?" Look at the power cord for a 1500 watt electric heater - that wire is nowhere near 10 gauge - it's more like 16 or 18 gauge.

So let's put all down. I need to provide 13.8 volts DC @ 22 amps, per the amplifier manual. A 3% voltage drop is 0.414 volts; a 4% drop is 0.552 volts. Our acceptable range for Vd:  0.414 - 0.552. I want to use 200oC silicone insulated all-copper wire. 

An immediate problem popped up. The wire vendor I'm looking at doesn't provide resistance values. I'm using values from here, using the closest wire they have to the 14 gauge I'm considering using. (I'd use their wire if I could, if only because they provide full information, but they appear to be an industrial supplier.) The required length is 6' and I'm using 22 amps as called for in the manual.

For 14 gauge wire, it's

((2.99 * 2(6) * .001) + 2(.002) * 22 = Vd, or 0.88 - not nearly good enough.
For 12 gauge wire, it's

((1.6 * 2(6) * .001) + 2(.002) * 22 = Vd, or 0.51 - We have a winner!

Of course, I could give the 10 gauge a try, just to see

((1.1 * 2(6) * .001) + 2(.002) * 22 = Vd, or 0.38 - at the other end of the acceptable range.

So 12 gauge stranded copper it will be. Now for how I'm going to make the connections - back to research!

Edit, 4/15/2019: Once again, something generated a lot of messed up HTML and the math for the wire gauges I looked at was blanked out. Fixed it.

In the comments, B points out that this is actually voltage drop, and he's correct. I used the term "current drop" because that is what the majority of links I found called it and I wanted to stay with the common term, even if inaccurate. But he's right, and  after thinking about it I'm going to change it to the correct terminology in the title and the bullet points. Accuracy is more important than keeping Google's search results happy. I'm leaving it in the body where I refer to how this information was originally found.

Edit, 4/18/2019:You might also wish to read "Current drop vs. voltage drop".

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

beep, beep, beep

Since my retirement, I've to some extent allowed myself to return to my body's preferred schedule-night owl. I've been one since I was a teenager, only being an "early to bed, early to rise" type because the need to eat forced me into it.

But this morning I hit the bed early, around 1 AM. 20 minutes later, I've just slipped away and...

beep, beep, beep

When you've worked in IT for an entire career, you recognize the sound of a UPS alarming when it goes on battery like you recognize your face in the mirror. I have a lot of UPSes in the house. Computers, our "big TV", on the house network gear, and my hand-held radio chargers all have a UPS. You do this when you have power that is...questionable at times. Every brand has a similar but distinct alarm, and there are 3 different brands in my house. If the power goes out, they all start vying for attention. So it's more like

beep, meep, squeak

I gave it a minute. We're on an EMC (Electric Member Cooperative) and "power flips" are nothing new. So are outages of less than 60 seconds. But if it isn't back on in a minute or two, these things can go for hours.

I start hearing the *click* sound a UPS makes when switching from line to battery or vice versa. It goes back and forth several times. Somewhere out in the dark, reclosers are trying to bring the power back on. So now it's...

*click* *click* beep, meep, squeak, beep, meep, squeak, beep, meep, squeak

My mind supplies the sounds of the rest of them, located in the basement and beyond hearing.

*click* *click* *click* *click* *click* beep, beep, beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, beep, beep, beep, meep, squeak, beep, beep, beep, beep, meep, squeak.

It gets noisy here at The Freehold when the power goes out. What's worse, these things are like The Terminator. They won't shut up until shut down or the power returns.

So I grumble, get up and walk around the house turning off UPSes. This also kills the house's network (Of course I have a full network in my house. Every IT geek does.) and Internet access. So the Amazon Wiretaps start complaining.

"I can't connect to the Internet," x 3. Slightly out of sync, so it's like an echo of Echoes.

So I shut them off as well. Yee flippin' Gods. Remind me to rejoin the 80s. The 1880s.

Then I call the EMC's automated outage reporting line. As I expected, they have nothing for me this early on, but at least I'm on record about the outage.

Now I *know* that the refrigerator and freezer will keep cold for 4 hours without power. Normally, unless the outage is related to bad weather, like an ice storm, the power is back on before that. I know that Mrs. Freeholder's alarm goes off at 5 AM, and by now it's nearly 2. I turn on the bedroom light so it will wake me when the power comes back on and go back to bed for some sleep.

I wake up at 4:30 and there's still no power. Grumbling some more, I get up, pull on some clothes and start the process of getting the generator out and going so I can plug up refrigerator and freezer. All goes well until the generator won't start. It won't even hit a lick. I take the gas cap off and shake, and am rewarded with the sound of sloshing gas. I check the choke and pull, pull, pull the starter rope. Still nothing. I check the choke for the 10th time and pull, pull, pull. I pull the plug and check it. It's good. Pull, pull, pull, over and over and nothing.

Eventually, having ruled out everything else, I have to reconsider the gas. I trudge to the outbuilding and come back with a can from storage. I pour it into the tank, pull, pull, pull and am rewarded with...

Vroom! Yeah, there was enough gas to slosh but not enough to run. Now I start rigging extension cords. The freezer comes on and notes on it's display that it's up to 16o. That's not so great. The refrigerator is also warmer than I would have expected. Not too happy with either of those.
So everything is running and I'm checking to see how they're doing. Freezer has dropped 3oand the refrigerator has dropped...

Into displaying error codes. Oh, crap. I've had some minor issues with it doing something weird that I can't quite recall in detail, but I do have plenty of information on it on my laptop. Fire up the laptop and find the manufacturer's troubleshooting document. "Press this button and that button." Nothing. "Press these other buttons." Success! It seems the refrigerator starts in "demo mode", which means lights but no cooling, if it's been off for some indeterminate amount of time.

So, class, what did we learn?
  • Assumptions will kill you. I assumed that, because I could hear it slosh, I had enough gas. Nope. Fill the generator up.
  • My super-duper Energy Star appliances may run on next to no electricity, but they don't hold cold for squat. That 4 hours I though I had to get things on the generator is probably more like 60-90 minutes. Not good-what if we're out of town?
  • The refrigerator troubleshooting guide is going to get printed out and put on the back. I probably need to do something similar with a lot of things. Food for thought there.
  • Battery-powered, auto on emergency lights are the stuff. No fumbling for a flashlight. You have enough light to find your flashlight or just grab one of these and go.
Even though it would be costly, the refrigerator's "Let's start up in demo mode!" thing is going to force me to consider some sort of work around. Maybe a "whole house" generator, maybe a battery bank that is charged by mains power. Yes, solar would be nice, but Mrs. Freeholder isn't too interested in my covering the roof with solar panels, even if we could afford it. I stand a better chance with the generator or battery bank, and I can always add panels in the future.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need a shower and maybe a nap.

Edit: For those of you who may have tuned in while I was trying to unscrew Blogger's HTML code, sorry the post as sort of disjointed and partially invisible.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

We are the children of an asteroid

(I'm doing some tab clearing. I'm not sure where this should be attributed.)

66-ish million years ago, a 6 mile asteroid impacted the Earth. Odds are that if not for that impact we humans would not be here. Now, a paleontologist has found evidence of that day in history.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

We're finally going to take EMP seriouosly, and that's a bad thing

On March 26, President Trump issued an Executive Order regarding the resilience of our infrastructure in the event of an EMP. Reading this article at Ars Technica has me wondering how some people can convince themselves that it's safer with their heads in the sand (or elsewhere) than it is to actually acknowledge the existence of a threat, remote or not.

Why the author can acknowledge the effects of Starfish Prime and the Carrington Event of 1859 then rely of decade plus old sorta-science to conclude that this is some sort of over-blown concern evades me. Oh, it's because one estimate (estimate, mind you), that up to 90% of the population could die within a year of an EMP attack, is included the book One Second After

I've done a little Intertubz digging and have found this testimony to the US House of Representatives in 2008, which predates the 2009 publication of the book. Footnote 8 in this document reads:

Ambassador Henry F. Cooper, “Whistling Past The Graveyard…” High Frontier (September 20, 2016) See also: On up to 90% U.S. fatalities from an EMP attack, during a congressional hearing, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett asked me if such high fatalities could result, and I responded: “We don’t have experience with losing the infrastructure in a country with 300 million people, most of whom don’t live in a way that provides for their own food and other needs. We can go back to an era when people did live like that. That would be—10 percent would be 30 million people, and that is probably the range where we could survive as a basically rural economy.” U.S. House of Representatives, Hearing, “Threat Posed By Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack” Committee on Armed Services (Washington, D.C.: July 10,
2008), p. 9. 

Could the ambassador have seen a pre-release copy of the book, or seen/heard an interview with the author in which that number was quoted? Absolutely. But it seems to me that he wouldn't trot that number out in this sort of testimony unless it came from somewhere else more authoritative.

Unfortunately, further poking about doesn't come up with anything, authoritative or not, on the actual source of the estimate. I may or may not poke around more when I have more time and see if it's traceable on the Intertubz.

But in the meantime, I'm not going to ignore this or any other threat simply because someone else poo-poos it. It's easy enough to incorporate into my preps and costs me nothing in dollar terms that I haven't already spent. There are various places on the Intertubz that have information, with this one by Jerry Emanuelson, who holds a BS in Electrical Engineering, being my go-to.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Going to Hell in the handbasket of one's choosing

Kevin at The Smallest Minority had a link to Sarah Hoyt's piece "The Right To Go To Hell". It's interesting and insightful, and I suggest you read it.

I hate putting words in an author's mouth, but I think a short summary would be "You have the right to go to Hell in the manner of your choosing. Some people decide to go through poverty and squalor, either because they are lazy and shiftless, or because they don't see the value proposition in not being poor."

To some extent, this makes a lot of sense to me. As I've noted in other posts, both of my parents were what I call "West Virginia Refugees". This means that they picked up, packed up and left the state of their birth for greener pasture$ in the 1950s. I have zero doubt that they fared much better economically than they would if they had stayed.

While my Mom was perfectly happy to be gone, my father never totally was. Many West Virginians I've met aren't either. For several decades the thing that kept many small towns going was their expats returning after they had locked up a secure retirement income.

I've spent considerable time in the state. Once the mountains get in your blood they're hard to shake. I absolutely understand my Dad's attitude on where "home" was, and it certainly wasn't where he lived 2/3 of his life. It was West Virginia. Period, hard stop. That's where I was instructed to take his ashes after his death, so he could finally go home to stay.

Where this ties into Hoyt's post is this: I've noticed over the decades, there are two primary types of West Virginians. There are those who will, willingly or not, leave for those greener pastures, and those who are content to stay and live in poverty and sometimes squalor because West Virginia is home.

I've also noticed, in my association with Rhodesian expats, this same dynamic. Many left and have, by and large, done well for themselves, but Rhodesia is still home and they long to return, even when they know it's impossible. Then there are those stayed, lost everything to thuggery, hyperinflation and other ills endemic to Africa, because it was home and they weren't going to leave it.

Now, this is painting with that broad brush, but these observations tend to support Hoyt's thesis. There are those who, for whatever reason, decide that poverty is better than doing what is required to not be poor. I don't get it, but if I want the right to be left alone and pursue my life in the method of my own choosing, then I need to grant that right to others.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Benchmade redux

(Via the Woodpile Report)

Tom Gresham talks to Benchmade Knives new PR people, who are hoping to get their client off the hook.

Not happening, I hope. As far as I'm concerned, they need to go down. Permanently. The Left always wants its pound of flesh, but we're always happy with a mea culpa. That has got to stop.

Should I laugh or be depressed?

Just finished watching this. There are several hilarious stories. But at the same time, it's depressing just how ignorant/stupid people are.

How the hell do you marry off a kid at 25 and you've never had "The Talk" with them? Great bleeding Ghu.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A note on the media

The AP is blubbering about the death of small town newspapers.

I think newspapers, small town and otherwise, are being killed by two major factors. The first is the rise of the Internet and the ease of online publishing, which the media, print and otherwise, didn't take seriously enough until too late. As we would have said when I was in business school, they thought they were in the railroad business rather than the transportation business.

I also think the small town dailies are dying because they're no longer really local. Note this line in the AP article:

"The Daily Guide, which traces to 1962, was a family owned paper into the 1980s before it was sold to a series of corporate owners that culminated with GateHouse Media Inc., the nation’s largest newspaper company."

You can bet that "series of corporate owners" didn't live anywhere near Waynesville. They didn't give a rip about Waynesville, except for what they could extract from it. The story of small towns since small towns.

You can see the same thing happening in local television. Owned by big media conglomerates, outside of a few older folks who were there before the Internet, it's a steady stream of new faces as each preceding group either moves up-market or out of the business. Is the news local? Some of it. Do the people covering the news have a grasp of what a given story means in the community? Highly doubtful.

Do I even need to go into the media's overall political slant, news reporting with an objective and the whole "fake news" thing? Yeah, I didn't think so.

So wave goodbye to the old media outlets, both the good ones and soon enough, the bad ones. I'm not sure what business they thought they were in, but apparently it was the wrong one. AP blubbering not withstanding.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Thinking outside the box

Sometimes it's not all it seems to be.

I think this is a heck of a concept, but unfortunately it isn't quite as simple as it seems. Checking to see just how big a tank you can get (they get lots bigger), I find a couple of gotchas in this cunning plan:

"This tank must remain 1/4 full at all times when buried in the ground."
"MAXIMUM BURIAL DEPTH - 24"" from the top of the tank."

The larger tanks also have a lot more of piers in them. This is another problem, because with the larger sizes someone will have to go inside to pass up the goodies. It may get awkward in there.

You can work around the 1/4 full thing just as one works around the structural limitations of a shipping container if you bury one. The 2' depth limit doesn't give you enough cover if you were hoping to use one as an underground shelter in case of a nuclear event. Still, the small tanks, 200-300 gallons, would hold a lot of stuff and can be buried with only a small excavator. For a lot of people in remote areas, who have that sort of gear, that means no one other than them that buried it knows much of anything about it.

I think this has some potential to it. But as with anything on the Intertubz (including my meanderings), do your homework first.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Deputy, you made my day

So, yesterday I was on my way to the vet with one of our cats and going down a back road I run up on a license check. Gr-r-r.

I've never had a bad experience with one here in North Carolina, but there is always a first time. Also, as a concealed carrier, I know there is a non-zero chance that every encounter with law enforcement could go south in some unanticipated way.

Fortunately, I ran into a peace officer. NC is a "duty to notify" state, so I rolled up, put down the window and he asked for my license. Before I moved anything other than my head, I informed him that I have a concealed carry permit and that I am armed. You know what his response was?


The rest of it went as such things must, with me telling him where my wallet was, waiting for permission to move for it and so on. But there was no tension on either side. This is a huge plus in my life.

So, to a shall be unnamed deputy from the Randolph County (NC) Sheriff's Department, you have my gratitude for a dangerous job well done.

For the curious, Kitty Boy is probably going to be just fine. Based on the exam and some fluid obtained by needle, they believe has has a lipoma, but we're waiting on tests to confirm.

Edit, 3/8/2019: Yep, it's a lipoma. Need to call the vet to see where we go from here.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

RF Exposure--not a good thing in high doses

Amateur Radio RF Exposure Calculator.

Whether the rules require you to perform these calculations or not, it's a good idea to do so. Don't forget, the human body is resonant in the 6m band.

Do you even fabricate, bro?

If you do, you need this site of free technical charts. I still need to find one for hole saw speeds.

Ah...found it! Page 5.

Friday, February 22, 2019

So how'd that favor to the PD work out for you?

In the great tradition of Jim Zumbo, Benchmade Knives really slammed their dick in a drawer this week. If you haven't heard about it, allow me to ask how that hunting trip in Alaska was.

I haven't posted about it since everyone else was and I really had nothing useful to add. I've never been a Benchmade customer, so I can't even boycott them.

However, Jim Shepherd of the Shooting Wire has a pretty good take on the situation. Scroll down toward the bottom to the editorial section of the Friday, February 22, 2019 Shooting Wire to read it.

Edit, 3/11/2019: Zendo Deb was kind enough to dig up a direct link to the editorial. Thanks, Deb.

Dealing with hyperinflation

One of the big concerns when the Federal Reserve began "Quantitative Easing", otherwise known as "monetizing the debt", was hyperinflation taking hold in the US. There was good reason to be concerned, because historically monetizing the debt has lead to bouts of hyperinflation as the currency supply increases and the good for sale remains the same. The currency looses value, and inflation can and has reached 5 digits or more monthly.

For reasons no one is 100% clear on, it has't happened in the US or any other country that followed our lead. That's a good thing. Hyperinflation isn't pretty, and the solutions for it are often worse.

I support a group, the Zimbabwe Pensioner Support Fund, whose mission is to support the old age pensioners in Zimbabwe who lost nearly everything when majority rule was instituted, and who lost what little they had left when the government finally acted to stop the hyperinflation they had caused. I just got a message from them on the situation in Zimbabwe now, and I want to share one particular paragraph.

Overnight in January 2010 the reserve bank removed another 12 zeroes and people who had billions of Zimbabwe dollars were paupers the next day. No matter whether they had Zimbabwean dollars in the bank or at home they lost everything and were left with useless pieces of paper. They have never been compensated for the loss and never will be. So even though the currency changed to US dollars what they had in Zimbabwean dollars no longer existed.  Pensioners are now at the mercy of Good Samaritans that reach out to them. 

So consider this-the government lopped off 12 more zeroes from the currency in 2010. There were other zeroes removed earlier. On top of that, they effectively killed off the currency by moving their commerce to US Dollars. It wasn't only the pensioners who suffered, it was everyone outside of a certain elite group within the government.

Before the Zimbabwean government took this action, the last measured monthly inflation rate was 79,600,000,000%.That's almost 99% per day. Let those numbers sink in and scare the hell out of you.

Is that going to ever happen here? I certainly hope not, but it could. We could have the same thing to a lesser extent, say on the order of Wiemar Germany, where the highest measured monthly inflation rate was a mere 29,500%.

How would you handle such an event? In "When Money Dies", author Adam Fergusson recounts various ways that Germans coped, including trading links from gold chains for needed goods.

So those Gold Eagles might be useful to buy a house, but not a meal. Even silver would be too "value dense" for use on a daily basis. How does commerce of any sort continue? The book has a lot to say on that subject, and honestly, you really need to read it yourself, since it's been several years since I did. I do remember that barter was one way, but it was problematic. What if the farmer doesn't want your flat screen TV in trade for 50 pounds of potatoes?

People also starved to death because they had nothing that had any value to others.

While this isn't likely to happen here, it's something to ponder on. Just in case.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

If it has, we're in deeper than we realized

Charles Hugh Smith believes the Constitution has failed.

I'm not ready to declare the old girl dead just yet. However, I must admit he makes a reasonable case. If he is right, God help us if the Democrats get back in full control. Most Republicans, I'd like to believe, have just enough scruples to not go full Venezuela. I don't give the Democrats that much credit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Impressive...most impressive, boy!

I suggest you go read this week's Woodpile Report. All of it. Follow the links on anything that you think is political, CW2, survivalist or prepping related.

I apologize for costing you an even's time in advance. It won't be wasted.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Indicators! We got indicators!

As I mentioned in yesterday's post, I think it's a good idea to have a list of economic indicators that you keep up with. It doesn't have to be anything formal or have a lot of process to go with it. I know that mine are very informal and I've gotten so used to keeping an eye on these things that it's just second nature now.

My list looks something like Charles Hugh Smith's list, but I generally watch mine for indications on the local rather than the national economy. I've tuned them over the years, because some of the things I used to think were great indicators turned out to be not so great. This isn't the inclusive list, but I hope it gives you some insight into the things you might want to watch.

  1. Business closings and/or sales: This equates to numbers 1, 2 and 4 on Smith's list. When you live in a small town, you're easily aware of every business that opens and closes, and the sale of a business is an event worthy of the local newsrag's notice. When I start seeing businesses close, my ears perk up. In a small town it only takes a very few closing to start things moving in the wrong direction. For sales of well-known establishments, more than 2 per year should raise an eyebrow.
  2. Delayed home sales, few/no new home starts and apartment rent and occupation numbers: This equates to number 7 and a bit to number 6. When I start noticing "For Sale" signs staying in yards for an inordinately long time, say 6 months, I start paying a lot of attention. When you go months and never see a new house started, that's a cause for concern. When rents are static, when there are any giveaways ("throwaway" or not) and when apartments go unrented for months, that's something to investigate. It could just be people are buying houses or would rather rentsomething. Or it could be people aren't setting up new households, which something else entirely.
  3. Numerous large tracts of undeveloped land for sale: Number 6 again with a light sprinkling of Number 8 for flavor. In my AO, a large tract of land is as little as 10 acres. (Welcome to the heavily populated eastern US.) A really large one is 100 acres and you rarely see anything over 200. When these things start coming up for sale in numbers, especially if they have been timbered and are then put up for sale, it's close to a Red Flag warning. Most people who have land like that aren't interested in selling if times are good or even mediocre-they can always lease it out for hunting and make enough to pay the taxes. Even bad times will only bring up so much, but if you seeing enough as as you're driving to say "Hey, that's the x-th one I've seen," then bet there is something going on that you don't know about. Find out about it.
  4. Boys parting with their toys. This is Number 8 but around here, it isn't Porsches. We have a rule of thumb that if you want a boat, and RV or a four wheeler, wait until January-February. That's when all the guys who overdid it on Christmas have to sell them to pay bills. Ditto gun shows during that period. However, if you're seeing an inordinate amount of them during the summer, or four wheelers just before deer season, or yards with more than one toy with a "For Sale" sign on it, then it's probably not for sale because of Christmas bills.
  5. Restaurant business is slow on Friday/Saturday night. Around here, those are the big evening for going to a "sit down" restaurant, and most everyone goes on one of them. If business is slow and it's not one of those major weekends where everyone leaves town, it isn't a good sign. If it keeps up week after week, it's an even worse sign.
  6. When you can't sell reasonably priced useful goods on Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, LetGo or at the flea market. There is always a market for the cheap used furniture, older-but-good TVs and the like. When there isn't, it's a problem.
  7. When you can't sell "nice to have" goods on Facebook Marketplace, CraigsList, LetGo or at the flea market at any price. When you can't sell that Yeti cooler for $50, the "S" may already be airborne and heading toward the fan.
There are more, but these are the biggies. I only start watching #6 and #7 when I'm seeing disquieting signs in #1-5.

 If you have any interesting touchstones, I'd love to hear them. We learn from each other.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Indicators for the Real World

Often, there are indicators or warning signs before "something" happens. Sometimes they are unrecognized and sometimes they are misinterpreted. Sometimes they are ignored.

The US economy has all sorts of measures applied to it that become information from which "indicators" are built. Some are considered "leading indicators", meaning they presage some development. Others are "lagging indicators", where the information they bear can only be interpreted after the event has happened. Then we have "coincident indicators", which, as you might guess, occur during the event. (If you want some more information on indicators, Investopedia has a short article on them.) Bear in mind that these indicators are relatively academic in nature. They aren't things we can easily see around us. Because of their nature, they're often of limited usefulness to individuals, and as a result, many people simply ignore them for the most part.

I think it's important for each of use to develop our own list of real world economic indicators. It's just another sort of situational awareness. Like politics, the economy is interested in you. Unlike politics, it has near immediate effect on your life.

Charles Hugh Smith, one of the economists I follow, has a post on the "Telltale Signs of Recession". He concentrates on looking at more real world indicators versus the more high-flying indicators that most economists look at. Use these as a starting point for developing your own personal list of indicators that you monitor. Use what you see and deduce from your indicators to know when "something", good or bad, is about to happen.

Ignorance is not bliss.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Hell, I'll say it

(Via the Woodpile Report)

We're on #10 and working hard on #11. #12 is already underway as well.

One reason I love the Woodpile Report is that it gives me all sorts of new blogs I want to read.  The thing I hate about the Woodpile Report is that it gives me all sorts of new blogs I want to read. #FirstWorldProblems, right?

I was raised to respect and more importantly trust the police. Fed a steady diet of Dragnet, The FBI, Adam Twelve and Hawaii Five-O, the cops were heroes, The occasional dirty cop was an aberration of the worst sort and was quickly dealt with. Yeah, 60s and 70s TV. The media probably lied then, too.

Unfortunately, I've seen too much, heard to much and experienced too damn much to have much respect for or trust in law enforcement these days. Daughter went through two-ish years in a major metro in our state where she was constantly pulled over while driving because her car was the same make and model as a local drug dealer. Making matters worse her license plate was one digit off the bad guy's as well. Of course, my short, rotund, white daughter didn't look much like a black man in his mid 20s, but that made no difference.

She suffered this in silence save for the first occurrence, dealing with it and the constant threat of "driving while mistaken for someone else" until it got out of hand right in front of her university. One of those "ruthless agents of the state" pulled her over. Out of her car, she stood her ground and refused to allow him to search it. (And yes, I'm damned proud of her for taking a stand.)

Then he ran the plate and found out the vehicle was registered to her mother. Mrs. Freeholder has a concealed carry permit. So now he believes he has probably cause to search for the gun he is convinced is there. Daughter demanded that he get his superior on scene forthwith, but wisely allowed him to search the car. The longer he looked the angrier he became, because he couldn't find anything.

About the time he arrived, one of her business professors saw what was happening and went charging in to the rescue, and introduced himself as "Daughter's attorney", which at the moment due to his bar license and her good sense to accept the offer, he instantly became. It helped that the supervisor was, by her description, one of the "old cops" that I refer to as "peace officers".

By the end of this entire sorry story, she had apologies from the agent of the state, the peace officer and the chief of police. Amazing what the threat of a lawsuit for "harassment under color of law" will do.

That weekend, she came home and told us what had happened. As quickly as possible we transferred the car to her ownership, got her insurance and a new tag. Problem solved.

Except that there is now an entire family who has seen the dark side of law enforcement Dr. Weiner refers to. And what is seen can not be unseen.

The sad thing is that 99% of every LEO I've ever interacted with has been a reasonably good person as far as I could tell. Courteous and as helpful as they could be, the front man or woman for "To serve and protect". But that one bad apple has caused all of us to be on our guard every time we have an interaction with the cops, especially if we don't start it. We never know when that 1-in-a-hundred will show up.

We now live in a time when we can't trust most of our government or our media. Lying politicians, government agencies out of control and the obvious, blatant attempts to subvert the legal process for political gain ought to be enough for anyone to lose faith in the system. I pretty much have.

I can't wait to see Part 2 of Dr. Weiner's series.

It appears I was wrong about legalizing drugs

I'm one of those small-l-libertarians who has always held that if we legalized drugs, the problems associated with illegal drugs would go away.

Empirical evidence strongly suggests I'm very wrong. Scroll down to the bottom of the February 5 edition of The Tactical Wire and read the piece titled "War In The Woods: Illegal Immigration, Drugs and Wildlands". Pretty eye-opening. I plan on watching the documentary tonight.

It seems that legalizing marijuana has brought the illegal growers out of the woodwork. To make matters worse, they import illegal aliens and banned chemicals to do their work, while leaving destruction in their wake. Legal growers can't compete because they're regulated like any other agricultural operation.

President Trump is right about our southern border. It has to be rendered as impermeable as possible. Now. It won't stop the problems, but it should put a big dent in them.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Toss a bunch out on their ear

And the rest (mostly) get religion. After a series of election losses for ARRL incumbents, plus the (in appearance, at least) hasty departure of a new president, it seems we members got the attention of our Board of Directors.

Addressing an ARRL governance issue, the Board repealed the ARRL Policy on Board Governance and Conduct of Members of the Board of Directors and Vice Directors, commonly known as the "Code of Conduct," on an 11-3 vote with one abstention.

The Board voted unanimously to create a Legal Structure Review Committee to study and make recommendations to update ARRL's legal structure "to reflect ARRL's current operational needs."

Yeah. "...current operational needs." Like keeping the membership happy with the direction of our national amateur radio group. They've already gotten the membership involved, and it cost a lot of people their cozy little positions of power. I know I didn't vote for the Roanoke Division incumbents. A lot did; more didn't. This happened in other divisions as well.

Now if we could just make this happen on a national level.