Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Throwing this up tonight

Because I don't want to blow your Thanksgiving.

Commodity prices are plunging, the dollar is powering higher, the yield curve is flattening, ObamaCare is collapsing, global trade is plummeting and terrorism is spreading across the globe. The high yield credit markets are sending distress signals and 10-year swap spreads are negative. Energy companies are going out of business faster than you can say “frack” and trillions of dollars of European bonds are again trading at negative interest rates. The world is drowning in more than $200 trillion of debt that can never be repaid while European and Japanese central bankers promise to print more money and the Federal Reserve is being dragged kicking-and-screaming into raising interest rates by a paltry 25 basis points. Accurate pricing signals in the markets are distorted by overregulation, monetary policy overreach and group think. Hedge funds are hemorrhaging and investors, desperate to generate any kind of nominal return on their capital, continue to ignore the concept of risk-adjusted returns. Some market strategists believe this is a positive environment for risk assets; I am not among them.

The man may be wrong about what is coming, but he's nailing it it on the current state of the markets.  I have all but exited the equities market again, after carefully dipping my toe back in a few years ago.  Sure, I've missed out on a lot of money that could have been made, but I've also missed out on a lot of heartburn, anxiety and sleepless nights as well.

Yes, I agree with him.  We're cruisin' for a bruisin'.

I'm not one of those people who is going to tell you that, if you have money to invest, you should invest in gold or farm land or canned food and shotguns.  We each have to know our own tolerance for risk and our own heart and invest accordingly.  I'm just going to tell you that in a really bad economy, cash or things that act like cash are king.  The ability to provide for yourself, especially when it comes to food, is invaluable.  Good friends and neighbors that you can trust are as good as gold.

If you can't be thankful for those things tomorrow, you might consider working toward being thankful for them in 365 days from tomorrow.

Thursday, November 19, 2015


I was listening to Michael Bane's latest Downrange Radio, in which he deals with the ISIS attacks in Paris.  Strong stuff, and the man speaks with passion.  Even if you don't listen to the show as a matter of course, I suggest you listen to this one.  Lots of good stuff in it.  Pay particular attention to the part about the interplay between radical and moderate Muslims.  Not news to me, but a lot of folks don't seem to get the joke.

At any rate, he was remarking on the picture that has been floating about the Intertubz of the shield used by the first French counterattacker into the Bataclan theater, and the pattern of the hits on it.  I'd seen it but hadn't paid too much attention, so I Googled it up, and marked it up.

The red circles are what appear to be obvious groups.  The orange circles are possible groups.  Four pretty definite groups and two possibles.

You may want to consider this when people tell you that the terrorists on mad men, or hyped up on drugs or whatever it is they're saying to make themselves feel a little less scared.

These people were stone killers, down to the last man and woman.  Yeah, you heard about the woman who was yelling "Help me!  Help me!"  to the French police, trying to sucker them in closer before she blew herself up?

Boys and girls, we are definitely in the shit.  Our turn will inevitably come, and we're going into the Muslim fanatic's wet dream terrorist season here in the US.  People are going to go out--it's Christmas.  You have to go out or the bastards win.

Just go out armed for bear, will ya?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

While I'm waiting


This morning I woke up with a migraine attack building.  No reason for it; as far as I know none of the triggers I've identified got themselves triggered.  (For the record, yes, I hate using the word "trigger" because of the Social Justice Warrior baggage it now carries.  However, it is the medical term, so I've got to go with it.)

I've showered and shaved (using a damn electric razor, because I'm shaking enough that I might well cut my jugular right now) and taken my meds.  And I'm waiting for them to kick in.  I've been waiting for an hour now, and it sucks.  I have to stay relatively still, and that's not what I had planned on today.

At least with the advent of modern flat screen technology, I can look at a screen if I keep the brightness down.  And so I'm trolling around my blogroll.  Here are some of the interesting tidbits.

Wheelgun posted this several days before Friday's events in Paris.  "Prophetic" doesn't seem to cover it.

Captain Capitalism helps you lower your blood pressure and retain your sanity when dealing with those of a more liberal persuasion by educating us on the IQ differences between those who have decided to take the STEM path versus those who took a softer path.

From Cool Tools, the Wixey WR200 Digital Height Gauge.  At $56 it's a bit steep, but I'd bet there is a Chinese knock-off at 1/4 the price that will be accurate enough for most needs.

In the MIDDLE of the RIGHT, you can find a list of where those 10,000 Syrian "refugees" are going to be resettled in the US.  I note with both sadness and trepidation that 3 of those cities are within a 1 hour drive of my home.  I guess that we may have to give a "retirement relocation" a bit more thought than we were.  Mrs. Freeholder will be thrilled.

Karen de Coster brings to light a bit of research that points out that if you sleep well, you're a racist.  Seriously.  Please check your white privilege at the bedroom door.

Michael Bane's reaction to the Paris attack.  Good as it is, one of the comments will bring you face-to-face with the reality of a terrorist attack if you have the stones to click through all the warnings.  You should.  As I said in my comment, they should be plastering this on billboards.  This is why we are armed, why we train and why we carry.  We might still wind up dead on the floor, but at least we have a chance.  Those poor souls had no chance at all.  They weren't even cannon fodder.  They were simply sheep in an abattoir.

Uncle points out that ISIS couldn't possibly be responsible for the Paris attacks since the Boy Who Would Be King has said that we have them under control.  I guess this is his "Mission Accomplished" moment, but don't expect the press to call him on it.

And last but not least, the Tactical Professor talks boundaries.

We're going forth into a new week into a world that has suddenly shifted underneath our feet--AGAIN.  Be aware, be safe, be prepared.  If you can carry, do so.  While I don't think anything will happen here, we can't know that, and fortune always favors the prepared.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Jesus wept.

(Via the Drudge Report)

The headline reads


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

I didn't say anything last night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I may be a bit late today

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A little something on communications

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A not-tab-clearing post

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pulling an all-nighter

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gotta love it.

Sunday, November 01, 2015

But the anti-gunners say this never happens

But apparently in Chicago, the land of collapsing city budgets and public pensions, the impossible is just something they are going to have to learn to deal with.

An armed man attempting to rob a neighborhood store was shot and killed by a customer who had a concealed carry license, Chicago police said Sunday.

You know, I bet they'd really like it if one of those impossible things could happen to their city budget as well.