Thursday, February 23, 2017

It must be the night for civil war

(From Michael Bane on Facebook)

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

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

It's starting to become something of a meme

(Found on Facebook)

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

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

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

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

The long hot summer

(Links via the Drudge Report)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, February 22, 2017


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

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

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

The du Toit...he hath returned

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

I should read my own blogroll more often

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here's one that's just for fun

Or maybe not.

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

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

Fertilizing those raised beds

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 20, 2017

Back to it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Without further ado, here are the videos.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

I have got to close some of these browser tabs

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, tabs cleared for now. Carry on.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Motion sensors on a budget

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

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

Cheap way to stretch your sentries.

A bleg

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

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

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

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

Can you help an OG gun blogger? I have.

A new gun malfunction--the saga continues

I've gotten an amazing amount of traffic on my post "A new gun malfunction". (I'm quite grateful for that, by the way. While I've often said that I write for my own reasons, it's always fun to know that others are interested.) I thought you might want to know how that little project is going.

Monday of this week, the Glock 30, which for the time being I'm calling "The Gun That Put the 'Ouch' in Malfunction", arrived home. Tuesday afternoon I took it to the range for a test drive. The first magazine was horrible, meaning that I was peppered with hot brass. The second was nearly as bad and the third, while better, wasn't good enough that I was willing to shoot a fourth. I was, however, more than willing to utter a few choice words.

Wednesday morning, I called Glock's support line and oddly enough connected to the same gentleman I had spoken to the first time. I filled him in on the latest, and told him that I had noticed one odd thing--a sticker on the case that noted "G26 Gen 4 ". I was curious if perhaps some incorrect parts had been used as replacements.

He had to go track down the actual paperwork from the armorer (someone wasn't Johnny on the spot in getting his tickets entered into the system, it seems), but once he had it in had, it comes out that nothing had been done to the gun.  The armorer had ran 60 rounds of two different types of ammo through it and experienced no problems. I can confirm that something was done, because the gun was clean and not lubed when I received it back.

So we discussed the situation. He asked if it would be possible to get some video of me shooting the gun. That I can do, and so it was back to the range that afternoon, gun, range bag, tripod and iPhone in hand. 30 rounds of ammo, a lot of brass pinging off me and a pronounced flinch later, I had 2 minutes of video for them to look at. If I can figure out how to use Adobe Premiere well enough to blur out my ugly mug, I'll post it here. It's...interesting. It was also not as bad as the Tuesday trip; I think the wind had something to do with that.

I uploaded it to my Dropbox, wrote them a blow-by-blow account and sent them a link to the video. About 20 minutes later I got a message back saying to "please send us the gun". This time the armorer is going to get the video to prove that there is something up with the G30.

Oh, and Glock is paying for the trip this time. I wouldn't be doing this any other way, trust me. There is such things as "sunk cost" and "cutting your losses".

I'm grateful that Glock is willing to put the effort in this problem. A lot of other companies would blow off a customer at this point. Perhaps it's because gun companies, smart ones at least, know that repeat business is one of their big profit drivers.

I just hope they can figure out what is going on with it. I have video evidence that this gun does everything from a proper ejection to tossing them over my left shoulder, which was a surprise when I saw that on the video. There is something decidedly off with this particular pistol.

So it's off to get it cleaned up and then back to FedEx. Keep your fingers crossed. I am.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Hardening your home

(This one is going to be your 5 Minute Prep piece for today, simply because you can read it in 5 minutes. You may even be able to do some of the tasks in 5 minutes, but trust me, doing all of this is a lot of work. Very worthwhile work, though.)

I keep thinking back to the lady with the 3 inch screws and the false sense of security that gave her. Sure, she had done something to improve her security, which puts her ahead of probably 80% of people, but there is so much that she left undone, and most of it is simple and relatively inexpensive.

According to a post by Off The Grid News that I trolled up, the breakdown of how a criminal gains entry to a residence is as follows:

  • 4 percent enter through the front door
  • 23 percent enter through first floor windows
  • 22 percent enter through a back door
  • 9 percent enter through the garage
  • 6 percent enter through unlocked storage areas
  • 4 percent enter through a basement window or door
  • 2 percent enter through a second floor window
Based on a few discussions with some LEOs I know and reading the crime reports for a number of years, this looks about right. So what do you do to harden your house?
  1. Lock your doors and windows. You'd be amazed how often a burglar gains access through an unlocked door or window. Don't make it easy for them. 
  2. Don't hide spare keys stupidly. Everyone knows the spare key is under the mat, or the flower pot, or the on top of the door frame. If you going to hide a key outside, get one of the heavy duty lock boxes and put it on there.  I use this one. It's built like a tank. A burglar can get in, but it will take a while and make a lot of noise.
  3. If you can afford it, get a centrally monitored burglar alarm. Every LEO I've talked with says this is the gold standard tool to keep burglars away. They may even kick in a door or break a window to be sure there is an actual alarm (you can buy fake stickers and signs), but when the siren goes off, they nearly always run. We have one, and I don't think you'll get in the house with it on.
  4. Harden your exterior doors. This can take several forms. For wood framed doors, at a minimum you need to look at a product that hardens the door frame and the area around the door locks, such as those from Armored Concepts. Better is to reinforce the entire frame, using kits such as ones sold by Kickproof or StrikeMaster, and then reinforce the area around the locks.

    After we were broken into (the rear door was kicked in), I went with modified hurricane-rated doors front and back. They have 3 locking points and are made of reinforced fiberglass. I used 1/16" aluminium plate on the outside of the door frames to reinforce them and all the screws are extra long and drilled into the studs. The doors themselves have oval windows (a concession to my wife) that are tempered and have a reinforcing film applied (more on that next).
  5. Overhead garage doors are a weak point that is difficult to reinforce. As a rule, the best you can do is to use the provided lock points and a padlock if you plan on being absent for a long period of time. If you have garage door openers, remove that dangling cord from the manual release. If your doors have windows, burglars will break the window and use a long pole to snare it and disengage the release so they can open the door.
  6. Windows are a weak point that can be difficult to deal with as well, especially those that can be reached from the ground or a deck. First, be sure they are locked. There are various high-security window locks, but when you can break in with a rock, I believe they are a waste of money.

    While it may be a waste of time, you can drill into the sashes and slip in a bolt so that the windows can't be opened from outside even if the lock is opened. I've been told that burglars don't like to deal with broken glass, due to noise and the possibility of cutting themselves, thereby leaving DNA evidence. Just be sure you can remove that bolt with your bare fingers in case of a fire.

    More expensive but possibly more useful are reinforcing films, such as this 3M product. As a bonus, you get energy savings. I think this one is going to be added to my to-do list. This is a DIY project if you are the least bit handy around the house.
  7. There are also a lot of miscellaneous things you can do-keep your foundation plantings trimmed down, keep ladders secured, consider a video surveillance system (be sure it has recording capability), make friends with that nosy neighbor, keep a dog and so on.
Being broken into sucks, as I can testify to from bitter experience. Given our current social situation, if you live in a metro area, small to medium city or a suburb I don't think it's going to be bad practice to have hardened home your to at least this level. I think if I lived in one of those areas I might have a roll of chicken wire and staples handy so I could cover my windows, just in case.

This is one of those areas where being ahead of the curve is a good thing.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Keeping important drugs cool when the power is out

There are a number of drugs, the most commonly thought of being insulin, that require refrigeration. What do you do if the power is out and you've made no other provisions?

Obviously, if you're a reader here you've likely made some preparations before hand if you have this need, but you may have friends of neighbors who haven't. Now you can help them out without exposing the depth of your preps.

Making a bit of personal history

At one point in history, online discussion forums were the big thing. In the days when the BBS ruled digital communication, forums were about the only thing we had. Well that, and Fidonet echos.

When the Internet came about, forums exploded. These days, they are so poorly ran, usually by narrow-minded Taliban wanna-bes who can't stand the least thing that offends their world view, that they are unusable by anyone who has an ounce of ability to think for themselves. God forbid that someone post anything that might offend the forum admin's delicate sensibilities.

A while back, maybe a year or more, I had a run in with one of these self-righteous types. Of course, I lost, but I made up my mind that if it happened again, I was going to bail. My time is precious to me, and even though I now have more of it than I did then, it's still precious. So when my post referencing Mountain Guerrilla was yanked, I asked a different admin what was up. The response was an "I don't know" followed by direction to contact that same self-righteous admin, I decided that it was time.

So now, for the first time since I've owned a computer, I'm not active on any sort of discussion forum. This is going to feel a little weird for a while.