Friday, January 24, 2014

The Endgame & 'Contact' Review

I know, you've been waiting for more from me about the proverbial substance hitting the oscillating mechanism. But don't you worry, friend(s)! The wait is over!

What lies in store for this nation is a shit-show of epic proportions.


As is my wont, I've mulled of late the numerous expostulations made by those in the preparations community, as well as contemplated my own assumptions about the road ahead. I have tried to square them with what I know about reality, history, and human nature. And that is what led me to pick up the book Contact by Max Velocity.

Contact is a book that goes over what a civilian needs to know about security for life after 'the event.' It is a 500+ page distillation and rumination of his personal experience and training in Special Forces and the mindset and approach that will be necessary to survive in a WROL scenario.

Like Max, mad or not, I have come to the conclusion that:

A.) There will be an event (or more than one) that causes a systemic breakdown of our way of life, leading to lawlessness, chaos, anarchy, death, and potentially tyranny. For those that want to think that this is strictly the realm of fantasy or that things would not be that bad, I would respectfully ask you to:

a.) Look elsewhere at what is happening in the world;
b.) Read your Bible;
c.) Study History;
d.) Consider the many threats facing this nation
e) Ask yourself, “What makes us so special?”

As an historian, the answers I found for myself are painfully obvious and disturbing. The shit is coming. We are in it now. As things pick up, it will hit all of us. It's now up to us how we are going to be when it all goes down. Perhaps the world will not end, but be assured, ours will!

Haha! Depressed yet? Don't be. The endgame is summed up well in Max's book.

Survive the opening series of events by staying out of the chaos and keeping a low profile as much as possible. Eventually, in the new normal, it will be necessary to maintain security. And it will also be necessary for a community to provide food for itself, especially as reserves elsewhere run thin.

So you see, survivability, post-event, will depend on one's community's ability to do both and do each well. You can't be isolated forever, which is one of the main things that need to be seriously contemplated. At some point, you will make contact with the bad guys and you need to know how to respond before things go down.

And at this stage of the game, I agree with this above conclusion. I also like Max's no-nonsense approach to security and what you need to know. Much of the book are posts from his blog re-organized to make sense of or extrapolate on the first edition. I don't mind. It's good to have everything in one hand and go from there. His book is essential reading regarding tactics. His blog is solid as wel, IMO.

No secret squirrel BS. Just proven techniques and reflections to keep one alive.
So what I am getting at is this: while we continue to pay our mortgages and do the normal every day life thing, we should also be realistically thinking about how we will actually be after normalcy takes a snooze and goes into hibernation. If you are honest, I believe, you will realize that security and learning how to provide food for yourself will be of the utmost importance. I think Max's book will be of sound assistance, or at least offer some excellent clarification and reflection about that which one may already know.

For my part, I've talked a lot about this shit over the past several years. There will be no more discussion of this on this blog. None. You all know what I think, I think. I am now seriously telling everyone who might believe in self-preservation what they should do and how bad I think it will actually be.

Talk is cheap, however. What counts is action.

Take each for what they are worth.

Over & Out,


Saturday, January 11, 2014

10 Random Thoughts

1.) I've gone back to drinking tea (instead of coffee), almost entirely. Mostly green. I can't believe how mellow and good this makes me feel. My wife was shocked with my mellowness the first day. I didn't notice until she did. t's pretty awesome. I still like coffee but not how it makes me feel.

2.) Found out I am pretty much type-ii diabetic over the holiday. Lots of new lifestyle choices ahead. Beating this naturally is my goal. I think I can do it if I stay the course.

3.)  Looking to build some new outdoor infrastructure over the year, specifically a cover for all my firewood. I think I will pay to have a fence built along our road frontage.

4.) I love my new job. It's pretty much the complete jam. If it continues like this, I don't think I will ever leave.

5.) The pipes froze in our house for the first time since we've lived here. Even though it was during the recent extreme cold snap, I was still surprised.

6.) Very impressed with my shit-box little Toyota. It's zippy and gets crazy MPG. It costs me like 20 bucks to use it to commute for 2 weeks. Thanks FIL!

7.) I fear gardening. The level of commitment and the still the possibility of failure.

8.) This year I am making it a point to connect more often with several of the locals who share some of the same ideas I do. I've been an island for too long. I hope to have the wherewithal to do that freely.

9.) I am looking to plan my main adventures for the year by the end of February, noting things I'd like to accomplish.

10.) I can watch the Hawks now on the NHL channel on our new ROKU. It's totally sweet!

Over & Out,


Friday, November 29, 2013


Earlier this year, I read Cliff Dowdey's "Lee's Last Campaign" which detailed Robert E. Lee's maneuvers from Wilderness to Petersburg in 1864.

One of the main problems the Confederacy and definitely Lee struggled with was the concept of troop concentration, that is, bringing all one's troops together into a single, formidable fighting force.

Had Lee been able to do that when he so desired, perhaps things would have been different for the Confederacy. Who really knows? I have, however, been thinking about how his struggle could be related to far wider implications in the struggles of every day life.

Maybe that's extreme-sounding. The truth is it's easy to be overwhelmed by the ever-present and sometimes seemingly ever-expanding to do-list. Even simple things begin to look like relatively tall orders and nothing gets done. A scattershot approach, where a little bit of this and a little bit of that are accomplished, doesn't get one too far.

But when you marshall all your resources to take on a singular task and go after it relentlessly until the mission is accomplished, suddenly there's the feeling of real progress and the juggernaut of domination marches on.

I bring this up as a personal reminder to myself that it is always better to do one thing well than to do 90 things at once half-ass. Sometimes that is not an option, but it is no way to live when it is. In our modern world, it is so easy to go all ADHD and try to do everything, or become distracted while doing one thing so you can handle another. Slowing down and putting one foot in front of the other with one project in mind at a time is what actually gets you somewhere.

Other stuff--even tantalizing new projects--can typically wait.

At least that's what my fortune cookie said.

Over & Out,


Sunday, November 10, 2013

A sweet Fall as Falls go...

It's not my XJ...not yet, but this
pic pretty much captures my sentiments this Fall.

This has been the most spectacular Fall in the Northern Shenandoah that I can remember. Maybe because it began in August. The last 3 or 4 summers here we baked in August with unrelenting 100 degree days. This time around August was unseasonably cool and pleasant.

The temperate weather--cool sunny days--has lasted until today (11/10/13). Clare wanted more beach time and for the summer not to end. Me, I've hit my full Fall stride. It's two point 5 weeks before Turkey Day, and it's still amazing outdoors.

The leaves held onto the trees for a good two weeks of awesome and then some. Our sugar maples near the road usually turn late in the peak and this year has been no exception. At present, the last few leaves are flying off the trees as the locals tune their hunting rifles, and our winter view of the Massanutten Mountain has returned. I can't say I am complaining.

On the inside of the homestead, construction and in some cases destruction continues, more of the former than the latter though at this point.

There can come a time (at least for me) I think when you own a house and then fully buy-in to it. I think I am at full buy-in. Before I could have left if the right opportunity presented itself. Now I'd be hard pressed to do so.

It's definitely because of the structural changes and the new look and feel of the home. The massive beam in the kitchen, new cabinetry and other upgrades are really beginning to coalesce and work for us, I think. There is more done than not and I am juiced by it.

One major improvement that's made a serious difference is the 10ft transition strip between floors where the old wall used to be. We previously experienced a serious draft from the crawl space there, but after emptying two cans of spray-in insulation all along the space and covering it up with some beautiful heart pine, the temperature in the house is far more stable. If the fire in the woodstove winds down, the house doesn't instantly become an ice box and you can feel the winter breeze outta no where.

Don't get me wrong. There's still a draft, but a much, much smaller one. I can burn far less wood and stay much more comfortable. The new open design seems to be working as planned when it comes to heat and I have to run away from the kitchen at some point because I am breaking a sweat in a t-shirt. Clare, on the other hand, finds this the perfect inside weather. That's ok. A warm wife is usually a happy wife, and that's what I am all about.

Anyway, I am in a seasonably festive mood this year. The holy days ahead do not seem burdensome and progress on the house is more rapid than not. The more wood I see on the walls, the better. A definite win.

Hope all is well in your endeavors. Take names.

Over and Out,


Sunday, September 01, 2013

P-83 Review

My father-in-law asked me to make a gun purchase with him and I couldn't have been happier to have done so.

Not wanting to break the bank and invoke the ire of his wife, and not needing the most tacticool weapons out there, the Polish mil-surp variants available at the local Gander Mountain were under consideration. Specifically, the P-64 and also the P-83.

We looked at the P-64 and then it's updated version, the P-83. It was an easy choice.

The bang switch on the P-64 felt like a 1970's arcade game, the kind that will malfunction on you by the time you get to level boss. The P-83, by contrast, was extremely smooth by comparison. Even compared with other modern weapons, I was impressed. With additional 9x18 capacity over the p-64 (ok, it's only two rounds, I know, but still...), there was really no downside in making a decision between the two.

With new Glock 19's retailing for an eye-popping $699.99 at the store, 3 Benjamin's and change and a couple boxes of ammo later for a desk gun felt pretty ok. Upon leaving the store, my father-in-law then asked (tasked?) me with further inspecting the weapon and putting it through its paces. No problemo.

A quick internet search revealed how the weapon breaks down. At first I thought it was difficult, and then I saw that the unloaded gun should be placed on a table with both the underside of the barrel and grip touching the surface. In the trigger well a switch is then depressed and the slide cocks back, up, forward and out and you are ready to service the pistol. I didn't play with it long enough to say for sure, but it does appear that the hammer needs to be back for success.

Some CLP and a bit of Slipstream Grease later, I took this well-worn-in weapon to the backyard range with a clipfull of Hornady 9x18 HD grade ammo. After testing to make sure the safety/decocker worked with a live round in the chamber, I was pleasantly shocked when firing.

Trigger pull, felt-recoil, and overall ergonomics felt great. My Polish brethern got this one right. Putting the gun back on target was a snap. Accuracy seemed ok, but really I was just studying how the gun fired and felt, so no targets other than a beach ball and a far off weed-tree were used.

Initially, I was concerned with the mag-release being on the bottom of the handle, but in working it, I quickly came to the realization that the hands can move very naturally in accessing the button, snagging the spent mag, and grabbing another. In fact, I was very please that my big hands fit this mid-size gun very well throughout the process.

To sum up, this little gun is actually pretty sweet. Yah, it's not a tactical polymer, I get that. But there are different tools for a different jobs. For a stamped weapon out of the Eastern bloc, this little thing is quite the gem. I wish capacity was higher, but at least surplus ammo is available and (relatively) cheap online in bulk. One potential down side of this guy is finding a serviceable holster for daily carry. Milsurp will not do. Something in leather and kydex would be lovely.

Overall, my opinion of this gun went up in studying it and breaking it down. It appears and seems extremely reliable and durable. I would happily obtain one myself if I had the chance and the spare change.

Over and Out,


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Climbing Upwards

Sometimes life feels like a big hill with an upward climb that never ends.

Sometimes there are snakes on the path and other obstacles, or refreshing streams and gorgeous views, but at the end of the day, the climb must resume.

About 2 weeks back we finished installing the beam at the house. The big 12ft 8x8 oak beam and 2 oak posts. The open space and addition of 40 sq. ft  has done wonders for our lives. We no longer feel we are living in close quarters. It's beautiful and strong. The place has truly transformed.

Getting to this moment though has been an uphill climb. I spent many hours selecting, moving, and preparing the wood and the site for installation, making sure everything was up to all local and regional codes and would make the inspectors happy. I even bought a truck, in part, to get those beams and other lumber to the homestead. I went by myself on crazy wood-snagging adventures to get those beams, depending a little bit on luck and God's Providence to cut and move these multi-hundred pound monsters into my rig.

And it all worked out. It took some time, but it worked out.

There is still more to do, true, but the main event is over. It passed inspection and now shelves and furniture as well as a new dishwasher remain. There are other aesthetic features to handle to be sure, but the rush to get to them, while pressing, is not quite as stressful.

With all that said, I hope the heating season is far more pleasant this time around than it has been the last 4 years, since now the hot air can flow freely throughout the space. I am hoping that our winter feels a bit more luxury and a little less pioneer.

Ok, a lot less pioneer.

Which reminds me, it's time to order some more slab (fire) wood.

Over and Out,


Sunday, August 04, 2013

Retreat Locales, Thoughts on Skoelsen, Rawles

Fox Hollow Circuit Hike Trail Head at Dickey Ridge,
Shenandoah National Park
This afternoon Clare and I had the mutual bright idea of heading up to nearby Skyline Drive for a picnic at the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center and Picnic area this afternoon. It was a perfect day, and the short (1.3 mile Fox Hollow hike) is a very enjoyable family friendly jaunt, which tours the remains of the old Fox homestead that existed there years before FDR's administration bought them and the other 2,000 residents out to form the National Park.

The view from the Visitor Center proper (not shown) is fabulous, looking west across the Shenandoah Valley and Massanutten Mountain to the far ridge that is known (or was known), as I understand it, as the Devil's Backbone in the far distance. To the right is a picture of the East-Northeast View, which, I believe, looks toward High Knob (the mountain on the right. Beyond it is I-66, which is the commuter corridor that takes one to Washington, DC.

As far as I am concerned the Shenandoah Valley has it all, but is under-sung in certain circles when it comes to its appeal as a potential prepper redoubt. Retreat locale gurus Joel Skoelsen and J.W. Rawles have contributed much excellent data and research to the discussion of retreat locales. And while I respect their opinions, I think there is more to be said about the East Coast and retreat locales in general when it comes to a societal collapse, or "the crunch" as Rawles speaks about it in his novels.

Their main criticism, as I understand it, is population density. Rawles only recommends several states in the Upper Mountain Northwest as a viable option for survival, whereas Skoelsen recommends several regions cut off from population centers. In their world view, if you live on the East Coast (or an East Coast State) chances for survival are slim, or go down drastically because of such a high population density.

I agree with that basic premise, except with regard to one thing. Terrain.

Navigating the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains is not easy. Skoelsen believes that residents living in the Shenandoah Valley are too close to high population centers (Baltimore/DC/Northern VA) and will suffer numerous roving bands and so therefore recommends the Piedmont Region (Eastern/Northen Tenessee & Eastern Kentucky) for extra insurance against them.

That is fine and all, but my personal opinion after spending my free time this summer hiking in the mountains is thus: anyone traveling on foot scavenging for food and crossing these mountains is basically pretty screwed. I am in decent shape and love to hike. Still, these hills are not easily crossed. Anyone "heading to the hills" better have their gear in order, a pre-defined route, and plenty of food and lots of practice. That equals about 1-2% of the population.

EMP, Economic Collapse, or Nuclear War, as the East Coast goes, I think we in the Shenandoah Valley and beyond (West Virginia) have a better chance of dodging the bullet than most. I will take those odds and for numerous reasons. See for yourself. This region is not a known nuclear target (or at least if it is, it is not being published.) In an EMP Collapse, unless autos work, as mentioned above, few people are going to be crossing these mountains. In an economic collapse, I surmise everyone will be just as screwed and be lucky to have the needed gas to drive here, and the stragglers that do come out this way would actually be few in number.

I believe there are many fine places to live to avoid the societal shit-storms dead-ahead. I've considered other regions, but for one reason or another (finances being one of them of course) am definitely ok with the Northern Shenandoah Valley region. Here is my list of the pros that make this region and those around it an excellent choice for a retreat locale:

1.) Beautiful and remote without being in BFE. The valley is about 70 miles from Washington, DC. You are close to the amenities and resources of a major metropolitan city yet isolated by rugged terrain from it.

2.) Excellent growing season and soil. Water, springs, rivers, creeks, and brookes are available in abundance. It is an outdoorsman's paradise.

3.) Where I live in particular, disgruntled mountain folk still dwell in high numbers. They are survivors and have an air of ruggedness. They do not like outsiders. This isn't always good, but these people are not fools. They don't trust others easily.

4.) Not downwind of nuclear power. Lake Anna is 63 miles away, but the Shenandoah is nearly always upwind of that locale.

For me at least, these considerations make this area an attractive place for preppers who have or want to live on the East Coast. I'd say most rural places in the Valley are pretty sweet locations for all of the above mentioned reasons. I think there are other places up and down the Eastern Seaboard that meet much of this criteria as well, but you have to look for them.

The final consideration is that in life and in the days ahead, we will need each others' skills and talents to survive. No man is an island for long, or generally wants to be when it comes to providing essentials for oneself and others, regardless of how self-sufficient.

Anyhow, if you have found this article online and have a question about the Shenandoah, be sure to comment in the notes.

In the mean time, stay safe out there.