Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Wood Heat



It's a thing I love to talk about and learn about--heating with wood. Some might call it pyromania, but it's always been my dream to have a hearth and heat with it. It's a most natural inclination, perhaps, and I believe it's the most satisfying.

I just got back after seeing "The Road," so this blog-post is partly an attempt to focus my mind on something other than the movie's disturbing portrayal of TEOTWAWKI. If you are seeking a movie that's depressing but very well done, check it out. After watching it, I think I need to purchase more shotgun shells.

Anyway, woodheat. This is my second season of heating our house entirely with wood heat. This year, we've turned on the furnace mostly for convenience's sake, and at that only a handful of times. Our propane furnace is efficient, but propane is wicked expensive. Hence we try to avoid it whenever possible, using it only as a back up.

Wood: In some ways, a wood heater is only as good as the wood you feed it. I am presently burning our seasoned reserves, and the differences between seasoned wood and unseasoned wood are stark. With seasoned wood, you increase your burn times immensely, in addition to your heat output. There is also less ceocrete (soot) to worry about forming in your chimeny. Seasoned wood costs more, but you'll get more from it.

I've been heating entirely from scavenged wood. In the fall I began taking a chunk a day from work, splitting and stacking it in the present pile area. Works well, but it takes a while when all you have is Mustang trunk. Ideally, I would have split and stacked all the wood I needed for winter back in the early days of Spring. Nine months or longer is the ideal seasoning time, and the longer the better. Anyway, I was not able to make it happen back in the spring, but this year, now that life seems a little more normal, I'll be making it happen.

Stove: I have a used Jotul F3 woodstove. It's sweet except that it's made for a combustor, which I don't use. The combustors burn up excess emissions on these models and were known, supposedly, for clogging quickly. I have followed the previous owner's recommendation of not using it and the stove works fine.

That being said, while it is a pretty stove, I wish it had a larger fire box. I would like to load it up at night and not have to worry about waking up to feed it. So the bigger the box the better in terms of loading frequency and heat output. If our stove was any larger in our current space, it would take up the whole room and make it a suana. When we add on, God-willing, in the years ahead, we will move the present stove into our living room and purchase a larger version of the one we have for the addition. I will purchasing one to be set up without a catalytic combustor.

Chimney, Flue, & Draft: Sounds like the name of a 70s band, or an English law firm. Anyway, it's critical to make sure your chimney is installed correctly. I don't know much about the process, except that your chimney, like the exhaust system of the car, directly impacts your stove's efficiency and the amount of draft and/or pull you get from it.

This year we have been far more successful, I think, about working the woodstove. That is to say, adjusting the flue and level of draft coming in. Slow burning coals is the goal. Wood selection certainly helps in that regard, but basically it's something for which you acquire the feel for one's particular setup.

Chainsaw and Axe: When I purchase a saw, it will be a STIHL MS390 Farm Boss with a 20" bar. I have one on loan from work, so I am not in dire need. While any saw will do, chainsaws are touchy beasts and have to be loved and used frequently so the engine does not develop issues. Chainsaws are easily the most dangerous hand tool out there, with some 50,000 accidents occuring every year. I follow these main rules when sawing:

1.) Do not cut when I am tired (most chainsaw accidents occur at the end of the day);
2.) Do not cut with my body directly behind the saw;
3.) If I feel uncomfortable for any reason about cutting, I calmly stop and reassess the situation. Sometimes I just walk away.

I have heard wood splitting be called everything from a "pain in the ass" to "soul-building." For me it's mostly the latter. I love splitting wood. It's great exercise and gets your mind off stupid crap. My personal axe is a light, flanged head True Temper with fiberglass handle. Thing works great for my style of splitting and is an essential tool out here on the homestead.

Peace Out,

--Nick-Dog

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow Preps


(The view from our yard after the 2009 Blizzard.)

Well, we were plastered with 22 inches of snow this past weekend. It was gorgeous and amazing to behold, and fun to go play in. My play consisted in shoveling out my walkway, deck, and top of the driveway. Below are my wintry thoughts and reflections on being prepared for serious snow.

1.) Shovel. I purchased a new industrial grade shovel at Lowes before the storm hit. It's not a snow shovel at all, but a fiberglass square shovel made for shoveling loose debris. This makes a whole lot more sense to me for my situation and is a lot more functional year round for tasks other than snow shoveling. Because of it's smaller size, it's also much more versatile, as in handling the 3 foot snow drifts in front of my driveway.

2.) Tractor. Wish I had one. My neighbor came over with his Kubota with front-end loader, to push the drifts back from the corners of my driveway so the snow plows wouldn't plow me in. What took him 10 minutes would have taken me 10 hours. It's on the list of nice to haves down the road, along with that diesel Ford truck.

3.) Snow vehicle. I have a Jeep Wrangler 4x4 equiped with new 31 inch mud tires. This thing kicks astroids in all kinds of inclement weather. Storms, snow, whatever. Though it's not very spacious inside, it gives us an edge if we need to bug out. God-willing, after tax time, she'll be paid for and be my permenant BOV.

4.) Heat Source. That is, other than electric based. Even my propane furnace has electric controls, so we'd be screwed if we lost power and didn't have a wood stove. It happened last year for a couple of hours, during an ice storm and temps in the single digits. Luckily, I was able to get a fire started.

5.) Wood, that is, if you heat with it. It is critical to protect your wood and make it accessible before a big snow. I spent the first hour of the blizzard hauling 3-4 days of wood into our enclosed porch. Walking for 80 ft. through 2ft snow drifts to gather wood sucks and should be avoided at all possible.

6.) Generator with fuel. Damn, I wish I had one. Had we lost power, having a generator would allow me to run my furnace (that is, if it was a hardwired genny back up). I am considering investing in a propane back-up for that very reason. It would also give the ability to run the well (for which I would like a bison hand pump).

7.) Chainsaw with treated fuel, bar oil, and extra chain. Again, I wish I had one. I use the one at work for all my wood cutting, but in an emergency, a chainsaw is an unbeatable tool to have to deal with fallen trees or emergency demolition. And, of course, cut your woodstove wood.

8.) Food and water. This should probably be at the top of the list, but this applies for all emergencies, not just snow.

9.) Ice pellets. I bought a bag of this stuff for the walkway to our vehicles. Hopefully it will work well and last for the duration of the snow melt.

10.) Plenty of coffee, tea, and hot chocolate. There's nothing like a warm beverage to boost morale and warm up your spirits after time out in the cold. Before and after shoveling, a hot beverage makes your labors seem less cumbersome than they were and helps you relax and warm up quickly. When you are warm you are able to work better and less prone to injury.

In closing, I would like to say that the ability to keep up with a storm as it's falling is critical to making it a fun event instead of a crisis event.

Peace Out. Merry Christmas.

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, December 06, 2009

157th Post

Can't believe I've put up that many, but I am glad that I have.

I skipped a week since I've been busting a move on an editing project I'm tackling. I am about 10 yards away from the goal line at this point, in the final minute of the game, but you know how long that takes. I am looking forward to finishing this behemoth because it will free me up for all the stuff in life that has been on the backburner.

Yesterday, we spotted a red fox bound through the yard as the snow continued to fall. It was awesome. Right outside our kitchen window and then *shoom*, off into the forest behind our shed. I'm sure he had lots of tricks up his sleeve. He was freakin beautiful. Not the kind of animal I'd want to shoot or hunt, just the kind I want to admire. I'll save the guns for the bobcats.

I've been obtaining a greater appreciation of the versatility of the shotgun lately. I think this comes from my reading at www.wethearmed.com, www.madogre.com, and Martin's Blog. (I know I should be working, but sometimes you need a break). You can just set them up in so many different ways to do a variety of things, including handle SHTF. Two Remington 870s and 2 Glocks and you have plenty of firepower and reliability to take care of most situations.

That's going to be my standard advice for SHTF gun questions and discussions from now on. Two and two. If you can't defend yourself with this stuff, you probably need to reevaluate your plan. I recall watching a video of an Arizona home-owner repelling 4-5 armed thugs, one of whom had an AR, with a shotgun. If you need more than that, you are probably defending the castle wall against an onslaught of zombies, or taking the castle.

Right now I am running a Maverick 88, which was given to me as a wedding present. It's a great gun, especially with the 18.5 in HD barrel. I have it set up with 2 3/4 00BK. It's not very tacticool, but I have 100% confidence in it's reliability. I'm considering purchasing another one for redundancy before buying some 870s. Having two of the exact same setup is a powerful way to go, IMO, and makes for a good armory.

Ok, over and out. I have work to do.

--Nick-Dog

Saturday, November 21, 2009

More on Staying Prepared



Staying prepared. Just a couple of comments today because I am under a deadline.

Two things I have done to increase my overall preparedness, that have made my life better/easier overall:

1.) I put together a preparedness journal stating my own personal goals, it charts my progress on projects that I have a round the house. I call it a preparedness journal, but really it's more like a Captain's Log. If I have a brilliant idea, or question about something meaningful that I don't want to forget, or simply a goal I want to achieve, like cleaning the shed, I write it down. There's just so much stuff to keep track of these days, I now have to write things down if I want to accomplish anything, or I forget or feel overwhelmed by it all.

More on that: As I've mentioned previously, life flies by so quick, before you know it another day as passed. If one hasn't been diligent about his or her projects, suddenly you ask yourself where the week has gone and what have I really accomplished.

Looking back over your journal, where you've crossed out things that need to be done, projects that you've planned for or that have come up, it's a lot easier to note your progress and chart your trajectory. There's just a sense of much reduced anxiety and aimlessness. You see where you're going and where you've been. Much like a ship at sea, if you have no focal point on the horizon, but land behind you, you look back every so often to a point you've picked out and line it up with your stern. You keep your eye on that point every so often to make sure you are on course.

2.) Making sure I have a knife, multitool, and flashlight on my at all times. (When I am not at work, I add a sidearm to this list) Everywhere I go, I keep these essential tools with me, not in a 72-hour bag I rarely use. I purchased a Maxpedition M-2 (shown above) belt pouch, which Clare jokes with me is a fanny pack, though it's not. It's about the size of a mid-level digital camera case, and it has been invaluable. I keep all my daily carry gear in here and there's lots of room to spare, as in for an extra magazine, matches, a bit of medication or first aid items. This little buddy seams to be built to last and has been an awesome purchase.

I just want to emphasize how life gets easier when you have the tools you need on you or close by. Now that it's daylight savings time, I can't tell you how helpful it is to have an LED flashlight on hand, or at work to have a coouple of knives and a flashlight with me at all times. Life become easier, and what used to be a pain in the arse, becomes easily manageable.

Having appropriate tools also makes you less likely to skip a step in looking out for your safety. I am especially thinking of a flashlight. Having a flashlight at night as you are walking to the wood pile, or to your car, gives you an advantage, psychologically as well as physically. The last thing you want is a critter sneaking up on you nearby, especially if it's a vagrant or your own cat who's trying to stalk you. :)

Peace out yos.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Inspiration vs. Perspiration

"Just do it."

I often spend oodles of time looking for the inside scoop. Too much time. Speaking for myself, there comes a point when you should just be aware of the main points, make an informed decision, and move forward.

That can be hard to do, with so many distractions pounding it's way into our daily lives. Whether it be through entertainment or work, it is easy to become sidetracked, distracted, and even uninspired to take command and do the stuff that should and needs to be done. Even when at home, family life has a way of taking priority--as it should--over the best laid plans.

Sooner or later, however, a moment of opportunity presents itself. You have the time to do "it," whatever "it" may be. After days of rain and cold, the sun begins to shine once again. One has the time, but does one have the will?

Doing what needs to be done when it's uncomfortable or not-entertaining in some way, determines how much we can truly accomplish. If we remain complacent until the angle of the moon and the sun meets our perfect standards, chances are we will be waiting for a long time.

So let me finish this rambling post with a thought: sometimes it's simply time to get off our ass and get to work.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Back on the Mat



(Me training outside in Reno in October 2004)

After more than a year hiatus, I returned to the dojo to train in earnest and watch a nidan (2nd Degree Black Belt) test. I also was able to see the new dojo for the first time, and it is truly awesome.

It felt good to launch some people and scream while swinging a heavy stick at people for an hour. My nerves are still tingling from feeling totally alive out on the mat. As I have taken my place in my new life in Front Royal, I felt I duly took my place in the new dojo, which had been inaugurated by the visit of Saito Hitohiro Sensei from Iwama Japan two weeks ago. It was really just amazing to be a part of this place and be standing in the fulfillment of many, many long hours of planning and hard work.

For those of you who don't know, back in May 2002 I joined Aikido in Fredericksburg as an enthusiastic and devoted young martial artist, aspiring to be the embodiment of martial grace and strength gleaned from long hours of hard training. My sensei had only recently moved from Reno, where he was sensei of many years, to Fredericksburg, VA, with the intention of building a world-class dojo on his own property with quarters for uchi-deshi (live-in students) and plenty of space besides for training. An East Coast Iwama headquarters, if you will.

I followed the group from the time it rented a dusty corner dojo as part of a quasi-martial arts co-op in a deserted mini-mall, training once in the parking lot at night because someone had locked the door. To training in a moldy big box gymanistics stadium/roller rink, which had the most irritating boom box music playing for the pom-pom group.

To retrofitting an industrial complex into a serious albeit temporary training space, which is where I took my black belt test. Indeed, I had always wanted to be a part of the core group of a dojo start up, and this dream of mine, like so many others, was realized.

My life then moved away from active Aikido training for awhile, but today I know my training and presence in the new dojo was my re-initiation to the serious study of the martial ways. I won't be down there often enough to sign up for a monthly membership, but often enough that I can begin to hone my own skills and take the journey to nidan myself in a couple of years and to places beyond.

I am looking forward to it and some better health in the process.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Accomplishments de Weekend

I expanded my pantry by 50% or so with the addition of new homemade shelves. It took forever because it just always does around here. But now I can breathe easier, as our mud room/furnace room/craft room/pantry is more organized with items no longer living haplessly on the floor.

I also replaced an outlet in the process, organized the entire pantry, and took stock of our stores. In the process, I found several items that were at large and others about which I had totally forgotten, such as preserves from some place up in Niagra that was given to us over the summer. Cool.

Lastly, I purchased the special 20th Anniversary Issue of Backwoods Home Magazine, whose website is now in the links section here at the Update, along with The Survival Podcast. Both are excellent resources for everything you need to know on prepping for SHTF or homesteading. Well worth the look.

I just wanted to vent here that I feel so much better now that the new shelf has been built and in play. It's been on my mind for a long time. The place just feels better with most of the crap of the floor in it's own proper place, and that's what were going for here. Organization.

So that's it from me for now. 2 posts in 2 days. Peace out, yos.

--Nick-Dog

Friday, October 30, 2009

Creating a Good "End Game"

Ok, I know it's a been nearly 3 weeks since you got an Update. I just haven't been inspired to write a post. I've been mostly in absorption mode, focusing on my own trajectory out here in the back country. Well, it's not that back, being within an hour and 10 from D.C., but far enough. Another hour and 10 and you are on the fringe of civilization, Walden style.

In chess, you have various stages of the game: the opening, the middle game, and the end game. Masters and advanced players orient their entire strategy from the first move to a successful end game. If they win in the middle, excellent. That's good too. But generally speaking, getting up a pawn and obtaining a superior tactical position, one way or the other, is where victory is found.

This has had me thinking about my own "end game," in life that is. When all is said and done, what does that "end game" look like? What factors are it contingent on? What am I gaming for? Is the result I am dreaming of obtainable now? And so on.

I've got a lot to say on this topic, but if I lived the way I've seen others do, by age 65 I would own jack shit, be up to my ears in debt, and need to work until I was 75+ just to continue keeping up with my lifestyle. That's not retirement, that's slavery.

I plan on owning my own house, being mortage free, and relatively self-sufficient by age 45, if not much sooner. I don't want to wait until I am 65 to retire. Hell no. WTF is that? Seriously. Are any of you juiced about working yourself into a grave? I think it's important to give of yourself throughout your life. That's different. Hopefully, well before 65 you are only working to be a contributor and because you enjoy it, not because you need to to avoid collections.

But becoming free of this mindset doesn't just happen, however. One must live differently and make savvy financial choices and sacrifices now. An early retirment is built now. An excellent quality of life is built now. It's not a free trip to cloud 9 just because one has turned 65. Do the things you love now, before you are too damn old to care about doing them, if God forbid, you are destined to be that crochety. Give a shit today about your future, before it's too late.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Finding an Edge



(Photo from Toolmonger.com; planes by Steve Knight)

I've been spending a significant amount of time this week learning the finer points of carpentry and joinery at the level of creating wood furniture, such as tables, cutting boards, case etc. It has given me a deeper appreciation for the amount of effort, time, and skill that goes into making a custom piece of furniture. Of course, you can bang some 2x4s and plywood together and have something functional, but it would be crude.

What got me started on this path is a combination of things. As a maintenance guy I have to fix or replace stuff all the time, and what I discover is that such and such a thing is meant to break because it was made like junk to begin with--essentially some kind of saw dust and glue (MDF) with a veneer on top attached by a few screws. Mass produced garbage.

Even a lot of high end furniture, if it wasn't built entirely by hand, is a kind of MDF with veneer, albeit of a higher grade than the wal-mart variety. Most of your modern cabinetry, same thing. I've seen "custom" shops at home shows sell cabinetry that is just MDF with venneer but market their product as hand-made. Huh? If it's not wood, it's not wood. Fake wood is not wood. Sawdust and glue is wannabe wood and doesn't count.

Anyway, seeing the lack of quality out there and the attached price, I'd rather spend the money and the time at this point to make my own custom furniture, than pay somebody else for most things to buy a piece of crap. I want my furniture to last generations, to feel permeneant, not fake.

So quality and affordability are definitely motivating factors for me, notwithstanding the cost of tools, which gets expensive once you start purchasing things like jointers and planers. That said, once I make some stuff and am confident in my own products, I will begin to sell them and pay for those tools. Besides I need to find an edge as a maintenance guy.

Right now, I am still somewhat at the level of learn on the fly, jack of all trades . I can do a lot of the basics confidently at work, and even at higher levels of proficiency in some areas, but I need a more thorough grounding in a trade on which to build. Fine woodworking is it for me. I want to get to log cabin building, honestly, but I do not have the capital let alone the time and equipment to do more than study how cabins are built. I am not sure which I'd like better, fine wood working or log cabin building, but what I do know is that I'd like to put my wood furniture in my log cabin.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Monday, October 05, 2009

Driven

This morning, I drove to work under the cover of a bright full moon. I was focused and on my way to work early to handle an electrical problem, and thank heavens, or the creator of Heaven rather, that it was solved with the flick of a breaker.

That said, I began to reflect on my thoughts over the weekend regarding the future and even present demise of the dollar. I am not an economist, but I know enough about liberals and failed states to understand that you cannot create money out of thin air, bury yourself in debts that you cannot repay, and expect to become or remain fiscally solvent.

What happens to an individual in America when they borrow what they cannot or will not pay back? Their credit rating tanks and banks will no longer lend to them. They are destroyed financially from the perspective of the lender and it usually takes years to repair the damage.

Well, guess the hell what? The federal government does not have a credit score per se, but has over $53 TRILLION DOLLARS in unfunded obligations, a.k.a., social security, medicare and medicaid. Does the federal government ever intend to honor this debt. NFW. It just won't. Perhaps they are trying to tank the currency intentionally so that they can pay the debt off in worthless dollars, but it would destroy the country in the process.

Obama Breadline America is not something I am looking forward to, but is inevitable to my mind on our current economic trajectory. China has done more than saber-rattling with other countries to discuss moving away from the dollar as a reserve currency for the world. Now they, our biggest enemy, are plotting with the arabs to trade oil in a currency other than the dollar, which is bad for the U.S. in terms of its financial and political dominance.

My point: we are screwing ourselves royally. Most Americans do not realize that we are sitting on a powder keg that is about to blow our asses into the sky in 53 trillion different ways. We need to claim back our individual liberty and the spirit of rugged individualism. Not just in the political arena, but the way we live our lives every day.

I am not a shill for the tin-foil hat crowd. Empires have risen and fallen since the dawn of history. We simply cannot take America's greatness for granted. The time is long past for complacence. The "shining city on a hill" will only remain glorious for as long as we are willing to preserve it and stay driven in our vigilance to keep it bright.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Morning Production

Well, it's been a darn fast week. I woke up extra early yesterday and beat the Koreans to the spring and the sun to the horizon. Out in the middle of nowhere, between VA and WV, I was glad I was packing heat. It can be eerie when you are out there alone. Last time, I was with companions and nearly accosted by a baying dog. Luckily for him he was more bark than bite.

Still, the spring itself is a naturally peaceful place and still flowing well, given the lack of rain in recent weeks. I finished quickly and just sat down to roll out as the next patron rolled in. The early bird gets the spring water, or something like that.

The parts counter at Chrysler opened at 8, and I had all the water delivered and put away at home by about that time. I had to order a small contact terminal for the center high-mounted brake light over the tire on the jeep and install it to pass Virginia's draconian inspection procedure. It came, but without the rubber grommet I needed to mount it in the hole. Fortunately, for me it was early. My red tag was about to expire and the inspection shop I went to stops taking vehicles at 11:15. I had 3 hours--plenty of time for some coffee and mechanical work.

I went across the street from Chysler to Napa Auto Parts and came away with a 10-pack or so of small rubber grommets that I thought would work. After I came home and had a cup of coffee with my lovely wife, I started my second and went to the shed where I parked the Jeep.

The challenge? Getting the wires that had falled into the fenderwell somewhere back into their respective holes. Having worked with electricians, fishing wire is not foriegn to me. So I fished the pilot wire through their holes, checked the other terminals to see which was black and which was white, and go to work connecting the pilot wire to the lost wires and fished them back through.

I used two rubber grommets to achieve the right space, actually, closed the gate, tested it and shizam, the light worked. And with plenty of time to spare. Victory!

The mechanic even asked me how I did this, so I figured I saved myself some significant coin. It's stuff like this I enjoy doing on my Jeep, where I actually have a clue, the time, can break the rules a bit, and achieve the desired result. It was even more fun with the caffiene and being so near all of my tools. (I usually have to drag them across my property because I am working on the upper driveway, where it's flat).

I got all this done by noon and spent the rest of the rainy day inside, watching Robin Hood (the version for T.V. from 1991--I've always wanted to watch it) and doing some serious study of chess with Jeremy Silman's book, How to Reassess Your Chess. So far it's excellent and I am really enjoying it. Playing online or general is great, but at some point you need to take the time to study the game if you really want to improve. It's just amazing that I was able to do this today, considering the mayhem that generally ensues around here.

In general, I just like it not to be under the gun so much these days by projects around the house. There's still plenty to do, but the urgency is less because things are getting done and ungodly apple pies, made from our trees' apples, are being consumed.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Twi-lite Musings

This evening, we had clear skies and a rosy sunset, my absolute favorite. It was just fabulous to be outside, tinkering around, watching the sunset, the cat, my daughter run around with her balloon, and the transplantation of our zebra tomatoe plants. Wow, life is truly sweet today.

So much to talk about. This morning, I woke early, did some bokken work and stretched before my children came to join me in the living room. Once I was able to escape outside, I tackled the relatively simple project of stapling two new screens up on our porch where the other screens had been ripped. My main concern is my adventurous daughter climbing and then spilling off the porch, scathed or unscathed. It had been on my mind for months to do this, but I never seemed to be able to get around to it. Now that it's done, it frees up energy for other things and I can breathe easier.

We hit the farmers market, which had been picked pretty clean. That's what happens when you go late in the day, I suppose, but I was really just tagging along. When it comes to the pantry, my lovely wife has all of our bases covered, pretty much.

We then ventured over to the Front Royal flea market, one of the better all-around flea markets out there. I mean, you can still find sweet deals there. Over the years I have found all sorts of wonderful, neat items, such as Spanish swords and block prints of the surrender of Granada.

Today, I came across a scoped Marlin 336W lever-action in 30-30. As mentioned previously, this gun in the SC version is one that I want, I'm just not paying $375 for it. There's lots of these guns out there, so supply is not an issue. I will bide my time and save, as much as I would just love to have one "today."

From there, we soon ended up at the Ole Time Festival of Edinburg, VA. We visited some llamas, toured the old mill/musuem, and checked out crafts and shops. I also discovered Murray's Fly Shop!

Earlier this year, I experienced what could only be called the "call of the fish." Without even knowing "why" exactly, I wanted to be fly-fishing for trout on rivers and creeks. It was like waking up one day, and boom, you just know you need to be fishing. No rhyme or reason. Just boom. That said, I actually want to have a clue about what the hell I'm doing, so I have been wanting to take fly fishing classes locally at a reasonable price. Well, now it seems like I have found the right place to begin!

I have also discovered another amazing place, this one online, called the Wood Whisperer. Notwithstanding the cheezy-ass name, this is an awesome resource for serious wood work for both the advanced and beginners. I want to take my knowledge of carpentry to the next level, and this seems like a great location to do that. It's what got me back outside today in the shed, making it a more organized space where my tools are actually accessible. They used to be, but you know how it is....

Over & Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Bug-Out Chic

Weekend Accomplishments



So we went down to Charlottesville this weekend to check out the Heritage Harvest Festival. As noted in the video, with the exception of the view, the event was a serious bust. There was one or two decent booths, but the emaciated liberal eco-scum that inhabit environments like this appalls me. They say they believe in sustainable farming, but are the same drones who support Obama and his draconian energy policies, which will drive farmers out of business.

Notwithstanding the above, the view was breathtaking; the weather, superb. A great day for a tea party.

On Sunday, I spent a leisurely afternoon building shelves in our utility room to accommodate and showcase our canned goods. It turned out a lot better than I thought it would. I seriously enjoyed my time with the jigsaw, getting into the rhythm of notching the shelves. I got lucky with my template on the first shot, obtaining a mostly tight fit between the supporting beams on the wall. Frankly, it was just kick ass to be outside in the shed, cutting wood on a cool, sunny afternoon.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Hero

I just wanted to make a quick post to salute representative Joe Wilson, R-S.C., for giving the Obama the proverbial middle finger during his Castro-esk health care pep talk. "You lie!" was his actual comment, but it definitely had the effect of the bird.
Representative Wilson later called to apologize, saying "his emotions got the best of him" and that his comment was "inappropriate." You know what, it was perfectly appropriate. Screw propriety. The country's future is on the line and we are supposed to be concerned about ettiquette and offending Obama? Ettiquette be damned. The representative represents the people, and that's how the people feel.
Welcome to the tea party Comrade Obama. You are a damn liar and have sounded this country's death knell with your reckless policies.
Over and Out,
--Nick-Dog

Monday, September 07, 2009

Amish Driveby


Doesn't happen often, but when it does, it looks cool. :)

I am enjoying the long weekend, with today being sort of "Labor at home" day. I am in between putting up pieces of drywall in the eternal bathroom renovation/rebuild project. I have already succeeded in giving myself a haircut, and we are prepparing to can a slew of seckle pears from our tree, which has produced wonderfully this year.

We are trying to get our stock in order and trying harder to make use of the produce from our fruit trees. We are also planning in earnest to do some serious planting in the Spring for our garden. Actually we have two, an herb/vegetable garden and a purely vegetable garden, the latter being a large one. Because the deer and groundhog sacked the plants away from the house, I will be building a fence in the future in addition to clearning our raspberry patch.

There's lots to do, and complicate that with renovating a house at the same time, it makes it difficult to prioritize, let alone find the cash. So many projects too little time.

I wanted to get this off my chest: I recently had a run in with one of the county inspectors for my work. He was damn rude to me, and so I filed a respectfully written complaint with his HR department. Within 24 hours I not only had a response from the county's HR dept, but also I had his boss calling me on the phone to apologize, explain the situation, and beg to give the guy another chance. I think this will be the last time the haughty inspector screws up like this. Sometimes the pen is mightier than the sword. That's why I train with both. :)

Anyway, one point I drew from this experience is how some bureaucrats take themselves so seriously, are so into their codes and so forth, that they cannot be plainly spoken with about a point of concern. No, you have to go to the supreme boss at HR, file a complaint, make the guy scared of losing his job (if you are lucky enough to have them take you seriously) and so forth, to get his attention. Imagine if this was a faceless bureaucrat for government run health care, making the decision about whether or not your son or daughter dies. This would be a nightmare scenario to say the least.

Pres. Obama, you are not my doctor, comrade.

Finally, I just wanted to include in this update that I have been listening to www.thesurvivalpodcast.com. I really enjoy listening in and have been especially getting into his recommendations for year round gardening. I just can't read a book on gardening--to damn boring for me right now--but I can listen to someone passionate talk about it, especially while I wash the dishes.

Alright, over and out. Enjoy your Labor Day, yo's.

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Update to Sidebar

Hey folks, it's Sunday morning, bright and sunny. This week zipped by, but for me that's been a good thing. School is starting, and the teachers and administration were in all out panic mode to get prepped. We got 'em where they needed to be, but as always there is plenty of work waiting for me when I get back tomorrow.

You'll notice a few more goodies on the sidebar in the links section. For the survival-minded, I put in a link to Ferfal, aka "Surviving in Argentina," which will fan the flames of urgency to be prepared. While we are not Argentina, the rapid decline of a once prosperous country is eye-opening and shocking. Ferfal has posted religiously and is something of an icon for modern survivalists. I've read his blog from start-to-finish, and it's well-worth your time. Lots of shit that you probably never knew happened, happened. It's enlightening and somewhat scary.

Also in the mix, as promised, is a link to WetheArmed.com. Started by Madogre and a couple of other guys, there's tons of good technical info on there for the firearms enthusiast-connossueir. It's also the only gun forum I can view while at work (as in during lunch). The rest have been blocked by the new firewall for "weapons."

I tout around a Phantom Light Holster everyday from Raven Concealment Systems, and now they are in the sidebar. Their store is over at The Malabar Front, a reference to the line of resistance of the Orwellian state. Considering where things are going right now in this country, the title is appropo.

Finally, I added Jethro Tull to the side bar. As most of you know, I am a Tull fanatic and have been for a long time. Ian Anderson is the musical genius behind the band, not to mention Martin Barre. While their music is modern rock with influences from various times and cultures, the band is perhaps best known for Ian's sometimes classy, sometimes crazy minstrel persona that comes out in their music.

That's it for now. Enjoy your week.

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, August 23, 2009

24, 1984, preps



Well, we just finished Season 4 of 24 a few days ago. As I mentioned earlier, this has been the best season by far. Non-stop domination. There were so many great scenes in this installment, it's tough to pick out the best. One of my favorites is the staged robbery scene from which the above pic has been taken. This shows Jack at his best--on the edge!

I recently finished reading 1984 by George Orwell. Not the most edifying work, but I am glad I've read it. Now I know what all the hype is about. You can basically read the first 50 or 60 pages and get the gist of the world. The rest of the story is just the author's sick and twisted sense of humor being perpetrated on his hapless audience.

At present, I'm reading the Aeneid for leisure and A.G Sertillanges The Intellectual Life for study. At about this time every year, I start feeling the back to school ju-ju in the air, feeling that I should be studying, even though study is not presently a requirement for anything in particular in my vocation. I find myself fancying grad school and embarking on some great work of scholarship, but this never materializes. In about a month or so this present desire will give way to my desire for the smell of burning leaves, chopping wood, and hanging out by the wood stove.

I have more than half a cord of wood or so. It's split, stacked, and dried. I will likely purchase a couple cords in the coming months for the heating season and forgo the incessant foraging. I love cutting and chopping wood, but I want to spend my time in the garden patch this winter, clearing brush and debris. I am sure I will get some wood splitting in somewhere along the way, though. Propane is just ungodly expensive when you are getting filled up every two months. We will see how heating with wood goes.

I watched a documentary called Urban Dangertoday, available online. Actually, I skimmed through the last half of it. An interesting albeit cheesy documentary on homesteading/prepping. There's some good points about self-sufficiency and living off the land made in it, but unless you are a devoted or beginning prepper, it's probably just really lame. Myself, I picked up a few good tips from U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, a depression survivor who built a neat little cabin in the hills. If you decide to watch any of it, his cabin walk-through is the best part. The rest you can skip.

Ok, that's it for now. Hope you all had a great weekend.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Forest Walk, Creek Swim...



Today, Clare and I went with some of the Hatkes down to a secluded spot, pictured above, in Passage Creek. The creek, about 5-8 minutes from our house, winds through Fort Valley and a narrow gorge, terminating at the Shenandoah river. The creek, possibly the cleanest creek in the state, is stocked with Trout several times a year, and though it gets fished hard, has many neat spots for fishing.

The spot pictured above is actually the swimming hole we visited, although only half of it is shown and the water was a bit lower today. One really nifty thing about this location is that there is a bit of a sandy shoal on which to hang out and launch your swimming expedition. It is actually quite deep in the middle of the creek, with enough space to do laps if that's your fancy, or jump off the rope swing.

Me, I was just happy to get in the water. The setting is almost western, with plenty of yellow pine lining the canyon. The relaxing sound of water splashing into the basin creates a splendid backdrop on which to relax and enjoy yourself, provided there are no yocals.

Actually we passed some yocals today as we slowly meandered toward our spot. Unfortunately, "Ginger," what looked to be a pit-bill mix, was not taking too kindly to our passage and starting to get out of hand. Its owners took control of the situation and further secured the leash, but it was certainly not the way I was hoping to start off our time at the creek.

As I watched this scenario unfold before me, I was going into the "zone," wherein the mind and body become broadly focused on the totality of a situation in preparation for a martial response. In this case, that was response was to draw my sidearm and put a 124 gr. hollow point bullet in the animal's rib cage. I am certainly glad it did not come to that, but it was one of those moments in which I was glad I was carrying. I would have not wanted to look on in horror, helpless, while watching someone get mauled.

For the record, I love dogs, but if you are out in public with an unsecured and potentially hostile animal, I will ask questions later--after I save my own ass.

In any event, it did not come to that and no sooner had we arrived then we had the place to ourselves. Swimming in the creek was uber-relaxing, the kind of thing you see in a tourist advertisement for a particular state or park. It was a real blessing to be able to spend a good chunk of our day there, and I look forward to returning.

Peace Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Antietam

So I finally made the pilgrimage out to Antietam. All I can say is, "Wow. This is a civil war enthusiast's dream."

We made the drive up via Harpers Ferry and Boonsboro, Md. Scenic and beautiful, we overshot our left turn to Sharpsburg by several miles. As it turns out, our turn wasn't marked by a sign, or at least well-marked, from the direction we came. But as we double-backed, we were dutifully guided by a hallowed brown sign. Thank goodness.

We crossed over the "middle bridge" of the battlefield continuing through Sharpsburg to get a feel for the town. Civil war historians do not lie when they call this town "small but quaint." The architecture is indeed quite pretty and pleasant to behold, especially when considering that the town, because of the war, is a historic landmark.

To the town's east is the National Battlefield. I do not think I can do it justice but I will try. The visitor's center is small but exciting. There were more live presentations at the center scheduled in one day than some battlefields get in an entire year. (Or so it seemed to me.)

On top is a glass enclosed observation deck that commands a stunning view of 2/3 of the terrain.
From that vantage point outside, we had the privilege of sitting in on a "battlefield orientation" in which the essential details of the battle were explained flawlessly and dramatically by the park ranger. I loved it. We are talking no-holds-barred pure and utter domination here. It was like being in a classroom, but instead of a chalk board behind the teacher, there stood, in it's full array of glory, mile upon glorious mile of exquisitely preserved battlefield.

Yes, it is clear that this is a civil war buff's true bastion. After the orientation, inside the observation deck, there was a presentation on the rifles of the battle and war about to begin, but with 2 fussy children, we needed to move on to snag ice cream and take the driving tour.

This brought us to the "lower" bridge, aka "Burnside's Bridge," the third theatre or front of the battle. Despite the fact that thousands of people died nearby, this edifice is one of the most romantic places I have ever been. It is the stuff of poetry and legend, something that you might find in a collection of writings by Wordsworth or Tennyson. I initially didn't want to stop because we had just got the girls situated, but all of them protested a mere driveby. And I am glad they did.

After jetting out of Sharpsburg, we crossed the Potomac into Shepardstown, Wv. and were delighted to discover a cool town. Home to a university, Shepardstown, founded in 1720, while small, boasts a street that is like a "Diagon Alley" for Nick and Clare. Cafes, book nooks, boutiques, and other interesting establishments line the street from end to end, begging further exploration. We'll return, but I'll be sure to avoid the cafe with the usual liberal propaganda hung all over the place.

In sum, Antietam is a fantastic place to visit. Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway with plenty of stuff nearby to visit and see. We will definitely be back.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tactical Considerations

I've been spending a lot of time of late at www.wethearmed.com--I'll be adding it to the sidebar--which is an excellent site for the firearms enthusiast. Very intelligent techinical discussion on a wide variety of topics. The site also happens to be unblocked by the new firewall at work, which allows me to read something interesting during my lunch break other than the headlines at Drudge. It appears there is a problem with the topic of 'weapons.'

Please.

I've been investigating outdoor range options here locally ever since our bodacious trip to the midwest. On our way back, I visited the Linden Conservation Club with Martin S. in Indiana, and it was a true good ol' boy experience. They have a skeet setup that is enviably boss, with various automated clay launching stations to test your abilities at a variety of angles. Really cool and incredibly reasonable in terms of the price, not to mention the occasional serving of complimentary beans.

The local Izaak Walton league in Warren County offers some range possibilities, but the devotion to shooting on their vast 155-acre property is sadly lacking as far as I can tell. The IWL is not out-out-the question--the property is gorgeous--I just want to check out all my options first.

Good news. I just heard back from Tactical Machining out of Florida, and they are selling complete uppers for $615. (For those of you who read this and don't know, it's the barrel/top portion of an assualt rifle(AR).) That is a sick deal, considering the availability and quality coming out of their shop. Availability on the AR market as a whole is scarce or insanely overpriced. Another option is Crusader Arms, another new start-up that will produce premium weapons, but there is a premium to the cost as well. I am trying to keep the build under $1000 minus optics.

I love shooting rifles. I really do. I simply can't wait to complete the set up of my first "evil black rifle." My nickname of "Dr. Evil Laugh" will then take on an entirely new meaning.

That's it for now. I am trying to entertain my fiesty red-headed daughter while I type. More later peeps.

--Nick-Dog

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Zen of Oil

(See Clare's Blog for stellar pics of our Chicago vacation.)

It was actually somewhat meditative for me to change the oil and rotate the tires on the Mustang this evening. I didn't realize it until I noticed myself pouring the Mobil 1 Synthetic into the engine rather smoothly, that is, without mishap.

It was pleasant but strange. I half wanted to be outside working, as it was so beautiful this evening, and the other half of me wanted to be inside slouching on the couch, chillaxing. Apparently, I inadvertnetly found some sort of equilibrium and each of those things canceled each other out, while I went through the motions almost as if I was on autopilot.

Sometimes we know what to do to solve a problem or crisis, but want to procrastinate. It's not that the problem is so difficult it can't be solved--we know the steps--we just don't want to put in the time to make whatever solution possible happen. And yet, if we just put in the time, the solution will all come together...eventually.

And yet, as I find myself at the grand age of 30, I do not think kindly of time. As the clock ticks, this world passes away. Opportunities missed are lost to the often misty corridors of memory, to be revisisted only on occasion. As we age, time seems to speed up, making the visitation of memories long past, more difficult, more of a sacrifice.

Today as I was traveling home, a speed demon cut me off from the right, with barely an inch for room to pass. He certainly risked his own life and mine. On the one hand, I feel he deserves to go to prison for the stunt, on the other, what practical recourse does a civilian have in an incident such as this? An accident did not occur, but it could have? I could have become enraged, but what good would it do? I am not a cop, but if I was, I would have placed him in cuffs. And the irony of the situation is that he was only a car ahead of me 10 minutes later when getting off the interestate.

The point is, if there is one in this post, sometimes it is pointless to rush. Timing is everything, as Sun Tzu, I believe, once said. Choose your battles. Time is of the essence. Wasted energy is energy you can't get back. Pray for the bastard and move on.

Peace Out,

--Nick-Dog

Monday, July 13, 2009

Vacation Thoughts

As I write, I am sitting in NW Indiana, looking forward to a day in Chicago, visiting the Shed Aquarium.

The first order of business this morning, however, will be my visit to a relatively local cafe that serves Intellegentsia Coffee that I will bring back for us.

So far this has been an outrageously kick ass trip. My brother and sister came over to my parents impromptu the afternoon of the day we got in and it was just great to have them over and see them. And now that the Bamster has been in office for 6 months, I have tons of ammunition with which to convince the unbelievers in my family that he is a socialist.

Yesterday, Sunday, we went to mass at the Discalced Carmelite Monastery in town, snagged a midwestern skillet at Round the Clock, visited the park, Gayte's Ice Cream, took a neigborhood walk, and went to Cabela's in Hammond, one of my absolute favorite places around.

I saw a used Glock 37 for $400. That's the .45 GAP round. If I was in the market, I would have snapped it up. But I am pretty well set up on firearms for the moment. I do need a back up gun pistol in 9MM for the G17, but that's about the extent of my authentic needs right now. That and an upper, but it will have to wait, too.

Looking forward to the rest of the trip. It's been great. Just wanted to chime in quickly. Peace out yos.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Celebrating Independence Day



This evening I arrived home and put together a little craft project for the Marlin. After reviewing some homemade gun racks online, I gathered some scrap wood from the shed, drew a template, and began cutting some pieces with the Craftsman jigsaw my dad gave me.

I remember this saw vividly from my youth. I had asked my dad to cut 2 scimitars for me for Halloween when I was in 6th grade or so. I was about 12 years old, and watched him cut the curves in the blade with this particular saw. In fact, it's so old school it actually says "Made in the USA" on the side. Try finding an electric anything in the tool world these days with that stated anywhere on the tool and you'll be looking for a long time.

So anyway I took my inherited saw and cut out the template for the rack's sides. After a couple of screw ups and mishaps with breaking them, I finally was able to put together the 2 side pieces on the center piece and hang it over the door. The result, I think, looks quite natural.

I am really proud of this little project. A Coors, some sawdust and a few shots with the nail gun later and it was done. The .22 nestles in the rack perfectly and is easily accessible near the rear door. You never know when you need a long gun for something out here.

As I've stated elsewhere, I purchased this firearm as the "backwoods" gun for the house. The backwoods. Since I was a kid, this word captured the essence of man's life of survival and play with and in nature for me. I went into the backwoods to start fires with my brother, smoke pipes in a lofty tree, fishing, and hone what survival skills I had. In my mind the backwoods has always carried with it a nostalgic, even primal, meaning. It is a word that designates that other place you go as man to be fully man, where the drudgeries of life evaporate and man can naturally seperate the BS from his true self.

Perhaps I am not the only one who thinks like this. There's even a Backwoods Magazine dedicated to conservative homesteading.

You know, it's good to make your own stuff if you can. You have more control over the quality of the process and the outcome. So much is junk these days--MDF kitchen cabinets, for example--and people pay thousands for it. Screw that. I prefer to make my own stuff to be used, and flawed though it may be, I'm proud of it. That's what indedependece is all about.

Happy 4th of July to ye all.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, June 28, 2009

50 yards



Fun with the .22












Below this post is some gun talk, above are some pics from this Sunday afternoon. I bought a .22 LR at a pawn shop, taught Clare to shoot it, and her dad joined in on the fun. I got some video too, which will be up in time. Enjoy!

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Screw the Jar!

Well, this weekend, after visiting Front Royal's new trendy farmers' market on Main Street, I decided to check out the pawn shop across the way for a cheap .22 LR. When I saw the solid looking Marlin Model 80 for $75 (sans clip--I'll have to order one) I couldn't pass on the deal. It just felt right, and that's all I needed to know.

This means I'll have to pass on my allowance for a little while, but so many shooters and homesteaders believe that this handy gun is an essential piece of equipment for everyday country living, I couldn't miss the opportunity to purchase the little Marlin.

After cleaning the gun and firing plenty of rounds, I was feeling strong and decided to bring out my Remington 700 SPS chambered in .300 WSM for the first time. After shooting the .22, the SPS felt like a cannon. After the first shot, I learned real fast that this weapon is presently well-beyond my abilities as a shooter. I now have major respect for large caliber weaponry.

That being said, a whole new world of shooting has opened up for me with that gun, albeit an expensive world. Until I mount a decent scope on it, I will hold off on firing it. It's $2.00 a round for the .300 WSM. For $6, I can purchase 100 rounds of .22 LR, which makes the .22 even more exciting to fire. That, and it's less like to piss off the neighbors.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Early to Rise




I've been up at the crack of dawn several days this week, energetic and ready to go. Even though it's Saturday, the same is true this morning. I guess I have to get some things done...like update my blog. LOL.

This week has been a good week. I am nearing completion of building a new school office for the church. The task is actually rather simple, except that I am often regularly interrupted. There is a certain amount of necessary discussion that accompanies every renovation project, but it goes over the top because it's summer and everyone wants to escape from their office job and see what I'm doing.

Remarkably. we've made lots of progress. Next week will see the installation of new tile in spots, a secretary sliding glass, cabinets and a sink, cove base, and everything else I can get done. I am really, really looking forward to the end of this project. When it's done it will be one very large item off my plate and perhaps I won't feel like I have to wake up at 4AM anymore.

I carried concealed all week. It was great! I mean really, just fantastic. I found the sweet spot on my hip for the holster to just disappear and not even be noticed while driving the Mustang. The Jeep is another story, but since the Mustang is what I drive the most, I consider it a victory. My next gun-related purchase will be the TLR-1 Streamlight. Time to save.

My new method of buying toys--stuff I want but can't prove I necessarily need--is to deposit my allowance and spare change in a large jar and wait until I have enough money to purchase the item. This method, simple as it is, has focused my purchases and has worked rather well in my case. Do I get this or that? No, the JAR must have it! And so it goes from there.

Believe it or not, it's already high time to gather firewood for the winter. I have about a face cord of oak and maple so far, but I am going to need about 6 times that--3 full cords--for the winter, if not more. I plan on heating as much as we can with wood. The furnace sucks propane like no tomorrow, and propane is ass-expensive around here.

So that's it for now. The allowance goes to the money jar and there is much work to be done around the house this weekend. My plan was to rip up the sink and counter area. I'd like to get that done, but it may go on quasi-hold because I am now more interested in the idea of picking up a specific counter I saw at Ikea yesterday that I think would match perfectly the decor and motif of our kitchen, in addition to not breaking the bank.

More later. The pic above is from 24: Season 4 for good measure, and it's non-stop kick ass.

Over and Out.

--Nick-Dog

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Making of a Mall Ninja

It's Sat afternoon, and I am flying solo here at the house with Anastasia. It's been a low key day. Almost a little too low key, but I am getting stuff done to try and keep this place a well-oiled operation. :-)

I have a lot to say. Pardon my rambling. I am prone to get lengthy.

I just received my Phantom Concealment Holster from RCS. It's a little less glitzy than I was expecting but it makes carrying concealed far easier. I can go outerwaist band in an untucked tee-shirt with a full size Glock and I don't print unless I am turning. Impressive. The nice thing about this holster is that I got it set up for a tactical light (TLR-1) attached to the gun, but I can still use the holster if there is no tac light attached, which is a good thing, since I still need to buy one.

I still have problems in the car fitting into the seat without the holster digging into my side. I will work on adjusting it, but I wonder how helpful that will be. The Phantom is definitely a big step up from my Fobus(ted) Roto holster, but the 50 day wait was long and painful. I might go with Comp-tac next time around or a CrossBreed hybrid. All these guys make a fine holster and have a good reputation. I just don't want to wait forever and a half for the product. I suppose that sometimes that's the price of excellence

I will let you know how the Phantom ends up working out with pics. All in all, it's a really sweet holster.

I've decided to stick with 9mm. I was going to purchase another G17 to have on hand for SHTF, but since Glock came out with the RTF frames (rough textured finish), I am reconsidering this move. It's not like I have the money anyhow, but there's always financing via Budsgunshop. That would mean my allowance goes to pay for a gun each month but it might be worth it for the CZ SP-o1 Phantom I mentioned a while back. I love most CZs I've handled and the Phantom makes me drool. I probably shouldn't think about this, but I am. It'd be a hard fight every morning to decide what to carry, but at least I'd be well set-up for a mall ninja.

All this means I would hold off indefinitely on the .357 Sig caliber and just hang with 9mm. Frankly, after checking out the larger calibers in the store, going with a lighter model makes a lot of sense to me, especially given the ammo shortage from hell. I was able to pick up a box of plinking ammo at Walmart last week, but still. Unless your shooting .22, .270 or 7mm, you're just outta luck.

Ok, switching gears here...

Without really thinking about it, I have been sporadically training in earnest the karate I learned years ago. Okinawan Goju Ryu to be exact. Watching some videos on youtube of Morio Higoanna helped with this inspiration. Pretty damn inpressive at 69 years old.

I have met him in person several times and received my shodan under him years ago. He was amazing then, but now he is purely phenomonal. He is so humble. If you met him person, you would never know he was a martial artist, let alone a 10th Dan. When I shook his hand, it was light as a feather. I'll never forget that for as long as I live.

I think now that I am 30 I appreciate more than ever the value of my hard training in the karate dojo. The art, as preserved via the IOGKF, is still practiced today more or less the same way it was practiced 100 years ago, except that the teaching is more open (as in available) than ever. This means that all the traditional ways of doing things, the odd, traditional training tools, are still used. It's a lot of fun and a cultural treasure.

Things at the house are going well. I am making progress slowly but surely. It's hard to carry on daily life and renovate at the same time. Speaking of which, duty calls. It's time also past time to start stacking firewood. I cut some up this morning, but then the rain came, putting the kabosh to my early morning productivity.

That's it for now. Drink tea and kick ass.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Season 3: Hit and Miss

Just a few short words about Season 3. It was good. Not as good as I was hoping, not as good as the excellence that was Season 2, but it was good.

The first part of the season, IMO, was shaky in terms of the storyline. It was a bit too imaginative, remaining entertaining because watching Bauer blow stuff up is always fun. Much of the season's first half requires a heavy suspension of disbelief so you can play along. Part of me wonders if that's what the writers want, you know, to let you know that hey, this is Hollywood after all. You're not supposed to take 24 that seriously.

You're not?!

The second half was vastly superior to the first half, much like a good book you can't put down. The story goes some places that were a bit of a distraction from all the action, but the juice factor stays high throughout, just like the entirety of Season 2.

In case you're wondering, that's Jack suiting up with a Remington 870 at the beginning of the Season. A nice gun for handling scum.

Peace Out yo's,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Neighborhood Happenings

Yesterday, I was changing the oil at about 10:30 AM when I heard what sounded like a large piece of lumber being slammed down on some other lumber. I also thought it could have been a gun, but since gun shots are fairly common around here, I didn't think it was too big a deal.

Then I heard it again. And as it turns out, it was a bit of a "big deal."

Later that day, I found out from my excited neighbor next door that he found a bobcat trying to get into their chicken coup. He keeps a .22 above the door (and advises me to do the same) for neighborhood varmints and the like. He thought it was just a local cat, and was just going to scare it away, until it jumped off the roof of his chicken coup. That's when he realized, "Oh, damn. That's a bobcat."

The irony is at about that time, lots of people were outside, moreso today, tending their yard, folding laundry, etc. Clare and Anastasia were in the back. The neighbor's wife was out smoking a cigarette, watching what she thought was a cat lick up water from a puddle near one of their structures. In a word, it wasn't exactly prime time for a predator to be out and about, or something most people would anticipate, especially so close to human activity.

Anyway, he capped it once, and then again while I worked on my Jeep. I didn't see it but it's at the taxidermist. For me, it's another reason to carry regularly, even in the yard, and to have a .22 above the back door. That was one varmint too close for comfort.

We had a couple of houses in the vicinity get purchased. We are still wondering if the occupants will ever move in. At the farmhouse down the road, I saw the new owners--a man, wife, and little girl--hanging around the house. Maryland tags were on the car.

That first night, apparently, they were outside when their redneck good ol' boy neighbor spotted a racoon in a tree. A raucus ensued when the redneck--nothing pejorative intended here--brought out a long gun and shot him out of the tree. Those Maryland people fled like hell back into their house.

My thoughts: welcome to the neighborhood.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ikea Canopy Bed

If you are local to the D.C. Metro area and are looking for a Queen size canopy bed in dark brown, let me know. I have pics here.

I am asking $175 and have this item posted up on Craigslist.org. We'd keep it, except that our space is too small to accommodate it.

Please let me get this thing off my porch! Thanks!

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Friday, May 29, 2009

Spyderco



Ah, Spyderco.

I finally have an EDC (every day carry) knife that I am proud of: the Spyderco Rescue Jr. in 78mm. It arrived yesterday in the mail from Oregon Knife Shop in less than a week. Thanks dudes!

I proudly strapped it to my belt this morning, whipping it out later in the day to cut some thick zip ties and 1/4 in. cardboard. It went through this crud like hot butter. It was as if the knife said, "C'mon. Did you really think I couldn't cut that?" Later I took it to some hard plastic, and the knife handled it flawlessly.

Frankly, this is the best damn knife I have ever owned.
The contours of the blade fit my hand like it was personally made for me. Remarkable. There is a tangible quality to the steel, which makes you instantly realize, "Oooo. This is a different kind of knife." The edge is wicked, and Spyderco's trademark "O" hole in the blade makes it super easy to flip this bad boy open. I was a little skeptical about that at first, but not any more. No sir. In a word, this thing is sweet.

Before purchasing, I was looking for a relatively low-cost quality folding knife for some time. I didn't want to pay more than 100 dollars for a blade that's going to see a lot of action. But I also didn't want to spend too little money and get a piece of junk. My homies on GlockTalk recommend Spyderco for both of these reasons, and I noticed the company has quite a devoted following by the number of endorsements.

That said, I decided to go with the Spyderco Rescue Jr. after reading this article over at Modern Combative Systems. Mr. George Matheis, who runs the company, is a real warrior and has some great things to say about self-defense and self-awareness. As of yet, I can't say I've gone wrong in taking his advice.(Be sure to check out his post on the "Bag of Evil."

So yah. I've got a new knife and am really happy with it. It's pretty bad ass. I like orange, so I picked orange. 'Nuff said.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

24, Season 2: Right on Target


I know I've been posting a lot recently, but that's what happens when I have a lot to say and am sitting in front of a keyboard.
We just finished Season 2 of "24," and it totally kicked ass. I mean it was tight and superb. No Terri Bauer (thank heavens), which makes for a way better season.
The whole season was awesome, but I particularly like it when Jack draws his gun on regular citizens to threaten them and emphasize his point. For example, he is rushing the corral dude into the hospital, and the hospital staff starts shouting, "Sir you can't bring him in here like that!!! We are calling the police!!!" Jack draws his pistol points at the lady and screams: "Ma'am I AM THE POLICE NOW OPEN THAT DOOR!"
Awesome.
The second incident is when he and Sherri Palmer hijack an SUV after crashing in the aquaduct. Jack points his gun at the guy, demanding he hand over his keys. Once he does it, he says "Thank you" sincerely. I love it.
I am looking forward to Season 3. I can't wait. I also don't want to wait to save up enough money to purchase an HK MSG90A1, pictured above. How cool would that be?
One of these days. Maybe.
Peace Out,
--Nick-Dog

Monday, May 18, 2009

Bumper Sticker

Today I saw a left over bumper sticker from the election on someone's truck, which sums it all up for me in terms of my politcal feelings then and now: "Elect McCain or were really screwed!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.

This is no exaggeration. Barack Obama is intentionally bankrupting our nation with the largest, most reckless budget in world history. Over the next 10 years we are going to be in the hole trillions of dollars each year and no one will be there to buy our debt. Meanwhile our many enemies--Russia, China, Iran, Venezuela, the drug cartels, etc.--are plotting our downfall.

The writing is on the wall. We are screwed. And there is no way out of this that I can think of unless we elect a new, fiscally responsible Congress that is less interested in hope and change and more concerned about the health and safety for our nation, interested enough to turn back the clock on Barack's reckless spending.

I know there are closet libs out there who tune in every now and then to my blog. If what I am saying offends you--that Obama is intentionally bankrupting our nation--what other conclusion can you draw when he has even said himself that his own deficit spending is unsustainable? I mean, this is jack-assery at its' finest. Either he dumb, or he is a committed, outrageous ideologue. Take your pick. Either way, the long term future of our country doesn't look good.

Which brings me to the second subject of this post. Prepping. What would you do today if you knew that in 5-7 years we would be heading towards a serious depression, a time when our currency is going to be worthless? Right now, this is an important question to ask yourself, because if we are unable to halt the Alinsky era of 'hope and change' we are screwed beyond imagining. It's not just the spending. It's also our enemies. They are real, insane, and want millions of us dead. And Obama is too busy trying to remake our society in his own image to pay any attention to them.

I also want to say that there is a lot of panic going on out there. Guns are selling like wildfire, and ammo is scarce. Have you seen the adds for seeds for "crisis gardens?" It's crazy. People are afraid of what Obama is doing to our nation, what he isn't doing for it, and what our enemies are preparing to do to us.

Where the hell is Jack Bauer when you need him? Oh, I forgot. The administration is undermining it's own intelligence service. Nevermind.

So ask yourself the question. I am not saying give up the political fight and build a bunker. I am saying we need to be ready if the political fight is not decisively won. What happens now in our country will seriously direct its future for the next 50-60 years. Frankly, I don't want to spend that time wishing for the good old days.

Peace Yos. Over and out,

--Nick-Dog

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Marques de Borba at 30

I finally opened it. After about 8 years of me aging it personally, I took the advice of Parker, the famous wine connossuier, and gave it a try. The results were phenomonal, delectable, and exceeding all expectations.

Back in 2001, I dissipated my income on expensive wines, cigars, and other luxuries. I should have purchased firearms too, but that's another story.

Anyway, the best wine I got into at the time was a cabernet from an up and coming vineyard out of Southern Portugal, called, "Marques de Borba." All in all, I purchased about 7-8 bottles, enjoying most of them after hours with friends and a cigar while working at RMA. Yeah, it was a while ago.

The wine was rated in the 90s (out of a possible 100) by Parker of the Wine Spectator. He's famous for his nose and capacity to remember wines by name that he tasted 10 years ago. He recommended that the Borba wine would age to perfection in 8-10 years. My bottle was a 1999, so into the liquor cupboard it went.

I have carried this bottle with me everywhere I've lived and been, wondering always when my mind wandered to it, about how it would taste come de-corking time, dreaming that it would either be excellent beyond belief or that it would suck because the cork had failed, pure and simple. Fortunately, the experience has been the former.

After 10 years, the Marques de Borba has incredible depth and, if chilled, unfathomable vibrance. The wines velvety texture reveals prominent notes of blackberry with noticeable hints of cardamom. The result is a potion that fosters serious, deep contemplation at the merest sip.

I cannot extol the virtues of Borba enough. The right time to imbibe ended up being the occasion of my 30th birthday, by far one of the coolest gifts I've given myself over the years for my birthday.

Now I need to find a wine to age for my 40th b-day. Peace out homies. Don't drink and drive.

--Nick-Dog

Saturday, May 09, 2009

"Some" ads...

I just added a whole bunch of ads to the Update, consisting of all my favorite gear. Everything I've posted is either stuff I own, have owned (and want back), or will own.

I will never recommend or post something that I think is a piece of shit. You have my word.

As you know, I love talking about my favorite stuff. Considering Amazon sells everything short of the guillotine, you can bet that if I find something cool and it gets mentioned on the blog, or I just think to add something, there will be a new link.

Patronize, if you will, by clicking on the link and I, obviously, benefit financially from your interest should you decide to make a purchase.

One excellent feature on Amazon is the myriad of customer reviews. If it's sold on Amazon, chances are it's been reviewed. It's a good place to check on something, even if you are buying in a regular store, before making a purchase.

So, if you are looking for something for your better half or for yourself, you will likely find something cool in the ads. If nothing else, it'll get the wheels turning.

Peace out, yo's. I hope you enjoy the new sche..., I mean, "feature."

--Nick-Dog

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

G17 on duty, from one of my favorite scenes in Season 1


Season 1

Season One of "24" is in the can. Not as good as I was expecting, and definitely not as tight. After watching "Heroes," I was hoping for something that would deliver in the same vein. However, the are two very seperate shows with highly different stories to tell.

Overall, Season 1 gets a B from me. Jack Bauer is awesome, hands down. Palmer became better and better as the show went on. Terri drove me nuts the whole time--she looks like she should be out driving a Suburu with an Obama sticker. Milo was cool, but I don't think he'll be back.

The show's weaknesses did not come from poor acting, but poor writing. Jack would have never married Terri in real life. She was/is a total basketcase, something that George states in the final episode. The characters do stupid things that seemed out of line with their presented personality. Most notably, Terri walking CTU at the end in search of you know who. No way. There are other moments like this in the story, and they strike me as gratuitous fancies of the writers, not objectively probable or likely scenarios.

That brings me to my second main criticism of the show. While everything on TV is intended to be emotionally manipulative to the viewer, the story bends over backwards to accomplish this to the detraction of the narrative. The whole twist of the second mole we find out in the end feels so gratuitous and lame, inconsistant with the rest of the story. Broken relationship on top of broken relationship the whole time, with twists on trust, meant to keep the viewer in suspense. One has the impression that the script writers are unformed hedonists, eating potato chips and reading filth, while laughing at you as they go along, writing, in hopes that they bring you back for another hour. There is little trust in the power of the overall narrative, or the sense of redemption that makes a story powerful.

No, Season One should have stayed on a stricter course and just told the story, instead of trying to destroy each character personally as much as possible throughout. Life only has so many nail-biters per day.

All that aside, I tolerated these defects to watch Jack unleash some lead. I'll continue eventually with the story, I think, but I hope that it's a much more mature in the script the next go around.
Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Filthy Materialist

There are only 3 good things about Northern Virginia--Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and the NRA.
The rest, barring a few aikido schools, I could do without.

Clare and I visited the first two today, and purchased enough of our staple items from those stores for a couple of months and then some.

I am more of a Trader Joe's fan than a Whole Foods fan these days, because Trader Joes is a way better deal. $2.50 for bath gel, $3.29 for wine, $1.69 for the best salsa, etc. Their prices are stellar. Whole Foods is THE Food Shrine of Food Shrines bar none, but the wallet can only handle so much. Their produce is the best, and their knock off brand, 365, knocks it out of the park more often than not. Still, the main reason we go to Whole Foods is their Olive Oil, Baguette, and Cheese. And the occasional canoli, of course.

Rod Dreher opines in "Crunchy Cons" that he feels like the only conservative in the whole damn store in places like Whole Foods (just look at all the Obamaphile bumperstickers in the parking lot) but argues that it is a conservative virtue to support organic food and sustainable agriculture. In Genesis--a book the liberal statist so often happily forsakes--one of the first commandments given to man is to cultivate the Earth. No matter how it's packaged, whether a countryfried market or shiny retail food store, man's destiny is that never far away from the ground. We can't forget that.

That being said, I choose my battles and visit said food shrines selectively. I go on occasion. Because afterwards, I always feel the need to detox myself from the taint of Fairfax and the liberal oracles of gluttony.

But a case of Charles Shaw is worth it.

Peace Out,

--Nick-Dog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

112th Post

Well, it's the 112th post here at the Update. It's kind a surprising to have posted that much, but 'tis true.

Clare and I are presently in midst of Season 1 of 24, more than half way through. It is an excellent show--everything I was hoping it would be. Now I can talk shop with other fellow 24 junkies, while I tote around my Jack Bauer bag, courtesy of my loving wife for my birthday from Amazon.com.

I did find, however, an even cooler albeit less civilian-looking messenger bag from Tickbite Tactical. Yes, you read that right, Tickbite Tactical, and they have an awesome bag. Check out their "Heavy Duty Messenger Bag" to see what I mean.

This past weekend Clare and I mosied on up the trail alongside Crabtree Falls here in Virginia. It's a two-mile hike with recurring switchbacks to bring you farther up the mountain. The hike was easier than handling the 30 lb. fuss on my back, who clamored for the jeep and everything else the whole way up. Joking aside, given my present lack of being in excellent physical shape--I made it to the upper falls without issue.

Which brings me to the theme of my post. Slow and steady wins the race, at least where I am often concerned. I thought I was dogging it, truly, but I made the decision from the outset not to rush but to take my time. To my surprise we made it up faster than expected while soaking in the overlooks. Crabtree falls is one of the best falls in Virginia, possibly the best depending on what you're looking for. White Oak Canyon's lower falls for me, however, take the cake.

BTW, in case you are wondering, the new pic on the blog is of Elkala Falls in WV.

So we've been really good about making the most of this Spring and getting in some hikes.

I am considering joining a local gym that is on my way out of town in the mornings. I figured if I could get in there 3-4 a week before work--I am a morning person--I could get a lot more buff, lose the gut, and have and even better excuse to shave the head. The long and short of it is they have a pool and I love to swim.

So now that I am not training in the dojo like the fiend I once was, it's all up to me to continue my aikido practice. Thus far, this has consisted of stretching, jo and ken suburi at home and a once a week session with the ninja on the other side of town. However, the arena of physical conditioning is lacking, and the 2.5 hours in the car each way don't help.

So that is the scoop. That and I want another Glock, but what else is new? In case you are wondering, it will be the Glock 31, chambered in 357 Sig. Virtually all the joy of the 357 Magnum chambered in a 15 rd. semi-auto pistol from Gaston Glock. That sounds really damn good to me.

Peace out yos. I hope all is well.

Over and Out,

--Nick-Dog

Friday, April 17, 2009

The BOL & More


Wow. It' hard to believe it's been almost a year since we moved in, but in a week it shall be so.
I am so grateful to be living out here. It was a struggle to find a home, particularly one we could afford, but it I am always amazed how this place has worked out. Above is a pic taken from this evening after the sun had set of the mountains. Combine that with a delectable breeze and a chorus of tree frogs and that makes for a most serene setting.
Things here at the BOL have come along splendidly over the past year. The grass is mowed. New landscaping is in. Trash has been cleared out. We have 2/3 of a really cool bathroom and so on. Time has flown. It is just a joy to be here and have this opportunity to live in Eden after the fall. That is certainly Virginia to me. Eden after the fall.
In like news earlier this week I made it back out to the Spring. That is the Jeep, the Glock, and I. The water is remarkable and I felt in tune with the earth and its gifts obtaining it myself out of the mountain. If only the quasi-hoopty handn't shown up and started a line of cars, it would have been a complete back to nature experience. Being up in the hills, alone, I was happy to be open carrying the Glock, especially when a caprice with tinted windows rolled in. Not what I was expecting. I wasn't rushed or messed with. Gee, I wonder why?
I obtained my CHP on Weds. of Holy Week! This means I can lawfully carry a pistol concealed in the state of VA. It's great to have the option now to conceal, my preferred method of carry. I alternate from open to concealed to open, depending where I am. Up in the hills, gathering water for the homestead, I'll carry openly, thank you very much. I prefer concealed carry in highly trafficked areas, however.
I have decided to answer any question about why I carry using the PC terminology of the current administration: Let' just say it's my "Outside the Waistband Contingency Plan," if you know what I mean.
That being said, I purchased a new holster for concealed and open carry. It's the Phantom holster for Glock and Tactical Light by Raven Concealment Systems. While I don't have a tactical light for the gun yet, that's ok. I have 40 days to get one, as the company is that backed up in producing their holsters, which are made to order. I am looking forward to the upgrade.
Clare and I are preparing to embark on a "24" watching Bonanza after seeing the first several episodes of the 1st season. Ironically, I was reinspired to check out "24' by purchasing a recreation of the Jack Bauer messenger bag from amazon.com after reading a review about rethinking the Bug-Out Bag. Instead of using a "break in case of emergency" type bag, have a bag with gear that you use or need every day. Clearly, you won't need everything you pack in the bag all the time, but it's better to try and carry gear you will actually use regularly or quasi-regularly. This isn't to bash the BOB. I still have mine. It will just be set up differently.
Anyway, a new bag is on the way as I organize my life to make it "tacticool."
Ciao people. Have a great weekend!
Over and Out,
--Nick-Dog