Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Needs Re-Assessment

So a lot has been happening in my world this past month or so.

First off, we refinanced our house. Somehow this all worked out. My closing costs were reduced, payments diffured, and mortgage lowered. Meanwhile, space was created to handle and take care of other needs.

I've also discovered Dave Canterbury's YouTube videos on Bushcraft. They are enjoyable and informative. Dave is a no-nonsense guy who has lots to teach regarding passing on "the tribal knowledge." All I am going to say, is that I've drunk from the same font of koolaid he has and seek to imitate the wisdom.

Here's the thing. We live in a cushy-ass society that is about to get--and is getting--its ass handed to it in a 1000 different ways. I don't see a drawback in brushing up and improving on my primitive survival skills. Learning how to sew passably, trapping, butchering, and 1000 different ways to start fires are my immediate short term goals for skills I need to add my repetoir.

And it's not that I am waiting for society to break down, which it is already doing, I just feel like living primitively is more real. It's how people have lived for 1000s of years. Not that I dislike my modern plumbing, refrigeration, electrical, and wireless amenities. No. It's not that. It just that providing for yourself, "going back to nature" if you will, is actually very humanizing. While the world continues to push towards "progress," regress sounds even more appealing.

In a recent conversation with my lovely wife, I told her "I almost would not know what to do with 2 million dollars sometimes." (Actually that's not really true, I do know what I'd do with the money--go buy a 4-Door Cummins Diesel, go out to a fabulous dinner, pay off my house and other bills, thank God, bounce off the walls, and then go on a cross country vacation in my new rig w/ camper with my family and visit the Schaps.)

All that said, at the end of the day, a perfect day for me is spent in front of the woodstove/fireplace with family, close friends, and possibly a book. Millions or not. That is why I exist beyond promoting the kingdom of God and such. I don't need more than that and will continue to build my life around this kernel philosophy.

Unless I win 2 million dollars.

Over & Out,


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Quick Post

Not much to say at the moment, except that the month of November agrees with me.

Perhaps it's growing up in Chicago, which is gray and chilly 4 months out of the year, but come
November 1, I'm switched on in a different way. Holidays, nostalgia, wood stove, and the rugged outdoors all combine for a perennial seasonal feel.

I dig it.

Over and Out,


Sunday, November 04, 2012

Nick's Redneck Paradiso

Well, enlightenment has my come way: Making chairs is going to be my woodworking vocation from here forward. Most likely, for a good long time. Yes, I will do other oddities, but chairs will be the focus. I'll still be working two gigs for now, but on the side of woodworking, I've sort of landed, pretty happily, in the role of a chair-maker.

No one in our shop digs chairs the way I have come to dig them, or so I believe. Perhaps that's because the project I put together before the first most recent set of chairs was a 400-lb. kitchen island of doom. It was beautiful but monstrous, and a ginormous craftsman style bed before that. You
cannot manipulate large projects the way you can smaller ones. You move around them, they do not move around you, and that aspect can be quite time-consuming, tiring, and even irritating.

Enter the set of bar-height chairs I had to build for that island and it was a deep breath of fresh air. Small manipulable parts give way to massive ones. Assembling a chair still takes skill, but your work table is not overwhelmed with a massive project. You can focus on finesse and accuracy as opposed to fastening together a larger, complicated endeavor.

Don't get me wrong, chairs are still complicated enough that they pose their own challenges and variances, depending on style, but because chairs are regularly ordered, efficiency in production naturally becomes more streamlined and the work becomes more meditative and fun, rather than the common feeling of difficult drudgery often associated with the "oh shit, I have chairs" realization experienced by some, or the uncertainty and dread that come with a freshly-conceived custom project (which always results in mistakes, hang-ups, and/or design-issues).

So yah. What makes this more intriguing on my end is that my small shop in the back yard is capable of producing chairs regularly. At present, I can do some of the work there, but the addition of some other tools is required for start-to-finish production: a 4-inch orbital sander, disc grinder, a better (contractor grade) table saw, band saw, and eventually a Festool Domino joiner not to mention a dust collection system.

My mini-barn also requires some re-arrangement as well. New old windows will make their way to the South facing wall, under which will go the hand-tool bench that is half-complete. Next summer, I an outside canopy/overhang on the front of the building will hopefully appear, which will allow me to work outside in the shade. Other ideas include elevated lumber racks in what was the goat area and lining the interior walls with antique pine for a more woodsman feel.

Expanding out the back of the existing shop remains a long-term possibility, but it may not actually be necessary. As it is, I have enough projects to keep me busy.

Over & Out,


Friday, November 02, 2012

A Scatterbrained Look at MMA

I have been reviewing cage fights in my down time of late, mostly UFC-type stuff.

As I have been re-evaluating my martial path, looking at how other warriors train and fight has become of interest. I remember when UFC first started and was only on pay-per-view. I ended up seeing a lot of those fights, and one of my high school classmates, Stephen Bonner, is now a UFC ring fighter.

Anyway, after 20 years of thought and interest in the martial arts 7 years of hard-core training, here are my observations.

MMA is typically great if you want to go fight in a ring and prove you can kick ass against other people who want to prove the same thing. I am not interested in that. I am more interested in a martial way with practical street value.

The biggest asset of MMA training is first conditioning. You become prepared to go round after round, endure punishment and dish it out. Your body becomes weaponized and tough. Technique follows. And after about 6 months of training, you have someone who can at least handle themselves in a brawl, fight, or possibly a mugging.

I am a boring person in that respect and am rarely in brawls or fights. Mostly because I know where not to walk. This is called awareness and it is an integral part of following a martial path. I am not aware if MMA students are taught to practice martial awareness unless they have learned it elsewhere first, but this is the most valuable asset in my martial tool bag. Street awareness and being able to sense the signs of trouble before it comes. This, more than anything, has saved me from having to do battle or from bad things happening to myself and others.

Techniques and martial ability are next. These are what you use when you have no choice or the best option is to duke it out. MMA is good in this regard because the student, particularly the dedicated one, has a large tool bag of techniques. In and out of the ring, basic American boxing and the kicks of Muay Thai are, in my opinion, some very effective means of destruction. Combined with some basic techniques from wrestling and you have a strong, competent fighter.

I speak as a karate-ka and aikido-ka. I love those arts and will always practice them in some respect, but I can say without a doubt that the addition of American boxing and arts outside my core makes my personal skills so much stronger and gives me another answer to a potential problem or situation.

Finally, I would add Judo as a strong path to strengthening fighting ability. Judo is sweet, but needs strikes to make it viable. If one is fortunate to find training in an aiki-jitsu-ish art, such as daito-ryu, that would be the cat's pajamas in my opinion.

Anyway, these are my scatterbrained thoughts on MMA. It's good training as far as it goes. I think the well-rounded fighter needs to steep themselves to some degree in an MMA environment, and also because that that's the martial arts being promulgated in our present day. That's the type of trained fighter your are likely to face. But at some point, one needs to train for living, and that's where I think going back to the traditional (I like the Japanese) arts, where a formalized martial path is evident, has its strength.

Over and Out,


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Warrior Strategem#134 Create Your Own Rules

Whoever first said it wasn't a fair fight probably lost.

In war, the idea is to overwhelm your opponent to secure victory. This can be done in a variety of ways, such as by strength, stealth, or trickery. There are numerous strategies for dealing with an adversary, but they all have to be employed in real time. Most enemies don't wait for your to destroy them.

This brings me to a subject that deserves reflection for the warrior and his path: rules.

Rules in battle in this day and age are a romantic ideal by which we would all prefer everyone abide so as to decrease risk to the good guy in a particular conflict. Many of us, myself included, were brought up on the notion that the virtuous knight always overcomes the evil villian or evil dragon. We want to buy into the fantasy that because one is good, he wins.

Ultimately, good does win over evil. We know the end of the story, those of us who are Christians, but the truth is many good people have died to advance the eradication of evil. And it is troublesome.

We don't like this, but it is a fact. Sometimes evil people are better skilled or have better advantages that put our hero at risk. The warrior must face and acknowledge this so that any preconceived notions of wins in a conflict don't get in the way of his actual victory.

All that being said, fighting fair does not exist. There is no such thing. "What about sport? MMA or boxing?" you ask. "Those guys are tough." Yes, they are, but they are bound by the rules of an event, at a predetermined time and day. It's as much a psychological as well as physical display of  combat, and it has its place. But the warrior's individual path should determine if that path is for him, but in reality showing up to an event to play by someone's rules reduces your chance of victory.

To increase your chances of victory, play by your own rules. Strike when least expected, where least expected. Take superior opponents by surprise. This is not cowardice, it is common sense. This is how a smart adversary thinks. He keeps an eye on the shadows, for at times he has been the one who lurks there.

Peace Out,


Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Warrior's Reform...

I have studied the arts of personal combat for a very long time. I am fascinated by it, and no matter what I do in life, I am always drawn back to interest in martial arts, the study of war on the small scale, and living the modern samurai way.

There's a plethora of information out there on the martial arts, fighting, and survival. I think it's time I advance my opinions, now that I believe I have earned the right to have one on the subject.

Martial Arts

There is no one martial art that is an answer to all problems and situations. General principles may
carry over from situation to situation, but the my "art is the best" syndrome is the recipe for combat disaster. Your Art is one way, and hopefully a very good one, but there are many schools of battle, all of which have strengths and weaknesses.

Proper Martial Path

My particular belief is that one on this path should find a martial art they like and make that their foundation for studying other arts, if martial arts is something they want to do. At some point, usually after about 3 years maybe, it's good to diversify your portfolio, to go outside of your school and comfort zone and see the world of hand-to-hand from other perspectives.

Here's an example of what I mean. I am a karate-ka from way back. Lot's of punching, kicking, and old-school conditioning. At the higher levels of the art you discover softer techniques give you more weapons in your arsenal. Later study of Aikido, ju-jitsu, Judo, or even Tai Chi, gives you greater insight into what you have already learned, expands your knowledge, and can provide a larger path for training and living.


I have met Sandans (3rd Degree blackbelts) who inspire fear and others whose ass I can kick, with or without a black belt. Rank is the most dangerous obstacle to being combat ready. Let me repeat that: RANK IS THE MOST DANGEROUS OBSTACLE TO BEING COMBAT READY.

Rank is ultimately meaningless, except as a measure of how long you've been in a school and how much knowledge you are supposed to have in you. It is not a measure of how good a fighter you are. In the old days, before belt rank in karate was given, there used to be a sign-in board that had your name. The senior students who had been there the longest were at the top of the list.


This whole blog is about proper mindset, so I will try to keep it short. My thoughts about battle might be summed up thus, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog."

The sheer will to win is the most important aspect of training and battle. If this is forgotten in the name of other goals, however noble, you will do yourself a serious disservice. You may still have some effective techniques, but you personally will not be as effective.

The Will to Win cannot be practiced on the couch (unless you are laid up from an injury). The will to win comes from actual physical practice and conditioning with this mindset in your head. If you lose this mindset, you may still be very good, but you will become less of a warrior. Warriors win. That's why you train. To win. Being a good person usually comes as a result of training for lots of reasons, but the whole reason you get out of bed and on the mat is to kick ass, to be a winner in your personal battles, to overcome and win in your interpersonal-battles

Everything else comes second, on an instictual level that is. God and the commandments are first of course, but when it comes to battle, you train to win, and win at nearly any cost. I know there are purists and masters who disagree with my approach, but you learn to fight to protect yourself. You continue to train for other reasons.

How to Train

Conditioning is the most important aspect of training once proper mindset is established. Give me a beginniner who is physically fit who knows a few basics, and he will be much more dangerous than a senior student who can't do a 5 minute jog. The reason is that he has already conquered his mind and his body. He is actually ready for the work of mopping up enemies.

Senior students who emphasize conditioning as a pre-requisite to training--this is a WIN and the way of the warrior. It also hopefully keeps the warrior humble, hopefully, no matter how far he goes in his art, for he knows the body's limits and vulnerabilities.

Especially as you get older, you must condition yourself for battle, to do kick ass techniques in real life, and of course, over and over again on the mat. Without conditioning as the foundation of your training, one cannot expective to be optimally effective in combat. Conditioning is the way of the warrior. Check out the workout over to see what I mean. That is warrior conditioned.


There is much more I can say about the martial way. In my own path, I have found that a return to my foundational mindset and training has given me much-needed perspective. I know how tough I am and hide my weaknesses as much as I can on a daily basis, while improving upon them on my own time behind closed doors, as much as I can.

My weakness is conditioning. My strength is mindset. Somewhere in between are techniques. In every warrior, regardless of path, they all must become one.

Over and Out,


Saturday, October 13, 2012

Olde South

Interior of Warren Rifles Confederate
Today, Clare, myself and the crew visited Front Royal's annual Festival of Leaves. After the parade, which was neat but somewhat lackluster, we walked mainstreet strewn with tents and hawkers of all types. Everything from custom wooden bowls to covers for your gutters was on display. Additionally, the local history museum's were open, including the Warren Rifle's Confederate History museum on Chester Street.

Coming from the North, when I first entered Virginia, I had notions of the Civil War that I no longer entertain. I believed that the war was truly about ending slavery and scoffed at the idea that its present day partisans believe it was about states' rights. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed while in college when I first heard the term, "War of Northern Aggression."

Maybe it's something in my Virginia well, but now it makes sense. Maturity, experience, (aka, seeing policitians for what they are) and deeper analysis, as well as living in the remnants of the olde South, not to mention my grading gig, have caused me to look deeper at the root causes of the American Civil War. My current belief is that the cause to end slavery was used as a political tool halfway through the war to garner support for the Union armies in an unpopular conflict against people fighting for what they considered was their homeland.

Whatever side you come down on, the sons of the Confederacy now command my respect in ways they hadn't previously. Their military leadership was generally impeccable under Lee, who throughout his command achieved and maintained the highest respect of his fighting men, leading them to victory, facing difficult odds, with half the Union resources. Yet to the bitter end, they clung to his command until he formally discharged them from their duties at Appomattox Courthouse on April 12, 1865.

Which brings me to the inspiration of this reflection. In Front Royal's musuem is an Confederate Battle flag, shown above, inscribed with the names of the fighting men who died throughout the campaigns that was flown during the formal surrender at Appomattox. Worn and tattered, you could feel the steely gaze of men in gray who looked to and saluted that flag and sense the intense moment of their surrender. Guant, determined, and tall in defeat, they stared. I believe their sentiments were captured by their great commander, General Lee, in his now famous General Order No. 9:

After four years of arduous service marked by unsurpassed courage and fortitude, the Army of Northern Virginia has been compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources. 
I need not tell the brave survivors of so many hard fought battles, who have remained steadfast to the last, that I have consented to this result from no distrust of them; but feeling that valor and devotion could accomplish nothing that could compensate for the loss that must have attended the continuance of the contest, I determined to avoid the useless sacrifice of those whose past services have endeared them to their countrymen.

By the terms of the agreement, officers and men can return to their homes and remain until exchanged. You will take with you the satisfaction that proceeds from a consciousness of duty faithfully performed; and I earnestly pray that a Merciful God will extend to you His blessings and protection.
With an unceasing admiration of your constancy and devotion to your Country, and a grateful remembrance of your kind and generous consideration for myself, I bid you all an affectionate farewell

If you live in or visit the deep south, the boldness of character and Southern pride, and in some instances, defiance, remain. I like that, though not all celebrate or salute it in these regions. People have their objections. I did too, but now find they ring increasingly hollow in the face of the rising tyranny of the welfare state that lies before us.

Over and Out,


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The End of this Month

Supposedly at the end of the month, I will receive an offer to grade full-time at the office.

I have mixed feelings about this. First, it's the right thing. Steady, stable, benefits. Some
financial breathing room, hopefully, and all that good stuff. I enjoy the work, but it is all mental.
For the past 5 years I have been on the move, using my brain to solve physical and political
problems. It's difficult some days to sit still.

For the past 3 months I've juggled two jobs and catching up with all the stuff at home, while
trying to improve the place. It's been a God-send in some ways, as it's allowed me to catch up on things I've felt undone or needing to be accomplished, such as selling the Jeep or taking care of
home projects.

Nonetheless, it has been hectic, as in hectic-crazy. Staying up until 2 in the morning working on many nights bodes for a hard early day. You get the drift. I've been juggling two gigs. Customp rojects at the woodshop, while awesome, are unpredictable in terms of time. Heading on over to
a full-time gig at Seton will likely lead to a stable lifestyle. I can still woodwork, but I can do that
as necessary and not feel like I am working two full-time jobs.

Or so I hope. Ultimately, my future is in God's hands. I will miss woodworking quasi-full-time if things play out the way I think they will, but at least I can call in sick and not worry about paying the
bills as much.

We'll see what happens. I am knee deep in making chairs right now and they are awesome and
fun to make. I have stated today my desire to become the chair guy and make chairs like a bonified BAMF. Most of the work would be ideally suited for my shop in the making at home, but alas,
all that remains to be seen.

God Bless,


Friday, August 31, 2012

Thoughts on Craftsmanship

Hey there.

Just a few thoughts that have been spinning in my head that I thought I should write down for the sake of writing.

Woodworking is a creative outlet that I get paid for. Sometimes its a good deal and sometimes not the best deal, but overall its fairly rewarding.

To stay inspired, I hit the woodworking blogs to see what other people are up to and look at the pictures.

All cool stuff, but like many things, a lot of woodworkers spend more time on the internet reading about woodworking than actually getting out and doing it.

Granted, tools are expensive and not always available and wood, even the expensive stuff, can be hard to come by. So the net can be a fix for those short on cash or supplies or just looking for inspiration, but at the end of the day, you just have to get out and do it and see where the rubber meets the road.

Just do it.

Most of what we do at the woodshop is off plan, meaning that with the exception of a few general parameters/measurements, we just build it. It's not the best way to do work, but somehow this works.
I've done simple drawings and stuff for customers and worked from those, but when I look at professional drawings, even for some stuff as simple as a workbench, I get confused. But then I look at the picture and I am all better.

Anyway, some people do a couple projects a year and end up with a disappointment at the end of their journey when the look at their work, even with tight "fine" joinery and nice materials. My joinery is pretty basic, a level or two above monkey work and yet a piece can come out looking amazing.

What I am trying to distill here is that its not about the joinery for me, which it is for some who call themselves fine woodworkers. It is about the wood.

I got into woodworking because I love the wood. I love to be surrounded by it. I love to burn it. And I love to work it. What I attempt to do every time I got into the shop has nothing to do with joinery. It has everything to do with celebrating the wood and producing something that looks awesome and will be awesome for someone. The fact that most of it is glued and screwed with the domino joinery from Festool for the most part, well, it is what it is. The wood is still beautiful, the piece is still functional, and it's all built like a brick shithouse.

Though it smells much better.

This concept was confirmed for me earlier this week when Clare and I visited a new cabin-like general store near Crabtree Falls in Virginia. In exploring their cabin, I looked at all the joinery, the wood, the finish, everything. It was beautiful rough-sawn pine and poplar from the mill nailed to the walls and ceiling. Simple. Gorgeous.  Righteous.

It was nothing fancy or complicated in terms of high art, but the whole place was pretty damn beautiful.

So I will close with this thought. Being a purist doesn't always add up. Sometimes you go with what works, what's comfortable, and what, at the end of the day, kicks ass.

God Bless.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dog Walk Gone Awry...

Tonite I had an experience I do not want to repeat.

My new found four-legged friend and I took our nightly walk down to the fields near the small car dealership at the beginning of our road. There is a very large mowed field next to do the dealer that is perfect for staring at the sky or horizon. This evening the moon was out and shining bright.

We had just returned from our trip, so in justice to the dog who stayed behind, I took him on his normal jaunt after our initial return.

After staring at the moon a bit, it was time to turn around and make our way back. Ollie (that is our dog's name) however, gave me a look that said he wanted to go farther and so started trying to play with me. Harder than I'd like. When I met his resistance and tried to get him to stop in ways that had work before. He chose not to listen and baited me to challenge him more.

At this point, I felt my authority as master being challenged. There was a change in the air with him, one that I had not seen before. I was damn near about ready to release his leash and put a bullet in him. Thank God I had my gun. I basically always carry now. He is a huge dog and the little voice inside my head was starting to tell me to be afraid.

So before going that route, I tried the one thing I know that works on both animals and humans to regain control of the situation. I ignored him. This put him off me and he was instantly at attention and began walking like a normal dog again.

But the air had changed. He had openly challenged my authority, using violence as a possible way to get attention and possibly the upper hand. I know he is a dog. I have had dogs all my life, but none ever made me question my safety with them. This one did and now he will have a short trip to the pound.

The truth is, I had a dream several days ago in which there were 2 Ollies. And in one, I pulled my gun and put a bullet in him. This made me sad, and when I woke up, I shook it off, believing it be nothing.

But it wasn't. I was being warned that something was afoot. Sometimes God sends or allows a signal to be sent to us to prepare us for the road ahead. Thankfully, this isn't the first time I've been given a "heads up" on an issue. I just didn't want to see a problem here. But now I certainly do.

Among others, that lessons that stand out to me from this experience are carry a gun for your own personal protection and have multiple options, if possible, for dealing with any conflict. It makes me sick that I nearly had to shoot my own damn dog. And make no mistake, I would have unloaded the clip in him. It's just not something I would have ever wanted to do.

God Bless,


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Home Projects

Well, as you know, I've figured out the master plan, as it were, to getting this place ship shape.

My commitment is to spend an hour or two each day tacking the things that need to be tackled around here. If you were to walk my house you would see that I am living in a half-finished construction zone, or something like that.

The first order of business has been to wrap up a bench project for the house. Kieran is obsessed with moving chairs and leaning on them, so we have been trying to get a bench put in the house for a while now.

The good news is that the bench is basically done. The first coat of finish is on as well as some oil. Today, I will resand as necessary and do what is hopefully the final oil finish. And then it comes home.

I had taken pictures of my weapons, but somehow they have escaped being uploaded. Those are still to come.

Finally, I've ordered the CZ P-07 Duty, as some (ok one or two) of you know. The idea is that this will be my new carry weapon, as it is a slim profile, light and concealable weapon with a double-stacked 9mm.

I picked it up at Gander Mountain some time ago and it just clicked with me. Most weapons usually do. Imagine that. Anyway, I found a good deal on and am just waiting the FFL. I look forward to taking it out to the backyard. Yes, for moderate practice, I've just sorta said screw the neighbors' misgivings. I will just go out back and shoot.

While I have strayed from discussing the subject of economic apocalypse for some time, I am of the firm belief that essentials should be in order by the election. I am hoping for an unexciting fall where the President becomes a one-termer and that's it, but I am not counting on it. When things go to shit economy wise, it's usually in the fall for some reason. Add to that the election and you have a major ingredient for mayhem.

So yah, shit here is good. Can't complain. Gotta get outside and cut up my firewood, clear the garden for fall crops, and build a dog run. Plenty to do.

Over and Out,


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Figured it Out...Finally...

Four more than 4 years, I have scratched my head every which way to figure out just what to do with our house.

During that time, there have been many moments of despair interlaced with my perpetual optimism and general belief that one day "I would figure this out."

I have been flummoxed since the first round of dust settled on how to go about making this place a home that fits our lifestyle. It's been really very difficult, and we began turning the corner on that score more than a year ago when the floors were refinished and a new barnwood table entered our kitchen.

Still, the wanderlust and belief that the grass is always or at least possibly greener on the other side nagged at me. It seemed a voice would whisper sweet nothings into my ear while driving the countryside, perpetually asking, "Would this be the perfect spot to move?"

Finally, I got tired of this and my response has simply become "just shut the hell up, ok?"

Even though I've been met with silence now, the feeling still persisted that life is crazy and something needed to be done about it. I went on a drive to a place I had never been, checking on cheap land, prayed to St. Joseph, drank a Coke and thought about my situation. Something's got to give. My family is going nuts in that small house.

And then, sitting in my kitchen, leaning up against my table, it all came to me in a moment.
The wall. It's gotta go.

My house is actually a series of additions cobbled together, ending up, basically, in the shape of a U. This is bad feng shui. All the rooms feel too small and disconnected, and my hallway, which is long and dark, is essentially dead space. The heat from the wood stove in the winters has a hard time flowing to the rest of the home because of it. The only solution, really, is to remove the wall.
So here's the plan in a nutshell:
Take out the (load bearing wall). Add in a new oak beam (8x8) mounted and braced
on two 8x8 posts. Add built-in hutches on the opposite hallway wall to handle storage,
build a new base cabinet for a recently acquired farm sink and dish washer. Replace
the existing work table (peninsula) with a larger and more functional island.

I am really eager to make this happen. I have a few other items to finish first, but once they are done,
it's gangbusters.

When I am finished, you are all invited over for tea.
Peace-Out homies.


Sunday, July 22, 2012

On Evil

As news reports broke on Friday about the mass shooting in Aurora, I had several reactions all at once:

At first, why? Why did this dipwad have to go ruining the lives of myriads of people he never met? What motivated him to do this? We will find out more details in the coming days and weeks, and I don't believe it was because he was insane. It was because he was evil.
The second, a general "day-um" and then a prayer for the families who recieved some inevitably bad news that their loved one had died or had been shot in the rampage.
The third, the realization that no one fired back, and in some ways, that's what bothers me the most.

People, what the f has happened to us? We are being conditioned to be sheep, to accept violence done upon us with no answerable recourse other than to call 9-1-1.

F that. I took the time to read through some of the victim's profiles. Some of them died as heroes, taking bullets for loved ones or those they were with and felt a responsibility for. I am sure each of the these dead, would have preferred the option to return fire and answer violence with more violence. When I think of this incident and others, I wish some law abinding citizens were armed and could have returned fire, dropped the mutha-Fbomb, saved lives, and have been done with it. That would be a better story.
Instead, I get to see pictures of a Glock, Carbine, and Remington 870 broadcast all over the news media as if that was the problem, as if I should be horrified. No, f-bomb media, these are things law-abiding citizens who care about their lives, their loved ones, and their country should have in their house or on their person, not be worried about. No, the problem was that this neuro-science Ph D. wannabe knucklehead dipwad maniac did not self-diagnose and go straight to the nearest asylum. Instead of checking himself in, he chose to check out and take down as many people with him as possible.

I am disgusted at how this story is being played and the unspoken (and sometimes spoken, I'm sure) theme is that we as citizens are to accept violence done upon us by evil people with no recourse for our own protection. That people with guns did this. It was the guns man, the guns. It's part of the gradual sheep-i-fication of the society the Left desires.

This was supposed to be a gun-free zone. That did not work out so well, did it?

I also want to point out something else that is ironic in this situation. All these people showed up to see a movie that depicts a hero delivering justice to any and all douchebags on the big screen. Ostensibly, because everyone loves Batman, and with good reason. We empathize with the hero. And we should, but when it comes to real life, to protecting ourselves and our loved ones, so many among us take for granted our personal safety, it's actually kind of appalling.

Oh sure, we can play games and go see movies and pretend happily that we are hero ass-kickers, but when it comes to actually living out one's role as protector of the family, of one's environment, and broadly of the civil society, that, that my friends, is largely not taken seriously. It is ridiculed and then discarded and dismissed as fear-mongering until the next incident comes along.

How many more of these active shooter wannabe douchebags are out there? If the answer is one, it's too many, and I know it's more than that. How do I know that? Simple. I know evil.

Evil does not rest. It will not leave all that is well and good alone. Evil seeks to disrupt, to destroy. You could be a happy, peacefull hippie moefoe, but evil will still squash you and laugh at your demise if it has the chance.

As I study 20th century and prior history, it is more and more apparent to me that evil can never leave anything alone. It is always on the march in some form or another. The only thing that can stop it is good men who are willing to pay the price of enduring and delivering violence to stop it, possibly at the cost of their own lives.

I know a lot of people believe in peace and finding the peaceful path and way to deal with those evil and violence. Those are lofty ideals and should be pursued, but at the end of the day, sometimes it just comes down to brass tacks and brutality to overcome unwanted aggression.

Most people don't like to consider that violence can ever happen to them. It's an uncomfortable thought. My only consolation on the matter is that an armed society is ultimately a polite society, and that we can still choose to be armed and protect ourselves. But it is up to us to create that mentality and urge others to do the same.

God Bless,


Sunday, June 24, 2012


Pics to come, very soon.

Clare and I visited the Smokey Mountains last week and it was quite an adventure, and nearly a continuation of our previous visit to the region last year after Labor Day.

At any rate, we stopped at Smokey Mountain Knife Works on a lark, as we had to change Kieran and I needed to use the restroom. So what better place to do that then a large knife store?

The store was all kinds of awesome, with blades of every kind on all three levels. I could have spent half my day playing with stuff there, but in the 30-40 minutes I had, I came out with a short fixed blade from Bear & Sons that happened to be on sale. It was a good purchase to be sure, but the scabbard did not hold up to hard use. Withing 24 hours I had punctured a hole in it, rendering on-person carry unsafe and undesireable. I will likely purchase another sheath for it and see what happens, but to be honest, carrying a fixed blade on one's side is a bit bulky and uncomfortable. The Glock carried inside the waistband
is much better.

The quality of the knife is better than a China or Pakistan blade in the same range (~$30). I scoured the knife cases for an USA Made blade in this range, and the only thing I came up with was Bear and Sons. Other than the sheath, I am happy with the product.

Our drive through the Smokey Mountains and throughout the area was hella impressive. The Smokeys have something of the feel of legend to them. The main, twisty two-lane roads through the park were pretty much packed, but it was also good to see locals chilling out at the swimming holes and creeks in the park.

In the past I have asked myself when I go to a place if I could or should live there. I have tended to be on the hunt for the perfect spot, but on this trip not so much. My new opinion about things is that no matter where you live, there is a trade off. You can be here, but not there. Visiting places is fun, but starting from scratch somewhere else is not. One also loses any time invested in a previous location when they pick up and move somewhere else, even if it's across town, though that surely is not as radical as across country.

Some people have no choice but to move. Despite my frustrations with my house and the hillbilly code with which it was built, I am content where I am at. My neighbors are generally low-key rugged individualist mountain folk, heavily armed, and overall, good folk. Trying to find another community like that and starting from scratch now makes no sense to me. So unless God kicks me out of here, I guess I'll be in the Olde Dominion for a good long time.

Anyway, I've digressed. The topic of place is one that I like to ponder, so there you have it.

The other new purchase is a new-to-me shot-once-by-the-previous-owner Mossberg 500 8-Shot, set up
to kick ass and take names by the boatload. I ran this gun today and, with the recoil-reducing Knoxx stock, I pretty much made my decision this morning that if I have to walk to the end of the world, this is the gun I'm reaching for. Hands down.

Not that I'm leaving anytime soon, of course, but you get the drift. Smooth. Powerful. Boo-yah!

Pics to come for all you weapon loving fiends.

Over & Out,


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Observations on Freedom

Well ok, it's been two weeks since I made the switch from commuting 126 miles each day and being responsible for a massive facility, including a church and school, to working from home or very close to it, grading history and woodworking.  It's time for a report.

One of the first of two things I noticed after I stopped commuting was my spike in energy levels. Even though my drive was not that bad, it was slowly destroying me. My attitude, energy level, optimism, and level of stress changed almost instantaneously. I now have an abundance of energy, don't have to deal with the dipwads on the road, and I can actually slow down on some days and smell the roses--or in my case, the wood chips--around me.

Furthermore, I don't feel like life is passing me by, that I am missing out. I don't feel as if I have to entertain myself on the internet. I don't find myself dreaming about what life would be like living in a cabin in West Va. or Montana or wherever anymore. I find myself making my present situation better and being as real as I can be regarding my present circumstances and taking on tasks that actually need to be done.

The second major thing I noticed was that I have, at long last, regained some measure of patience with those around me. What would set me off on an epic rant, at least in my head, laced with a colorful MF-laden series of epithets, now seems like a very small matter. Because of this, I am a better father and person. I still think people are bullshit when appropriate--while recognizing my own--but it concerns me much less. They can go screw, whoever they are, and I will stay home and grade papers and smile at my AR-15 when I need a pick me up, and then go down to my personal woodshop while imagining it to be larger, grander, and more well-appointed with tools than Vahalla.

Yes, I will do all these things. Repeatedly. And not give a damn about they guy next door or wherever. None of that shit really matters now.

In a word, my shackles have been broken. I have my freedom, my liberty. In our day and age we piss away our liberty and freedom so casually, in part because 99% of the jackasses around us are doing the same thing. What our Founding Fathers fought and pledged their sacred honor for, we freely fritter away.  Yet time is our most valuable commodity. How we use it, or fill it, will determine the core result of our lives on a day to day basis.

For 5 fast years I enjoyed serving the Church, doing my job, and being the Johnny-except-my-name-is-Nick-on-the-spot savior for the entire complex. It became routine to solve everyone's problems.

People often called me for the most bullshit things, however. And so for the past two years I steadily disappeared into the background, moved my office to the mechanical room, and tried not to answer the phone. Nevertheless, I found that my new boss was also finding creative ways for me to run around in circles, re-invent the wheel, and carry his water.

While this was still relatively light duty in some ways, I found myself carrying more stress than I really wanted and began evaluating my future: do I blink again and watch another 5 years of my life go by, commuting 2.5 hours a day, or do I make a radical change for the sake of my family.
I chose the latter course, and now see very clearly that the Lord has set His people free.

I am rambling now, but my point is that the taste of freedom is ultra-sweet. Whatever freedom means to you, it's goodness cannot be underestimated. We give that up if we are not careful when we enter the work force. We give that up when we don't make doing what we love or believe in a real priority. We give that up when we chose to become a slave.

I understand that the world still needs janitors. In fact, I performed those duties as needed for 5 years. To those who wondered, I was a maintenance director, not a MF janitor. I don't have a problem with janitors. Some are geniuses, though most are not. It simply displeased me when the haughty felt sorry for me, you know, because sitting in an office, under a blinding flourescent light, staring at a bluish screen for 8 hours is sublime and uplifting.

Save your sympathy, jerkfaces.

Anyway, I've digressed.

While I may be in what still might be considered the honeymoon period, I do a lot more work and find that having both intellectual and creative physical work in my day is both challenging and satisfying for my personality. I don't mind editing American History tests and commenting on them, even when I am tired.

I simply enjoy kicking ass. So I think that's what I'll continue to do.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Do or Die

Sink or swim. Dominate or be defeated.

The Tuesday after Easter, I gave 3 weeks notice that I would be leaving work to pursue woodworking and grading as my full-time occupations.

I have been chomping at the bit to make the switch for some time. My boss, for the next week or so, is a nice guy, but he is also somewhat maddening to work for. The kinda person who schedules you to meet endlessly with new groups of people, to rehash and come to the conclusions you have already reached time and again. In addition to all my other responsibilities this new one of being accountable for others' recommendations and decisions, and then pretend to be happy about it, was probably the last thing I could endure.

I know I could have kept along to get along, but the door I had been waiting for finally opened. I got a phone call the Weds. before Easter, letting me know that there was an American History grading position open in Front Royal if I wanted it, one in which I could work from home. Are you kidding? The clouds had parted and a light from Heaven beamed upon me. F-yea..., I mean, Yes!

By Easter Monday, I had a solid part-time to possibly full-time gig, alongside my work at the wood shop. When I got the phone call I felt so much peace, I knew it was the right thing, and now I am finished with training for grading and prepping to go balls-to-the-wall on both fronts.  No more commuting for over an hour each way. No more worrying about D.C. blowing up while at work. No more bullshit, for the most part, unless it is self-induced.

I can deal with that.

The main consequences of my decision are peace, freedom, joy, energy, and hope. I have more energy and excitement than I have experienced in a long, long time. The security of a stable 9-5 ain't nothing, but there comes a time when you grow out of a position, where you know you need to make a move or risk becoming a mindless drone, living in a tolerable and comfortable rut.

Ruts and comfort, though, have never been my cup of tea.

For the first time since I exited college, I will be using my degree to obtain a living. I will continue as well to follow the path of woodworking. I can also now see a way forward to building a much-need addition to our house and finish the zillions of half-finished projects I have left for myself.

Raising my cup of tea to all those who read my blog. Pray for me that I may succeed, and I will in turn pray for you that you will never cease to kick ass in your life.

Over and Out,


Saturday, March 17, 2012

My fetish for olde things....

So I purchased today a new-to-me Parks "12 Planer for my home wood shop.

A Parks Planer is a popular old tool for tinkerers and woodworkers to restore. The design is simple and proven, starting sometime in the 1930s and produced under the Parks and Craftsman label until the early 80s. The one I laid my hands on today is probably from the 50s or 60s, looking at the design; that is just a guesttimate, pending investigation.

So what on earth did I buy an olde tool for, when I could go to Lowes and plunk the same amount of cash on a quality new one? Well, my reasons are numerous, but it all amounts basically to this: they just don't make them like they used to. The old iron on vintage tools is usually pretty awesome. The designs are simple and effective. Many were made in the USA and to stand the test of time.

Old tools, machinery, and cars, IMO, carry with them the allure of ages gone by. They are monuments to the past, a testimonial, for better or worse, to the attitudes, feelings, and culture of those that used and created them.

It's not that I needed another project. I have plenty. Enough to keep me busy for as long as I'd like. The fact is, I love restoring things, bringing them back to life and honoring the "older" than me ways. You can't recreate the feelings of old things in new things. You just can't. New things are often disposable. Old things were meant to last, and can often be repaired.

Maybe I'm just hopelessly romantic regarding certain antiques. However, I take comfort in knowing that I'm not the only one who thinks in this way.

The gent I purchased the planer from had a house in 1980s old suburbia with a driveway and garage filled with old machinery for wood and metal working. He basically had a small path from his house to his garage, and the rest of the stuff was covered in tarps. Don't ask me where he got all this stuff. I think it finds him, but he had basically anything and everything one could ever want for a shop.

The seller, an engineer, was a really chill guy. He spoke with a slow southern draw, and I was saddened to hear that he was "between jobs." You could tell that he was an intelligent dude, who could basically do anything he put his mind to. He allowed me to test the planer and run a board of 100-year-old white oak, which the planer smoothed with relish. I was pretty surprised. I expected the planer to balk. I thought, "Damn, wow." We dropped the setting to take a larger bite, but that was too much, and likely would have been for the Grizzly I am accustomed to using as well.

After loading up, we chatted about his tool collection and additional country storehouse of old machinery. I told him I would hit him up in the future and we parted ways.

On the way, I had considered haggling, because I was unsure of what I was getting myself into with this old work horse, but when I saw that this man was good and honest and out of work, I thought better of it and decided to simply pay the fair price he had asked for the machine and head out. In doing so, I left like I had done the right thing, and may eventually give him a call back the next time I have a tool need.

All that said, I look forward to restoring this tool, as needed, and putting it to plenty of good use.

Over and Out,


Sunday, March 11, 2012

B to the W

I've been so busy, life's been a blur. Except today, Sunday 3/11/12. Today, I got it all in, more or less.

I woke up this morning to the sound of the phone ringing. Praying it was not work, I answered and discovered that the fence installer dude could get to me earlier this morning than had previously planned. Score. We went to mass the night before, so my Sunday was now going to be truly open.

We walked the property and talked guns. I am sure my sketchy neighbors saw me gesturing to their playset, which had strayed over my property line. It was removed shortly thereafter. We'll see what happens on getting a fence installed along with 3 gates, 2 four ft. and 1 twelve ft. There's lots of dips and corners to deal with on my property, so there are going to be numerous wooden posts (probably?) cemented and braced in the corners. I am hoping for a solid bid so I can get this done and be done with it, not to mention having a physical and psychological barrier to outsiders considering entering my property. Finally and most importantly, I need to keep my kids safe and away from the road. This is my greatest concern.

Brunch and homemade coffee followed, as I got my act together and began prepping for painting the rest of my kitchen. This project, like so many others, had been lingering for a long time. I have been the king of starting projects and not finishing them around here, though that trend has been changing. Anyway, in addition to cleaning the walls and trim and wet sanding drywall, I cleaned those areas of the kitchen that rarely receive attention.

Clare cooked an amazing brunch --her cooking skills rival that of the gods--and we jetted out to the Thompson Wilderness Wildlife area. Our end of the trail was pretty much deserted and we enjoyed time by a chortling creek and miniture waterfall. It was secluded and serene, and we were able to enjoy time by the water on one of the first really nice Springy days. Score.

We returned home after a scenic drive through Paris, Va. and stop at Martin's and Spelunkers'. At home I cleaned the porch, the yard, and split the remainder of the wood I had cut. Clare cooked Burgers and coleslaw to die for, and the peepers are peeping in chorus.

It's the beginning of Spring in Virginia. I have found that I live for this time. The weather is perfect, refreshingly cool and perfect for a cold beer and work on the house. Before we ate, I went outside and sat under my tree, where I will be installing a permeanant fire pit/sitting ring for summer nights by the fire. I sat to watch the remnant of the sun set over the mountain and see Jupiter and Venus shine in its place.

All I can say is, I hope I have days like this more often. Here's to liberty and getting things done!



Wednesday, February 08, 2012

EDC Considerations

For quite some time, I've been giving more thought to a better EDC (that's 'every day carry') for my personal set up.

At the moment I am toting a Maxpedition M-2 belt pouch that has plenty of room, too much girth, and no effective organization. Generally, always on my person are the following: my cell, a lighter, Spyderco folder, Leatherman, and flashlight. While it's on the belt, finding and actually keeping things in this pouch is a hassle. The zippers and clips are a certfiable pain in the ass too, and so more often than not the pouch remains open throughout the day.

Because of this I've searched high and low to find the PERFECT solution, and after hours of dedicated searching, I think I've found it--a custom skinny sheath called the Skinth.

Created by a fellow prepper, various custom set-ups and ideas for a variety of needs exist for the Skinth. While the name is kinda gay sounding, I really don't give a damn. There are simply no other sleek options out there for what I want, so a Skinth XL will be coming my way sometime in the near future.

My hope is that the pouch will disappear along the waistline, generally appearing much like a quasi-yuppie smart phone holder. And speaking of phones, I am preparing myself for the possibility that I might actually have to get a conventional holder as well, which will suit me just fine.

Also on deck for purchase is a new Protac in AA by Streamlight. My Microstream went missing some time ago, though I expect it turn up eventually. How was it lost? Well, you see when you sit down at a certain angle with the Maxpedition M-2 pouch open... You see where this is going. My bad.

Finally, I am considering the purchase of the CQB tool/knife from Spartan blades. Thank you Mercop for another awesome idea/product recommendation. In his video, he demonstrates the awesome utility in having a go-to knife for off-side back up. I was mega impressed. Essentially, he shows a modern adaptation of how the samurai carried their blades and used them. Notwithstanding the $160 price tag, I think this set up, if used and trained with regularly, would be absoluetly *bleeping* devastating and effective.

And that's why I like it.

As gear goes, the quest continues for awesome stuff. However, training with it, knowing deployment options, AND ACTUALLY USING THE SHIT is generally way more important than fru-fru carry cases. Though those kick ass too.

Over and Out. Peace,


Thursday, February 02, 2012

Back on the Road

The Jeep that is.

I owned a Mustang once. I mean twice. Both were great in their own right. A 1967, old iron that carried respect and inspired awe, and a 1998, that owned the streets in modern fashion--at least to my mind. I was somewhat sad to see the '67 hauled off after I sold it to a father and son team off ebay. "Relief" is perhaps the best word to describe the emotion I felt when I took the money and ran, almost literally, to the bus stop after selling the '98. With 267k on the odo, it had more than paid its dues, carrying me from A to B during the best and worst of times.

But the Jeep. The Jeep. A Wrangler in 4WD with the legendary 4.0 under the hood. It's a whole different ball of wax altogether.

Jeeps are built like little tanks. Whereas Mustangs are built for speed, Jeeps take an entirely different approach, much like the turtle in the turtle and the hare parable. Mile for mile, the Jeep keeps marching along. It is not concerned about speed or obstacles, only about finishing the race.

Except when there is an electrical problem, that is.

LOL, I love Jeep Wranglers and their XJ (Cherokee) brethern. They inspire within me a wanderlust that can only be satisfied by getting behind the wheel and slamming the gas. If one can deal with their idiosyncries and not mind being stranded here and there occasionally, then owning a Jeep can be an absolute joy, albeit one that can be difficult to explain to others who don't share the same gluttony for occasional self-inflicted hardship and challenge.

These were my thoughts as I was lampooned on shoulder near the interstate by my house one morning several weeks ago, dialing AAA. I felt no animosity towards me vehicle, only a sense of angst that I couldn't get it to start, and awe mixed with fear at the mechanical conundrums that lie before me. Thank goodness for the Jeep forums, which helped in diagnosing and resolving my issues.

Things that got replaced/installed in this process:

*Champion 7034 sparkplugs
*Crankshaft Position Sensor
*Camshaft Position Sensor
*CCV Valves & Hoses
*Engine Coolant Temperature Sensor

The K&N air filter was cleaned, as well as the throttle body, Idle Air Control Sensor, fuel system (BG44k), and the battery, after being tested, had it and its cable leads cleaned up.

The Jeep is up and runs incredibly strong right now, but one last hurdle remains before full harmony can be achieved--the Fuel Regulator/filter on top of the gas tank. The check valve in it has failed, and so I have to crank 2 sometimes 3 times to build up enough fuel pressure to get her to fire up.

Through all this, I have grown ever closer to my '01 Wrangler, especially after driving the minivan to work. While the latter vehicle is perfectly comfortable, I love the fit and feel of my beast 4WD. After all this I am now inspired to spend stupid money on insane modifications that will actually kill MPG and street manners, and create increased off-road performance and personality.

Tragic or not, I just love these damn things. I guess I do fit in out here after all, lol.

Over & Out,


Monday, January 23, 2012

Weapons & Such 2012

All this month, I've been feeling like I've had my back to the wall, dueling with bullshit scenarios that all at once decide to rear their ugly head. From trips to the ER with my son to a broken down Jeep, to the whole family getting sick, there have been few things that have brought me back to Sun-Tzu like focus, two of which are thus:

1.) Prayer.

2.) Cleaning my weapons, i.e., guns.

I know it sounds banal to some, but there is nothing like taking some alone time to focus on your weapon(s). In this instance numerous weapon's lubrication and mechanical health. The smell of the oil and spent powder one encounters are the smells of war, at least when it comes to paper targets. And with that said, like the bullseye, said odors draws a person's mind into focus as well as to an avid appreciation of the tools of man.

After I was finished oiling up some weapons and wiping things down, after just a crazy couple of weeks, I felt renewed, refreshed, and refocused by paying attention to my go to pieces. So in the spirit of MadOgre and Martin's Blog (the last of which my computer OS will not let me comment to save my life), I will state my 3 weapon's goals for the year:

1.) Optics and hardware for the AR. Looking at a Red Dot, quad rail, handle and rear flip up site specifically, not to mention a carrying strap. Add in a few more P-Mags from JABTAC and bulk 5.56 and this weapon will be ready for domination. Add in a tactical carbine class and it will be all sweetness and light in the firearms department.

2.) 2nd Glock. Three is two, two is one, one is none. It would like to see a G17 RTF or additional Gen3 added to the cache. Having two of one's carry weapon is not a bad idea for numerous reasons. It's time to put my money where my mowth is and keep an extra just in case. Besides, a G17 is a fine investment. Hell, why not have 3?

3.) Gun Safe. One of the struggles in my house is the lack of space. I like to have things set up in stations, and an aptly placed gun safe would go a long way to improving my level of organization. I have guns placed strategically about the house, but those notwithstanding, I'd like to have a dedicated location for my weapons and other valuables.

I could go on ad nauseum with my weapon wish list, but I will stop now. Suffice it say, it always feels good to add to the supply. And with that,

Here's to wishing you all a zombie free 2012!

Over and Out,


Monday, January 02, 2012

Montgomery Co. & Thereabouts

We brought in the new year with some friends who live in Blacksburg, Va. Located three hours south of our permeneant dwelling, it is an entirely different world, ready for exploration. The above picture is of the New River flowing through nearby Giles County, where it enters Virginia from its western counterpart.

We had a nice time in Blacksburg, to be sure, but one of the draws for me are the unfamiliar yet spellbinding mountain patterns down there.

Blacksburg is the home of Va. Tech, and is surrounded by near and far off mountains. The town is elevated on hills which provide glorious views and rolling countryside, but for all practical purposes is mostly quiet, notwithstanding the college football games that draw fans from all over the state.

Some places in our country are very hyped and get a lot of national exposure, but the Blue Ridge and Appalacian Mountain ranges in Va., where they exist on the the Western side of the state and into West Va. rarely recieve what I believe is their proper homage.

It is the locale of rednecks, hillbillies, hikers, and history long-forgottten, according to much of the "common wisdom" that seem to circulate around these parts. The reality, however, is that these lands are largely untarnished and unexplored, and hold the promise of scenic vistas and grand adventure.

Looking at the topographical maps on google after our trip and scenic drive, it is clear that this is an explorers paradise. As I reflect on the coming year and how to spend our time, spending more time waterfalling is becoming part of the plan.

Va. is gorgeous country. Many areas are unsung because of ignorance or normalcy bias. However, as our feet hit the ground throughout 2012, my intention is to make time to investigate some of these far off lands firsthand and see what I've been missing.

To that end, here's to wishing you a grand 2012.

Over and Out,