Friday, August 28, 2015

Quick Update

Wanted to drop a quick post.  Life has been extremely busy and the blog has obviously not been a priority.  That being said, I still think about it!  Here's the rundown of what has been going on since the last post:

The house continues to be the main focus.  In the spirit of preparedness, I had an electrician come out and give the house a once over.  It became clear that some items needed to be addressed.  I am toying with the idea of asking how much a transfer switch would cost to be installed so that we could hook up our generator to the house's circuits in the event of a power outage.

Also, physical training has been going on (although not as much as I would like) in preparation for a GORUCK 9/11 Challenge and Light.  I am apprehensive of making it through the Welcome Party as it's been a shit show for myself for both of my previous Challenges.  I'm working on my weighted PT, but it's just been a tough time making it a priority.   The only solution I have found is to force myself into doing one off sets of 20-25 reps of a given exercise with my pack on throughout the day when I am working from home.  Evenings have been spent addressing chores and errands that need to be taken care of.

Oh, and I got a tick born illness a few weeks ago!  That took it out of me for almost two weeks.  Thank God for the miracle of modern antibiotics.

Well, that's all I can think of for now to share with you all.  There's definitely more going on, but those topics are what may hold any interest.  I'll keep checking in to let everyone know I'm alive.  Hopefully, once the house is more squared away I can find time (and motivation!) to catch up on all of the topics I have lined up.

Thanks for reading and take care!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Joys of Home Ownership and other Random Thoughts

Well, I told you I wouldn't be posting much unless I had time and felt like it.  Today I feel like it and have a short amount of time.  We are mostly into the new home.  We did discover some GREAT things about our 2 acre property.  Apparently, we already have an orchard which includes:

3 mulberry trees
2 peach trees
2 apple trees
1 plum tree

The wife already made a mulberry pie from scratch and it was fantastic.  The rest of the fruit has not been very great due to the lack of pruning and a bit of disease on the flesh of the peaches in particular.  We are already researching how to avoid this for next year.

The pond (which is larger than our own property) is fed by 3 hot springs.  From what I can tell, no one treats their lawns with chemicals.  I would say that covers our water situation in the event of an emergency!  Still wouldn't be a bad idea to have the water tested for chemical runoff.

Wildlife abounds as well.  We've seen rabbits, squirrels, deer, frogs and deer in abundance.  This past weekend some family friends came over to fish.  We caught two bass, a catfish and a blue gill within about an hour.

The house itself does have some work that needs to be done.  The most immediate is re-grading the land, especially around the walk out basement door.  It rained hard and fast yesterday and we soon had a river flowing into the basement.  We had an idea that this could happen from earlier rains where a smaller puddle seeped into the house under the door, but this was by far the most violent rain since moving in.  The door most likely needs to have some sealant reapplied around the door's threshold.  The water was able to get in underneath and flowed through an unfinished area and into a carpeted one.  We got most of the water out of the carpet, and have a fan running 24/7 on the carpet to dry it out as best as possible.  My only fear is mold, but hopefully our efforts to dry out the carpet will mitigate that.

I also discovered a wet spot on the drop ceiling in the basement the day after the storm (today, as of this post).  My guess is that water was blown into the soffit of the roof and migrated down the interior wall of the house.  It could also be that the gutters need to be cleaned out and water is rolling back into the house somehow.  I removed the drop ceiling tile panel and am keeping an eye on it to ensure it's not happening anymore (which would indicate a pipe leak instead).  The drop ceiling tile will need to be replaced.

Well, that's it for now.  The property and house has A LOT of potential, but it's also something that will need to be maintained.  If anyone has ideas on what I should do regarding my water woes, then please comment!



Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: The Reluctant Partisan, The Guerrilla Volume 1

This will be a short review of my first read through of John Mosby's "The Reluctant Partisan, The Guerrilla Volume 1".  It will be short because, frankly, it's been a while since I read it and the amount of information in it is staggering.  I would have to read it several times through to process it all and be putting it into practice to retain even half of it (if I was lucky).

"The Reluctant Partisan" is a collection of information on the basics and minimum requirements that a guerrilla fighter would need to have a chance in fighting against a larger conventional style force.  Mosby looks at this through the lens of what he refers to as "a SHTF scenario".  The information could be applied in slightly different scenarios, but the SHTF scenario (economic collapse followed by roving bands of cannibalistic San Franciscans, for example) is the guiding principle for a lot of the advice given.

The book covers topics such as leadership, physical training (abbreviated as PT, which is heavily emphasized), unarmed combatives, basics of what a rifleman should be able to do, emergency first aid in the context of a battlefield injury, fundamentals of land navigation, buddy team drills when in a fight, patrolling concepts, and mission planning.  There's also a lot of good information in the appendices which happen to include drills to sharpen your rifle/marksmanship skills.

Mosby's style is unreservedly blunt and crude.  If you don't like that, then you might have an even ruder awakening to what it really will take to survive a hairy situation.  However, you would be missing out on an incredible wealth of knowledge if you let his style stop you from reading his book.  If you just try to incorporate even the PT portion into your daily life, then I could guarantee you would be light years ahead of 90% of others.

Like I said, this review is intentionally short.  If I delve into any of the topics listed above, then I feel I would be doing a disservice to the material.  It really is that complete and deep.  If you have any questions about the material, then please comment below and I'll be more than happy to answer your question.  The cost as of this posting was $70.  Pretty steep, but if you look at it as a textbook, then it's on par with anything you see in a college bookstore.  So, again, don't hesitate to ask questions if you have reservations before purchasing.

You can also find a lot of Mosby's articles and columns over at Forward Observer Magazine

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Surprise!

Well, as I had mentioned I've been busy, busy, busy.  So, busy, in fact, that I've neglected the blog for over a month (and really more like two months).

An update on what has been going on is in order I suppose.  Basically, I had been tired of trying to come up with ideas for the blog.  Combining that with our recent selling of our house, having that fall through, only to get another buyer and then finally move (not even two weeks ago as of this post) and it's made for a very hectic and stressful past few months.  So, as I start to try and crank out material again, I will focus not so much on quantity and just let the posts come as they may.  That will most likely mean fewer posts from here on out.  However, I would like to use the blog as more of a journal.  That will be more pleasant for me and, hopefully, more interesting for anyone who happens to read this blog.

I'm going to attempt to catch up on the posts I promised including a book review of The Reluctant Partisan Vol 1, this year's pig slaughter and just recently my second go with Shivworks ECQC.

Stay tuned!  I'll do my best to not drag my feet.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Okay, I might be dead.

Kidding, kidding.  I've been insanely busy with work and this new move.  However, I did want to post some of the latest things I've been trying to do in my personal life.

My PT routine is still going even though it has ebbed and flowed based on other items.  I still have been able to find time to hit the gym and/or get out for some roadwork (sprints, rucks, running).

Also, I am signed up to do the ECQC course again this year.  I picked up one of Rings Blue guns to emulate my carry piece so that I can get the most out of the course and also brush up and train more readily on my own.  I really feel like this is one of the most practical and useful courses for anyone who carries or will use a handgun for self defense.

I mentioned that I will be moving and, boy, is it an upgrade.   I will be sure to write up some of my plans and how some DIY topics work out once the insanity dies down.

Hope you all are well!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I'm still alive, I promise!

Just a quick note for anyone who actually follows my blog, I haven't abandoned ship.  Our home is now under contract and there was a mad scramble to find one to move into.  The good news is, that we are looking at a 2 acre home with access to a fresh water pond!  The bad news is that between all of the items I'm having to scramble to get done and my job that it's been slim pickings on the free time to blog.

I definitely have posts in the works.  Hopefully, I can find time to catch my breath and finish a few of them out in the next few days.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

What Happened, America?: Magical Bling Bling Leads to School Suspension

What is America coming to when you cannot even pretend to be a character from the Lord of the Rings?

Texas boy suspended for saying he could make classmate ‘disappear’ with ‘Lord of the Rings’ sorcery

I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan and read The Hobbit in 4th grade.  That's right about the grade this little boy is in.  This easily could have been me playing around with my friends back in the day.

I am at a loss as usual when it comes to these articles.  Has the quality of our nation's educators been diluted down so badly that critical thinking is almost non-existent?  Have zero tolerance policies turned off that part of the brain that handles the cognitive abilities to determine play from real threats?  It sure seems so.  There are many great teachers out there.  My wife was a teacher for a few years.  Lord knows I have been exposed to what they have to deal with.  It seems to me that the numbers of these good teachers are dwindling and the mediocre to outright idiot teachers is on the rise.

Is our education system doomed?  Are quality teachers going to keep disappearing in favor of other professions?

What Happened, America?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

GORUCK Light #632: Kansas City, MO February 21, 2015

On the march.  Onward!

The week leading up to this GORUCK event was interesting in the weather department.  The Thursday prior saw the area get hit with 20 degrees, moderate snowfall and icy conditions.  I even rucked 2 miles in 30 minutes that evening to get a better idea of the layers I would need for the event on Saturday.  Friday night the Challenge participants were subjected to these same conditions with much more icy dangers.  As the Saturday for the Light event dawned, I expected to have at least below freezing temperatures and precipitation on the ground to contend with.

It being the Midwest, the sky parted, the sun came out shining and the temperature was around 40 degrees with a stiff 12-15 mile per hour breeze.  This melted and then dried the ground out almost all over the metro area.  The day had turned out to be perfect for a GORUCK event by the time I showed up at 2:00 pm at the Liberty Memorial.

Cadre Brad led Light class 632.  The Welcome Party was a good blood pumper to get ready for the movement portion of the event.  I actually fared pretty well compared to my very first GORUCK Light.  Part of that was due to my new workout regimen.  Brad had us move to his rental car for some once the Welcome Party was over.

Sand bags were passed out for some extra weight to lug on our first movement.  We were then told to head towards the Kauffman Performing Arts Center.  We immediately set a pace that was fairly quick.  As we got underway, I let some of the first timers know that we needed to maintain as fast a pace as possible in order to avoid any extra PT that might get dished out for slacking.

We arrived at our destination and Cadre Brad informed us that since we had set such a fast pace, that instead of PT, we would be having some fun.  There was still a good amount of snow on the ground.  A snowman contest was in order!

The clear winner, right?

I think they bought off the judge behind our backs.  Pfffft.

Alas, my team, while creative, couldn't capture the vote that mattered.  Our penalty was ten 8 count body builders.

The next destination was to the Lewis and Clark Monument.  Again, we made good time.  Brad asked for new leaders after about a 5 - 10 minute rest.  It was my turn.  We were to lead our team while carrying a "dirty bomb" (represented by a 5-6 foot long wooden beam) to the Richard L Berkley River Front Park.

Well, I and the other team leader screwed up and apparently misread the map.  We were in heading in the right direction.  However, we both thought that the street that ran south led straight to the trail.  Once we realized our mistake, we back tracked slightly and hiked parallel to the river until we saw the crossing (the same one we used during Challenge 1262, consequently).  Our little detour added almost 2 miles to the overall route (oops...).  Still, our pace was good and we got another rest at the destination.

Thankfully, the leadership torch was passed.  Next up was City Hall.  The movement to City Hall felt good.  It was time to put on a mid layer when we reached City Hall.  Once that was done, it was time to get back to the starting point, Liberty Memorial.  We took Grand most of the way back and passed through the Power and Light along the way.

Brad directed us to his rental as we approached Liberty Memorial.  We put the sand bags away and we were then informed we had finished the event!  Brad commented that we had made very good time and pointed out that we successfully worked as a team.  He then patched each one of us.

The details for this event:

Temperature: High of 50 degrees F
Mileage: 9.8 miles
Time: 4 hours 40 minutes

It was good to see new faces at this event.  I definitely felt much stronger throughout this event than I did previous events.  Funny what actually training does.  Who'd a thought?  This event was encouraging and served as motivation to get ready for the KC Challenge on June 19th.

On a gear/clothing related note, I tried out Triple Aught Design's Force 10 AC Cargo Pant on the recommendation of Brian over at AllDayRuckoff.  Brian, if you're reading this, great suggestion!  These worked out very well.  I only got a little damp, but the pants were dry wicked fast and were definitely comfortable with no binding at all.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they hold up in future events and in general day to day use.  I may write up my own review after wearing these more often.

Please comment below if you have any questions or just to drop a note.  And feel free to share with others.  Thanks!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

SHOT Show Survival Guide

I was able to attend the 2015 Shooting, Hunting Outdoor Trade Show also known as SHOT Show.  This is a show for those in the industries involved to see the latest offerings and to make purchases with dealers.  Officially, nothing is actually bought from the booths themselves.  Dealers will place orders with suppliers, but physical goods mostly don't change hands on the spot.  Others are there to cover the show in a media capacity.  The show this year had a reported 70,000 attendees and 15 miles of booths to see!

Clearly, this is a huge event.  I found my first time to be an incredible experience not only from an industry and new release point of view, but also as an opportunity to meet others that I normally would not get to see, including my TBOC brothers.

I wanted to share my "survival tips" with you in case you have the opportunity to go to SHOT show and it is your first time.  My hope is that it will make your first visit headache free and smooth out your experience.

Preparation:

  • Download the app - There is an app for android and iOS that allows you to mark the booths that you would like to visit.  It also pushes out notices during the week of SHOT show to keep you in the loop.  There's a few other features, but those were the ones I used the most.
  • Plan your route in advance - It can be a little hard to visualize the most efficient route unless you've been to the convention center that SHOT is held in.  My advice is to divide your route by floors and within each floor by room.  It's a little easier said than done once you get there, but take your time and get your bearings and you should be able to hit your route.  Whether you have enough time is another story.
  • Pack snacks and water - I survived on Cliff Bars and a 40 oz Klean Canteen full of water.
  • Carry a book bag for handouts and info - There definitely was not a shortage of stickers, patches, and other promotional items for the taking.  There's also catalogs of the new year's line up available.  And having a pack to carry it all in is essential.  Just be mindful of swinging it around and try not to take out any displays or passerbys.
  • Comfortable shoes and socks - I am a fairly fit and active guy.  I wore cushy Smartwool socks and my Merrells.  My knees and legs still hurt after the first day.  I can't imagine having sub par footwear compounding that.

Once there:
  • Pace yourself over the days - I highly recommend that if you want to take in as much as possible to pace yourself.  The show is enormous and only by careful navigation and planning and staying true to that will you have a chance at seeing most of it.  I would estimate that the entire time is probably what would be needed to have a realistic chance of seeing most of it.
  • Take the opportunity to sit if possible - Absolutely take the chance to sit if you can.  Your feet and legs will thank you.
  • Don't waste the booth personnel's time if you're not planning on buying - Keep in mind that this is a trade show.  If you are fortunate enough to attend (like I was), but will not be buying, then try not to take up the booth personnel's time.  They are there to make deals with distributors.  Just step back and observe.  Take it all in.
  • Do ask to take samples if it is questionable that are free - I did not see this happen, but I have heard of it and so thought it worth mentioning.  Sometimes, there are displays that may look like freebies or "freebies" that are only intended to be given to certain customers.  Therefore, be sure to ask before taking unless it's very obvious that they are there for the general trade show participants.
  • Do ask if you can take pictures - Officially, only Media pass folks are suppose to be able to take pictures inside the show.  However, I saw a lot of pictures being taken all over the place. I think that a good rule of thumb is to ask before taking.

If you're lucky enough to be invited to one of the after parties on any given night during the week of SHOT, then be armed with cash.  It generally is easier than trying to run your card in a busy club, bar, restaurant, etc.

Well, that's it.  If you've been to SHOT show and think I left anything out, then please comment below and share your tips.  Till next time!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Did I mention I was busy?

Sorry for the lack of posting.  Work and life has been busy and the blog has slipped on my priority list for the time being.  I still plan on posting out my SHOT show survival guide.

Also, I have a GORUCK Light this weekend.  The forecast is calling for a 36 degree high and ice pellets.  Should make for an interesting ruck.  I'll be fielding some new pants from TAD and plan on wearing my Patagonia base layers.  My only concern is overheating.  On top, I'll just be wearing the base layer (Capilene 3) with a dry fit long sleeve T over it.  I'll then wear my Truspec softshell over that to break the wind.  We should be moving quite a bit so my hope is that I'll stay relatively warm.

As always, I'll blog about the event.  Hopefully, sooner rather than later, but I'll get to it when I can.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

What Happened, America?: Government Harasses Parents for Letting Children Walk Home

The Nanny State strikes again.

Parents investigated for neglect after letting kids walk home alone

I remember traipsing around my neighborhood by the time I was 10 years old.  My best friend and I would go for bike rides down to the Kwik Shop to get candy or we'd go to the school playground and play on the equipment.

Now, we have social services and the police getting involved for a one mile walk?  The odds of a child being abducted are absurdly low.  Having the state step in on a very low risk activity is absolutely nuts.  Literally, it would not have taken the kids more than 30 minutes (the average time of a TV show) to make it home.

And we wonder why the current generation stays at home until they are in their mid 20's.  They've been conditioned through the culture and mindset of the state that you must always have a safety net.  Give me a break.  Let your children live and learn to govern themselves.

What Happened, America?

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Busy busy

Hey all just a quick update:  Last week I was fortunate enough to attend the 2015 SHOT show.  I'll be writing about my experience in the context of a "survival guide".  I won't be reviewing any actual items because several other media outlets have that covered.

Also, my PT regimen has really progressed.  I'll be sharing my improvements and some WODs that I've been doing.

Stay tuned for posts on both of these later this week and into the following weeks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Deer Hunting 2014 Ends with Lesson Learned

Yes, that's four different camo patterns.  I'm extra invisible this way.

Deer season for rifles rolled around again this year and I went during the first part of the season near Fall River, Ks.  I arrived on a Friday evening and spent the night on the land.  I woke up early the following morning and crawled up into the stand.  The waiting game began.

I spent all day Saturday with a break for lunch and Sunday morning in the stand.  Unfortunately, I did not see any deer at all.  My wife's uncles only saw three in total in that same amount of time.  I still had a great time though.  I had a squirrel crawl up into my stand and look at me like, "What the hell are you doing here!?"  I also worked on identifying the different songbirds including black capped chickadees and tufted titmouses.  I even saw a few blue birds and blue jays.  And one of the little guys took a crap on me.  Solid weekend.

I was disappointed, but undeterred for the January anterless-only season.  I went back to the land on a Friday night the second weekend of the anterless season and spent the night.  This time, I worked on controlling my scent a bit better than the last time by showering with unscented body wash and shampoo.  I also washed all my hunting clothes and undergarments in de-scenter laundry detergent and placed those garments in a plastic tub to keep them from picking up any odors until I got to the land.  I woke up, put on my clothes and made my way to the stand in the early morning hours.

My tools for the job.

It was much colder than the December hunt.  The temperature plus windchill made it feel like it was in the single digits that morning.  I had anticipated this and used chemical warmers for my body, hands and feet.  I also had three layers on my bottom and five layers on the top.

A gunshot rang out around 0930.  I immediately texted my wife's uncle to see if it was him.  It was!  Unfortunately, the shot missed and the doe did not present another shot for him as she ran around briefly before zipping out of sight.  1045 rolled around and it was time for a lunch break.

I climbed back into the stand around 1200 and kept watch until 1415.  We both came back down for a quick snack and then back into the stand at 1500.  Legal time was to end at 1756.  I kept watch, but still did not see anything as the hours passed.  I started to grow a bit frustrated.  The sun set.   I could not see very well as the light began to fail,  I decided to call it quits at 1748.  I quietly stood up and laid my rifle on the floor of the stand.  I was two steps down when I realized my mistake.  My head whipped around as I heard the snort and I saw a flash of white tail rear end disappear into the trees not 20 yards from me.  The deer had been behind a clump of four trees that had blocked my line of sight.  I kicked myself all the way home that evening:

"What if I had just sat till the end of legal time?"

"Would I have had a shot eventually?"

"Maybe it was a buck and I could not have shot it anyways."

"Would I have even seen it if it was in front of me?"

I would have answers to these questions if I had just followed a simple rule:  Stay in the stand to the end!  Thus, the lesson was learned.

Still, I did have a good time.  Being in the outdoors is a change of pace from my desk job and usual grind.  I also learned that I still need to adjust my hunting wardrobe when it comes to very cold weather.  I needed a better outer bottom layer.  Something with a bit more loft to trap the warm air generated by my body would have been perfect.  I was also lent a pair of boots with Thinsulate from one of my wife's uncles.  They worked great and plan on getting a pair for myself.

Have you missed an opportunity the way I did?  What other tips or lessons have you learned over the years?  I would love to hear them.  Please comment below and "Share" this post with others so they don't make the mistake I made!   Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Physical Training: New regimen

With the New Year, comes a new physical training (PT) regimen.  I had been doing heavy lifts (mostly deadlifts when pressed for time) and rucking on the weekends, but with my future full of GORUCK events and my past performance in the last Challenge, I knew that I needed better programming.

I took a page out of John Mosby's The Reluctant Partisan.  Here's a sample of what I will be doing for the foreseeable future:

Week 1 and 2 series

Mon
Front Squats 5 x 5 (or Goblet Squat as an alternative)

WOD (Workout of the Day)
Complete all rounds for time 10/9/8/7/6/5/4/3/2/1
50# sandbag step ups
50# sandbag turkish getups
70# KB swing


Wed
Power or Hanging Clean 5 x 3

WOD
As many rounds as possible in 10 minutes
5 chin ups/ pull ups
10 parallel bar dips
15 50# Sandbag situps

Fri
Bench Press 5 x 5

WOD
Every minute on the minute for 10 minutes:
6 reps - With ruck, 8 cnt bodybuilder

Week 3 series

Mon
Back Squat 5 x 5

WOD
TBD

Wed

Deadlift 5 x 5

WOD
TBD

Fri

Push Press 5 x 5

WOD
TBD

Note, that after the third week, that I rotate back to the week 1 series of exercises.

Concerning the WODs: This is what I am doing for the first week, but the second week could be a totally different set of WODs.  Some of the things that I take into consideration include not programming a WOD in such a way that it focuses on movements or exercises that would be focused on the heavy lift that I just did.  For example, I would not do a weighted pushup WOD after doing a bench press heavy lift.

The other consideration when programming my WODs for the week is to actually have some outdoor cardio.  For example, 400 meter sprints followed by rest in the outdoors is something that needs to be incorporated.  The temptation to limit the WOD to the gym must be avoided.

Concerning the "Big Lifts":  These should stay constant.  The idea is to generate absolute strength and changing the programming does not allow for gains in the respective lifts.

John Mosby does an excellent job on expanding on his reasoning which is solid and based on CrossFit (among other systems) and good old fashioned PT principles.  I highly recommend his book "The Reluctant Partisan" (be prepared for the sticker shock... but the price is very worth it).  He covers much more than just PT which may or may not be to your taste.  I'll probably be doing a review of the book once I have finished it.

Any suggestions for WODs to pair up with my heavy lifts?  I'm open to all suggestions!