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Never stand begging for that which you have the power to earn.......
- Miguel de Cervantes
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Avoid the dark side
As warriors, we have a daily choice on which path to take, light or dark. This is not some Star Wars Jedi inspired fiction. It is, and always has been, the truth. As long as our kind have walked the earth, we have faced two daily choices; to use our skills for good or evil and to wallow in the things we have seen and done. The wrong decision in either case will lead to a downward spiral to darkness, Regardless of whether you are military, law enforcement or are a self-appointed protector of your family and tribe, these are your daily choices.
The second of these two is the hardest. Those who have and continue to serve often have had to see and do things that those who haven’t cannot imagine. No matter how many sessions of Halo they’ve played. I’m not a mental health professional, I can only speak to how I made friends with my nightmares. First, a physical way to get the hate out. A heavy bag, heavy iron and sprints work for me. Next, faith, true friends, and a good woman. Finally, have a purpose for being. All these things helped me through some bad times, gave me something to focus on and kept the darker emotions at bay and under control. Some will say that one doesn’t have a choice in these matters. After all, horrible things that are experienced will always produce negative outcomes. I disagree. The experience will always change you. I have news for you, ALL experiences change you. How you deal with it is your choice. I didn’t say it was easy, or quick, for some it is a lifelong battle. What I did say is it’s a choice.
The missus and I were traveling recently. We met two men who were also on the road, one was dressed as a cowboy, which it turned out he was. The other was a young man in a wheelchair, he was missing both legs, one arm and I found out later, one eye. We got to talking and learned that the cowboy works with wounded veterans. He takes them on cattle drives for the Semper Fi Fund. The work and the evenings around the campfire talking with others who have been through similar experiences has helped many deal with the mental and emotional aftermath of the war and the wounds they carry, both in and outside. The more things change, the more they stay the same, eh? In our tribal past, warriors would gather around the fires with trusted comrades and talk about the battle and what they did. This was to pass on lessons learned so others in the tribe would live and prevail and to decompress. Pain shared is pain lessened as the saying goes. It helped then, no reason to think it shouldn’t help now. Of course, some hack with a college degree and the drug companies won’t make any money, but hey, nothings perfect, right? Back to our travelers, they were up from the Carolinas to get a saddle made so the young man in the wheelchair could ride a horse and herd cattle! The young man had been an EOD tech and on his last tour in the sandbox his luck ran out, his words, not mine. He said, not in so many words, that he refused to give up. He chose to face what he’d seen and what had happened to him and drive on. I cannot tell you how humbled and honored I was to meet these two men.
The first choice, using our skills for good or evil is the other we must make daily. Let’s face it, if you are a warrior you spend a lot of time practicing, and even more time thinking about, doing bad things to people. Note, I didn’t say bad people. Martial skills are like guns, knives or any other tool, they are neutral. If I kick some guy in the groin, choke him unconscious, cut him or shoot him, whether I’m setting him up to take his wallet or protecting myself from his attack, the action is the same. The intent and the context we use them in is what matters. The bottom line is this, we train to be dangerous people. I have always sought to be a dangerous man, and I intend to remain one until the day I die. If we are not making ourselves better at that, than we are wasting an incredible amount of time, energy and resources that could be used elsewhere. The decision I, and all of us who walk this path, need to make daily is this, dangerous to who? I choose to be dangerous to those who would harm me, those I hold dear and the innocents I am around daily.
In this day and age, I am reminded almost daily, of something Robert Howard said in one of the Conan stories he wrote. Barbarians have better manners then the civilized men, because the civilized men aren’t likely to get their skull cleaved for insulting someone. There are days that the only thing that saves some self important ass hat is not society’s laws, but our morality. Hmmm, that may be why we make the townsfolk nervous sometime, even when we’re on their side. It is also why every warrior society throughout history has an ethical code that they seek to live by. Think I’m wrong? Look it up, the western knights, be they Templars, Hospitalers or any others, samurai, Hwarang, the Apache and Sioux, the Spartans, Vikings and the Filipinos all have a code they teach their warriors. We see the same thing in modern times with the Creeds of the various branches of the military and the honor codes at their academies. These developed for two reasons, one to emphasize the qualities that men need so that they can trust the man to their left and their right. Second, without a code that shows us right from wrong we are unguided missiles.
I’ve been told by those who had the privilege to train with the late, great Sonny Umpad, that he said every blade has two edges. The edge that saves a life, and the edge that takes one. We need to choose the lifesaving edge. So, you have a choice, you can be a hero or a thug. If you choose to be a thug, two things will ultimately be lost. You will not be there for your family, your tribe and ultimately, yourself. Second, you will waste your legend. You will not be an example to hold up. You will not be the hero that the next generation needs. You will inspire no stories to teach the young. Instead, you’ll be some loser whose name will be forgotten, because it’s not worth remembering.
May 16, 2020
It was past time for some changes here. Those of you who have been following this site/blog/whatever over the years have noticed a lack of posts and a dearth of writing. All too true. When I started this, at the suggestion of Uncle JAK and the technical assistance and encouragement of my wife, I had things to say. For the past few years, I didn't feel like I did, at least not as often. That's changed. Maybe it's the plague (I like the word plague, much better than pandemic, don't you?) Maybe it's some new folks I've gotten together with. Maybe my day job is really pissing me off.....nah, that's not new. Doesn't matter, you will have things to read here, not just links to click on to get someone else's thoughts. Before I go further, there are some housekeeping items. The quotes that were scattered on this page can still be found, on the Quotes and Links page. Pics are at the bottom of this page. You can still reach me at the email under the Spike's Place Banner above. Everything else that had sat here for so long is gone. If you hadn't gotten it already, you're out of luck. There is a new article of the month up here. I also reprinted an older one down below, something a bit more philosophical for your contemplation. Those along with this little stream of consciousness rant and you have three things to read and mull over. I do want to hear from you. I would like this to be the start of a conversation. Enough of that.
Next, and more importantly, I got word that Mike Kaye passed away recently. Deepest condolences to his family and students. Mike was a class act I met at the Riddle of Steel many years ago. A talented martial artist and bladesman and damn, could he sharpen a knife. Fair winds, sir.
So, the missus and I moved about eight months ago. We now have more than twice the land for half the mortgage. We also have a place we can grow food and raise some livestock. The downside is we had to rehab a 1974 vintage double wide that came complete with original avocado green carpet, drapes and appliances. That stuff was ugly when I was a kid, the years have not improved them. There is a terrific range just up the road where I can teach firearms. We hustled and got the place buttoned up and livable for winter. We made plans. I scheduled classes, and then the plague hit.
What's that? You in the back, I didn't hear the question. What do I think of the plague? The short answer is, if this is the apocalypse, I'm underwhelmed. Look at it, no zombies, haven't seen one guy driving a semi sporting a mohawk and war paint. All kidding aside here is what I think.
I don't believe the ChiComs released this on purpose. I also doubt it was a virus that jumped from humans to animals. I think they were playing with something in that lab by the wet market and it got away from them. Same thing happened to the Soviets, I mean the Russians, back in the '70's. The difference is that the old USSR hadn't set themselves up to dominate the world economically by first sucking them in with cheap goods made by slave labor. Either way, it doesn't really matter. What does matter is that we have to deal with it now.
I've changed my opinion on the virus as the story has progressed a couple times. At first, I figured this was going to be nothing. Like the Bird Flu, SARS, etc. It would burnout and fade away. Then the numbers started to climb, the horror stories began, and I started taking notice. The missus and I planned to hunker down until it burned out. That's about the time I started noticing the stench of fear that people had, and the politicians encouraged. Still, my thought was that the gumint knew something they weren't telling, like China had come clean and told them it's a bio-weapon and we were all screwed. Then I noticed that what I saw and was learning from people in most of the country didn't match the rhetoric, the reaction and the fear. So, you ask, where am I now? First, I'm somewhere between 'Dude, it's the flu' and 'We're all gonna die!' (By the way, you know none of us get's out of this alive, right?) The 'dude it's the flu' crowd forget one important detail. The flu is a serious disease, every year it stacks bodies. This one is different because of how contagious it is. I think, ultimately, the damage is not going to be from the disease itself. Unless you are already compromised in some way. The real damage is going to be from the second and third order effects. Economic and societal damage from panicked decisions based on flawed models are going to do more long term damage to this nation then the virus itself. The inability or unwillingness to alter course when facts come in that don't agree with some asshat in a labcoat's pet theory is what is going to do the most harm.
Some things this has shown is how easy people are to manipulate once you have them scared. Population density matters. If you have done your homework, and a little work before hand, serious situations are a lot less serious.
The real question is, what are you going to do? Do you sit back, do what you're told, and hope the monster goes away? I hope not. I'm not gonna lie. More than once during this the wife and I looked at each other and said, we should've stayed in the old place. You know what? We didn't, so we reminded ourselves why the new place is better. We then stood up and got to work making our position better. Yesterday started early for me, writing and working on cleaning this site up for a couple hours. I then got to it, tilled up another section of garden and installed a rain catchment system on the chicken coop I built.
What are you waiting for? Get some skills, and not just the cool guy pew pew stuff. Those are important, but so is first aid, carpentry, do you know how to garden, can you cook? Get out and do your PT, break a sweat. Forget Netflix and chill. Get your dryfire in. Get stronger, get smarter, improve your position. Read, journal and in the name of all that's Holy....THINK!
What does my current training look like? PT wise, my weight pile is still in storage. The plans for the barn had to get put on hold. So, I'm making due with three sets of kettlebells and a makeshift pullup bar and dip station.
I have to confess, I miss my heavy bag. Typically, I'll knock out 250 pushups in the morning in as few sets as possible. Follow that up with some focused skill work for another 150-250 reps. I can do that at work. We're fortunate, the people I work for convinced the state that they should stay open. We haven't had to dip into savings and can help family, tribe and neighbors. When I get home, it's either strength or conditioning work. Strength work is currently full body workouts. Conditioning is either a variation on Pavel's Simple But Sinister or sprints. My two current favorites are run 600 yards to warmup (because that is how far it is to the parking lot) then sprint 100 yards, walk back to the start and repeat ten times. The other is set up two 26 kg 'bells 50 yards apart. Do 10 swings, sprint to the second bell. Repeat for at least ten reps. About 85 percent of my dryfire time is spent on pistol. The rest on rifle or shotgun.
What are we doing differently? Honestly, not much. We originally planned to try a few different methods in the garden. We are doing that. We are just doing so at a bigger scale. We're experimenting to see what will work best in our location. In the meantime, we are still stacking food. We both like good food and good wine, so that's shifted to more experimenting at home with recipes. Other than those minor things, and not being able to meet people face to face it hasn't changed much for us.
So, that's the update. I plan on writing more frequently. Less links more rants. Let me know what you think.
May 25, 2020
Greetings, all. It is Memorial Day weekend. Many of you know I will not wish you a "Happy Memorial Day" many holy days are happy, Christmas, Resurrection Day, Thanksgiving, July 4th, but this day should not be happy, it should be thoughtful, reflective even somber. This is the day we remember those that did not come home while defending this nation. So, join me in a glass (in my case, several fingers of Woodford Reserve, if you're wondering) and toast the memory of those that are no longer with us.
The missus and I traveled to see some family. I won't mention where we went, since I may or may not have violated some Malum Prohibitum regulations during the trip. While on the road we saw some amazing examples of asshat behavior. Remember, I will not, in this time of plague, make fun of anyone if they choose to use PPE of any kind. I don't care if you leave the house in a full hazmat suit. I will, however, make fun of you if you do stupid things, like driving by yourself while wearing a surgical mask or, as I saw today, walk into a public restroom in mask and gloves to use the urinal and not wash your hands afterwards. Seriously, you're worried about touching yourself, after you touched the doorknob with gloves that you didn't take off? But didn't wash your hands? I got nothin'
I found this video from 1999 by George Carlin, could have written it yesterday. Don't watch with the kids around, the language is classic Carlin, in other words, rough.
A training tip for today. Let's look at reloading a magazine fed weapon, pistol or rifle. Tube, internal box or other systems don't apply to this. Back in the day, I was taught different variations of reload. Nowadays, I teach two types or variations. One that retains the magazine and one that doesn't.
A little history first. Many of the reloading techniques I was taught came straight from IPSC and other competition schools of thought. The problem with these is that speed is a primary factor in technique. The thing to remember is that the score is based on time and hits on target. This resulted in the development of techniques that had the shooter trying to eject the magazine with one round left in it and not cycling the action. In a match, no big deal if St Michael pisses in your flintlock (metaphorically speaking) and your pistol is dirty and the slide stop doesn't engage and you put a full mag into a weapon with an empty chamber and you get a click instead of a bang. It's just points. When it's your life, well, that's a problem isn't it? Second, the primary reload I teach retains the spent magazine in some way rather than tossing them aside carelessly because, well, we can pick them up after this string of fire.
The biggest possible picture (concept) is this; the weapon is kept, as much as possible, in your work space. In other words, you have it up where you can see it and maintain awareness of your surroundings. Think of holding up a can of soup in the grocery store to read the label. Old mag out, new mag in, cycle the action. Regardless of weapons specific issues. When the time comes to reload, you remove the old (spent) magazine, stow it somewhere, retrieve a fresh magazine and insert it, then cycle the action before getting back into the fight. If you cannot retain the magazine, for whatever reason, the process is the same, remove the old magazine, load a fresh magazine and cycle the action. Note, there is no two magazines in one hand juggling act here. One mag in the hand at a time. This takes a bit longer, but there is less chance of dropping things that your life depends on.
Let's look a little closer at this process. Where do you put the old magazine? It depends, how are you kitted out? Do you have a war belt or plate carrier with a dump pouch? Great, but what if you're not going out to face a horde of looters. What if you are just going to town and look like everyone else, jeans, shirt, no pew pew gear visible? The conventional answer was to put the spent mag in either a magazine carrier or a pocket. Right, that works fine, if you are using an empty magazine carrier for that purpose. I don't. That leads us to the second commonly recommended move, put it in a pocket. Got news for you. All my pockets have things in them. Getting a partially depleted pistol magazine is difficult enough, forget a rifle mag. The solution I settled on I didn't come up with on my own. Nope, I stole the idea. An old school solution is to stuff the spent mags in your undershirt. It's not elegant, it's not 'pretty' but it works.
The process for a reload in which you retain the depleted magazine then looks like this. You get to that famous lull in the action. You are, preferably, behind cover. Your support hand goes to the magazine in your weapon. You activate the magazine release and manually withdraw the depleted magazine. Stow the depleted magazine in your undershirt. Secure your fresh magazine and insert it in the weapons magazine well. Cycle the weapons action and get back in the fight. Done.
Now, if you cannot retain the depleted magazine for whatever reason. Secure a fresh magazine in your hand, then and only then, activate the magazine release. As the old magazine falls free, insert the new magazine in the magazine well. Cycle the action and get back to work.
A good drill to practice this is Shoot one, Load one. It can be done live or as a dry fire drill. In it's most basic form, face your target at an appropriate distance. At the signal to begin, fire one round/execute one dry fire press, perform the reload you wish to practice and fire a second round. Reset the drill and repeat. If using a rifle, begin with the weapon at a ready position and snap in for the first shot/press. If you are training with your pistol, draw from however you normally carry it. Be sure to practice all the other fundamentals. Present the weapons smoothly, acquire your sight picture with good sight alignment and press the shot without disturbing your sights. This drill focuses on reloads, but that doesn't mean everything else becomes monkeys and footballs.
This drill can be expanded in many different ways to make it more 'advanced'. Engaging multiple targets, having cover available to move to, either before or after the first shot or performing it with a partner so it expands to include communicating with another shooter are just a few. You can figure out others. When you do, let me know what you came up with. Now get out there and get some work in.
June 20, 2020
Hello all, I'm more than a little behind on my updates and I owe you an article. The article has been delayed. We have been busy doing the things as the Osso Independiente would say. What who is that,?why Bear of Bear Independent. If you haven't had a chance to check out his content. I highly recommend it.
Since we last talked, the world has seemingly caught fire. More on that in a moment.
I've been spending time between my current day job, my extended and close tribe and, of course, family and the chores around the place.
Current day job? Meh, I trade time for money, that's it. What I will say is that with the current insanity in the world, I am actively looking for a new gig, again, more on that shortly.
I spent some quality time at the range with members of my extended tribe. We ran a mixed day of pistol and carbine. It was the first time any of us had been on a range together. Skills were across the board. A couple of shooters I'd have been comfortable starting CQB drills with after we went through our warm ups. Others were just getting their fundamentals down. At the end of the day, we'd all either reinforced or built skills and, more importantly, frith and the trust that goes along with it.
The close tribe is getting closer. It's truly good to be able to call or be called to help out in some way. Last night I had planned on building some more raised beds for the garden. A brother called right before dinner about picking up some old bales of straw I'd offered him for his garden. The missus and I ate and I climbed up in the loft and started tossing down bales, my wife asked me if my brother had a truck. To make a long story short, we loaded up ours and took it over to them. It gave us a chance to do a little work and catch up. The things I had planned got postponed til today. Making the links stronger is more critical.
So, the world is on fire. Riots and the threat of them have taken up most of the news. I'm more concerned with the loss of critical thinking and the spirit of appeasement that I see. Couple things up front. The cop in Minnesota where this mess started needs to stand trial. It won't be a fair and impartial trial. He'll likely be convicted of a more serious offense then what he should. As a bone to the protestors. The conviction will later be overturned by an appellate court. He does need to lose his badge and do some time for his actions. The shooting in Atlanta? It was, in my opinion, a clean shoot, period . Again, the cop will be thrown to wolves in the hopes the rest of us won't be eaten. Now, should there be protests? Absolutely, it is a right enshrined in the U. S. Constitution to peacefully assemble for the redress of grievances. This more then qualifies. The thing is this, how does burning down a neighborhood of locally owned businesses protest a grievance peaceful or otherwise. That is not a protest, that is a tantrum. I have seen this before. I was working a gig at the G20 years ago in Pittsburgh. The anarchists showed up and tore the town up to protest globalization, capitalism, whatever. They tore the town up destroying property owned, mainly, by mom and pop local businesses. Bottom line, protestors should be listened to, whether we agree with them or not. Riots on the other hand, need to be put down quickly.
Which brings me to another point. Seems everyone entrenched in the system now needs to virtue signal how unbiased they are. A company I know if, for instance, made a loud and public proclamation that they will be donating significant amounts of money to a list of groups, many of which are questionable, all in the name of diversity and inclusion. Meanwhile, I know of one man who is losing his job there because of an anonymous complaint about a facebook post he put up on his personal page. I didn't see the post, some that did said that it wasn't racist or anything else. It judged a group by their actions, the content of their character if you will, not the color of their skin. So much for diversity and inclusion.
So, what do you do? Me, I keep doing the things. I plant my garden I raise my animals and I continue to build my community. I believe the wheels are coming off this bus. You need to have people you can count on outside of the system.
With that in mind, it's going to be a busy day. I have garden beds to build, topsoil to spread and we have a neighborhood gathering tonight (up yours Drs. Acton and Fauci) so I'm going to finish my coffee, get a run in and get going on my day. Remember the world may be on fire, but if you are doing the things, you are blessed, I know I am. Have a good one.
June 27, 2020
Morning! Hope you are all doing well. We've been busy, doing the things. The garden is in, and for the most part, doing well. We are stacking food, honing skills and trying to make sense of the madness we see in the news. But, I digress. There is a new article of the month up. A warning and some thoughts on what to do that came out of a situation at the day job this week.
I need to get moving. Family is coming over this afternoon. So, morning PT it is before we plant some more in the garden.
Get out, do the things and let me know what you are up to.
June 29, 2020
Evening, I wanted to give you a quick update. We were busy doing the things this weekend along with spending some quality time with family and staying in touch with the tribe. We put more plants in the garden and stacked more food in storage.
A rural life has it's own hazards. I, and I'm guessing most of you, tend at first thought to look at threats like looters. Hopefully, you're out far enough that riots aren't an issue unless you go into town. After that, you've got things like wildlife, fire, etc. I found one of those stupid things that could have taken me off line in a big way. The missus and I were resetting a fence around one of the gardens. She had asked me to put a couple more raised beds together. Once they were in place, filled with dirt and she got the seeds in, we had to expand the fence around it. That part went pretty smoothly. When we were done, she went to take care of the chickens or something else. I began rolling up the remaining fencing. I anchored(?) one end and began rolling. I had about three feet left and the anchored end worked loose and snapped up towards my head and face. I dropped my chin and brought my forearm up between the incoming fence and my eyes. That was when I felt a 14 gauge fencewire bury itself in my arm. I'm guessing it lodged into either my Pronator Teres or the Flexor Carpi Radialis. Either way, it hurt like hell. Most of you know, you shouldn't remove an impaled object. I didn't have any numbness or loss of motor function so nerve damage wasn't an issue. I had a tourniquet in my back pocket, so I knew if it hit the ulnar artery I could tie off. So I pulled the wire out. Fortunately, the bleeding was venous, I let it go to clean the wound. The missus, by this time, realized there was an issue. She got the kit out, cleaned the wound and patched it up.
Some lessons learned. I wasn't wearing eye pro. I should have been. I was working with fencing. If you've done this, you know what I'm talking about. If you haven't trust me, wear eye pro. I anchored one corner of the fence I was rolling, should have done either an entire edge or two corners. Turtling up and getting an arm up are both natural and trained responses. However, if I'd let my mind wander during this it happened quick enough that I could have lost an eye.
The good news is the worst I've got is a sore arm. The kettlebells and pullups will have to wait a few days. For now, it's pushups, squats, floor exercises and running. On that note, I've been running only sprints for awhile. I decided to get back to being able to run up to three miles. Note, I said run, not jog. I picked up a new pair of running shoes. I've used Nikes for years, but with their recent decision to hire people I don't agree with (hey, Kaepernick has every right to take a knee, I have the right to NOT support him by purchasing shoes from the company that supports him) Got a pair of Salomon trail shoes. Wish I'd done it years ago. Great shoes, can't say enough good about them.
So, that's it for now. Go out, do the things, but recognize the less apparent threats to your well being. Have a good one.