Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Apologize For The Dearth Of Posts. I Offer A Repost.

Life (read job) has been getting in the way all this last week. I need to focus on the family today.

There is a lot in the news to consider and ruminate on. Keep planning, sharpen your knives and 'hawks, and keep your powder dry.

I offer the following repost:

Who Am I?

Something I have been thinking about and finally put down into words:

Who Am I?
I am fascinated by the world and its processes. I believe in God and His Son. I enjoy learning new things and ideas. I look for the good in people, but I see evil in all its forms everywhere. I long for peace, but prepare myself and my family for defend ourselves. I love to learn, but so many of our institutions of higher learning have become nothing more than profit centers enslaving our young and their future. I love vigorous but courteous debate.

I know that change is inevitable, but that it is not always good. Just because we can do it does not mean that we should. I enjoy good stories well told, whether by the fire, on the couch, at the table, or on the stage and screen. Family and friends help form the tribes of our lives, regardless of distance. I believe that government, like fire, can be either a helpful servant or a fearsome master. I may not have much, but I will help you with what I have. I have learned that sometimes it is better to walk than run, to stand when you cannot walk, and to accept the leaning help of a friend when you cannot even stand.

I have been blessed to be loved by three women in my life: my mother who bore and raised me, my wife who is my life long companion and fellow dream sharer, and my daughter who deserves the moon and stars to be laid down at her feet. My wife's and my four sons are like the cardinal points of the compass rose. Each one distinctly different in his own way, yet, they all have the potential to entirely encompass their worlds. I have been mentored by the best of men, and I have called many of them Friend and Brother. But only one have I called Dad, and my debt to him can never truly be totally repaid. I have lost friends, family and Brothers to sickness, war, and the crushing weight of life. They will never be forgotten.

I long for the undiscovered country, the unknown frontiers of old, where wonder and amazement can be found beyond the known horizon. I hope for the future, but keep the rhymes and rhythms of history ever present in mind. I enjoy the thinker, the poet, the singer, the inventor. I may not be rich or famous, but if wealth is measured by the relationships we have, I am truly among the wealthiest in the world. I love to grow and make things that others will enjoy. I have learned to enjoy the sunrise, the sunset, and the stars as they wheel through an incredible night sky. I admire the wizened eyes of the elderly man. I enjoy watching the innocence of a small child experiencing their world. Sometimes the simplest pleasures in life are also the most memorable and best to experience. If you and I disagree on something, it is okay. Let us find what we can agree on and go from there. If you cannot reconcile on that, then peace be unto you and you may go your way. Life is too short to hold grudges.

Yet, there is so much more to learn, love, share, and celebrate. So I face in another direction and step forward...


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Born For Such A Time As This

Esther 4:14 "And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

Mark 13:6-8 "6"Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many. 7"When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. 8"For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.…"

It is hard not to get caught up in the maelstrom of concern and worry over events in today's world. Between World War E(bola), Syria, ISIL, Russian moves in Ukraine, ISIS in Juarez, volcanoes erupting around the world, and a general grimness in economic news, one has to wonder what is going on. Having been fed a steady diet of Protestant End-Times Theology growing up, it is hard not to play connect the dots. But the professionally trained historian in me also realizes that this turmoil is nothing new. History is replete with time after time where civilization was reportedly on the brink of not only collapse, but total annihilation. 

Many reading this may know people who rather not want to know or deal with what is going on in the world. "If it is not good news, I'd rather not know it." I understand this mentality. But I believe it is the wrong one to have. Evil and catastrophe can be visited on you or your family at any given moment. No one or agency is responsible for your individual safety or your family's well being. Only you, and maybe a small community of family, friends, and neighbors who may share your ideas and convictions, have that responsibility. But ultimately, it is you.

I look at my children and I worry for their future. What will it be for them? Will they witness the fall of a way of life? Have I taught them enough? Have other parents worried the same in the past? Did my parents worry as I worry? Am I worrying too much? 

I don't think so.

Conflict and conquest have been an ever present companion of human existence on this planet. The myth of the peaceful native "at one with its surroundings" needs to be thrown out. Now. The rewriting and the erasing of "undesirable" historical fact needs to stop. Now. The acceptance of the fact that large portions of people around this planet despise the ideals of what America stands for, even if America does not actively stand for them currently, needs to start. Now. The acceptance of the fact that those same people would rather have you on your knees, marching away your loved ones to brutally short, horror filled lives after your own death, needs to be understood and believed. Now. I am not talking in hyperbole. I am speaking in fact. Look it up. Gird yourself. It is looking into the abyss.

The tolerance crowd and the naysayers will talk moral relativity and equivalency. They will trot out "this massacre" conducted by us, or a fact about "behavior during the crusades or this war." Atrocities are committed by all sides in conflict. This is not an excuse. Just fact. But here is another fact, traitors and quislings are usually the first ones led squawking to their own death by the very people they wanted to tolerate or cooperate with.

What do we do?

Do we continue to hide our heads in the sand, cover our ears to stop hearing the news we do not wish to hear, turn our backs against the appeals for help? This country, though still powerful, is broken. Our rudder is broken, and we are being tossed about on the sea of turmoil with no way to keep ourselves pointed straight. The reasons for this are legion, and we have no one to blame but ourselves. We can wallow in self pity and fear. We can wail at the heavens and beat our breast, lamenting our birth and existence. Many have done this in the past. Their bones litter the land. But what did Esther do when faced with her own possible death and the eradication of her people and their way of life?

She fasted and prayed for three days along with her people. She conformed herself with God's Will. She steadfastly and resolutely faced her fate, whether it was life or death. She faced it. She did not hide from it or shirk it. 

The evil of our time is not new. It has many faces. Many are deceptive. Some are not. We must be just as steadfast and resolute as Esther in our stand. Good men and women have stood against evil before and beat it back for a time. What will our story be? 

We must stand against evil in all its forms. This takes courage. This takes faith.  This takes will. This takes love. 

We may live. We may die. We all WILL die at some point. What are you willing to do against such relentless and reckless hate? How can it be stopped? Will it be stopped? Trust me, that same population group is teaching their children and their grandchildren to absolutely hate you and yours. Teach your children. Teach your grandchildren. Teach your neighbor. Do not teach them to hate. Teach them how to stand and face evil. You have no idea whose life you will touch by your example.

You were born for such a time as this.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Let Us Always Remember, But Also Let Us Never Forget

Let us always remember, but also let us never forget.

Today is the 13th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11/2001. I certainly remember where I was and what I was doing that day. I am sure that you do to if you were old enough to remember it. But remember, we now have a generation of young people who have no living memory of those events, yet, they have lived their entire lives under the cloud of the global war on terror.

They will never know the former relative ease of walking onto an airplane. Today, they get to have a personal inspection by a TSA agent. They will not experience those heady years after the fall of Communism, where anything seemed possible. Sure, there were hiccups along the way (Ruby Ridge, Waco, Khobar Towers, Oklahoma City, USS Cole, etc. You get the picture). They have lived their lives learning about Al Qaeda and Terror Threat levels. But do they really understand why all of this happening? It seems that they do not. What does that say about us?

Thirteen years ago we as a society looked at our Police Officers, Firefighters, EMS, and Military Service men and women with a great admiration. How do we look at them today? I am sure many of you still hold them in great regard. But, how does your neighbor look at them? Too many people see them now as a threat. Again, ask yourself why they see them as a threat. What does that say about us?

Americans seem to suffer from constant selective amnesia. We remember only what we want to, excluding all else. The problem is magnified by the impression that it is the whole society doing this, leaving us with a dazed, confused, and forgetful community.

Remember the events on this day. I know I will. Teach them to your children. Remind your neighbor of them. But, also teach your children about the way we were before. Remind your neighbor of how they lived before that day. Yes, we as a people made mistakes and did wrong. We also did things right. 

Remember those things.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"You Don't Choose A Life, You Live One."

"You Don't Choose A Life, You Live One."

This quote comes from a line the movie "The Way" that I watched this summer while at Fort Knox. In a nutshell, the story follows a widower whose only child dies on the Camino De Santiago (CDS) in Europe. As a last minute change of mind and heart, the father chooses to finish his son's pilgrimage, challenging and changing his own life. The CDS is a pilgrimage of about seven hundred miles. Many have died on the trail. Parts of the story are told through flashback discussions between the father and his son. The above quote is from one of those discussions.

In many ways our life's journey is much like a pilgrimage. Much like the father in The Way, we may think that we have our lives down pat. A career, a house, some adversity (but not too much) on the way, a family, yet, many people yearn for a more meaningful life. Some attempt to find this through faith, volunteerism, or diving more deeply into their career. Others chose drugs to "open" their mind. Sometimes we have to allow our lives to be altered in other ways. But what if there was a more profound way to change our lives and find meaning in it. One that accepts the journey, not just the destination.

I think that our life's journeys are made up of the people and relationships that we make along the way. Some are for only a minute, an hour, or a day. Others are longer. A year, several years, decades, or for the rest of our lives.

But, to be honest with ourselves, I think that it even goes deeper than that. Why are we skeptical of the powerful emotions and feelings in our lives? Why do we avoid the mystical experiences that can be had every day? People and experiences change us. They become orbits in our lives, affecting us much like the planets and stars affect each other in their orbits. We become so involved in planning our lives, we forget to live our lives. I am just as guilty as the next person about this. Desiring a modicum of control over the events in my own life drives me batty at times. Other times I can accept the changes both big and small. This is still a challenge in my own life.

Sometimes our dreams and desires change as we journey through our life. I am not talking about mid-life crisis or the permission to leave spouses and go chase the ever elusive happiness somewhere else. Stay with the orbits picture. Think about how a comet can be traveling in the orbit of a much larger star, yet, its own orbit takes it close to a planet that this also orbiting around the same star. Both the comet and the planet can be affected by their close passage to each other. Again, they may pass each other after a brief encounter, yet both are marked by thier passage. Think about somebody from your own life. Somebody who you only briefly knew, yet, you still can recall their name and the circumstances of your meeting.

Why do we avoid the mystical in our lives? Even people of faith are wary of mystics. Is it due to the perceived "all in" nature of mystics? I think that most mystics are just as awed by thier own experiences as would be the rest of us. The biggest difference that I can see on the face of the it, is that mystics are willing to allow themselves, or surrender themselves, to experience such things and are able to recognize it. Much of the hesitantcy that many people feel I think is due to the "noise" that is encountered in our everyday life, much of it intentional. I am not saying to go be a hermit somewhere, but being able to find the quiet in each day, to reflect on the choices made, paths taken, or avoided. Some of our lives are more stories of avoidance than stories of choices. Yet, choosing to avoid something is still a choice, having potentially far reaching effects.

Powerful feelings and emotions we hold close to ourselves have an influence here. We may choose a particular path due strongly held feelings, emotions, and beliefs. I am not asking to change your mind, what I am asking you to do to find out why you feel or believe something. When I was in college I had a particular professor for a Biblical Survey and Thought class. From day one, he was constantly throwing out ideas that ran counter to what I had been raised on in the church. I spent a lot of time in his office arguing against the points that he had brought in class. Then I realized that what he was actually doing was challenging us to find out what we believed and find the proof of it or the faith to believe it. Regardless, I soon found my own faith strengthened due to the study that I had to put into it.

Letting go of our life's plans and dreams can be frightening. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that we have to do this, this letting go of the dream job, the dream home, the dream mate. What I am saying is that we have to be willing to let go of it all.

"We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us."
-Joseph Campbell.

In the military, there is a saying attributed to the unofficial code of war known as "Murphy's Law":
"No plan survives first contact intact."

There is nothing wrong with planning your life. Just be open the possible change that life will bring to your plan.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

I Wonder What The Results Would Be, Part Duex

Go here for the original post.

Being on leave for the first time in nine months, I thought would be fun to follow up on some of the questions and ideas that I have been having the last several months. One of them was Rit dying the excellent British Desert DPM Combat Shirt.

Here is how it looks before I dyed it:

I was wearing a pair of old BDU pants for color contrast. So following the instructions I used the bucket or sink method of dying. I took a bucket and filled it with hot water and required amount of salt to assist the dying process. Then for the next thirty minutes I stirred the shirt in the tan dye/water mix. After that I rinsed it in the sink until all the water ran clear. Right away I knew that the results were not what I was intending, which was the entire shirt to be a solid tan color. However, I was determined to see the project through. After hand washing the shirt, I hung it outside to dry. After it was dry, I photographed the results.

In these two photos I chose to wear a pair of khaki shorts that had the same original lighter color in the shirt. As you can notice the lighter color was darkened down. The whole shirt toned down in fact. The interesting thing to me is that the Union Jack did not take any of the color at all. Actually, I began to like the results the more that I looked at it.

I still wonder what the results would be if I were to dye one of these shirts gray or light green. Future projects I guess.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Evil on the March (Reblogged from The American Catholic)

Again, more great reading from The American Catholic Blog. for the whole post and relevant videos.

Some quotes below:

"My favorite living historian Victor Davis Hanson wonders if we are living in a world today where the orcs are winning.

Tolkien’s literary purpose with orcs was not to explore the many shades of evil or the struggle within oneself to avoid the dark side; he did that well enough in dozens of once good but weak characters who went bad such as the turncoat Saruman the wizard, his sidekick Wormtongue, a few of the hobbits who had ruined the Shire, and, best of all, the multifaceted Gollum. Orcs, on the other hand, are unredeemable. Orcs, goblins, and trolls exist as the tools of the even more sinister in proud towers to destroy civilization, and know nothing other than killing and destruction. Their reward is to feed on the crumbs of what they have ruined."

"So we wait behind our suburban Maginot Lines, arguing over our quarter- and half-measure responses, refighting Iraq and Afghanistan as if they were the Somme and Verdun, assured that we can distract ourselves from the horrors abroad with psychodramas about Ferguson, the president’s golfing, his lectures on fairness, and which naked celebrity photo was hacked on the Internet.
Meanwhile the orcs are busy and growing and nearing the ramparts…"

And my favorite: "We are about to have a costly lesson in what foolishness that truly is."

Battle Belt Evolution (Edited on 9 September to include more pictures)

Almost a year ago I was intrigued by a post on Max Velocity's excellent blog. He detailed his start on the concept of a battle belt. I had long been contemplated something similar. Then with the purchase of one item, the Condor Padded Belt, I put together the following.

I used a SPEC OPs belt as the inner belt, a multi-cam Condor 2 magazine pouch which has been cut down, a Gerber multi-tool, a Condor Rifle Bag pouch being used as a first aid and survival pouch, and SOG SEAL Pup knife completed the belt. I have had that particular knife for nearly seventeen years. I carried it as a armed security guard and it went with me and was carried on a daily basis while I was in Iraq.

Things that I really liked about this set up was the fact that was light and could easily fit under a light jacket with minimal printing.

As time went on, I followed more of MV's posts on the gear evolution that he was going through. I was also scouring the internet and seeing what other people were doing. So late last month I finished version 2.0 of my personal battle belt.

Obviously there are changes to the set up. With changes come trade offs. It is no longer as light as the original version. I took a cue from several people and used netting and Krylon to change some of the oneness of color. Below is what is carried in the belt.

Starting from the viewers left: 4 PMAGs in two stacked Condor Gear mag pouches. Next to that is my medical pouch with an IFAK inside and extra dressings. The middle pouch is my survival and sustainment pouch. I have a length of 550 cord, two chem lights, my Gerber multi-tool, a whistle, a 5x monocular, a compass, and a baggie with a two space blankets, firemaking equipment and rubber bands. Next is the SOG SEAL Pup, then a pouch for my 1 qt canteen. I need to dig out my canteen cup for that as well. Then finally is two GI magazines duplexed in their own pouch. I like the idea of having 60 rounds on the gun. I have run some tests doing fast reloads with the duplex system and liked how fast I could get the gun back into battery and firing.

I have left room for a pistol holster and mag pouches for reloads for a pistol whenever I am able to purchase one. The evolution continues. I have put the belt on and found that it is still quite comfortable even with the weight more than doubled. I need more testing on the range.

I have planned more gear articles for some of the other gear that I have and have set up for my use.


I was able to have some pictures taken showing how the battle belt is worn:

The British Combat shirt project is here, and the boonie hat is the brilliant Slangvel Recce Boonie in Kryptek Highlander pattern. 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interesting Articles As Of Late (Edited to add more articles)(Edited again to add part two to the first link)

It has been very busy around the household. Posting has slowed down. However, the reading never stops. Below are some links to articles of late that I have found interesting:

Edited 8 Sep:

The reason why I chose these two first is because they are both extremely important to read.


Just ran across the next two. asks the question. What is your answer, brings up the interesting question as well. Have you been feeling like we are walking into an ambush? You are not the only one. This post relates an interesting story. Acts 2:17 states:

And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

Frank Herbert also wrote in Dune: "Knowing where the trap is - that's the first step in evading it." 

Too many people are writing and sharing that this summer they have been impressed upon that something big is just around the corner. I for one count myself a member of that group. I cannot shake it. It is a constant thought always turning in some portion of my mind.

Totalitarianism is in many forms roaming the earth right. We must resist it however we can. The odds never mattered anyway.