Greenhouses... Greenhouses Everywhere!

Got an email from National Geographic and one of the articles was about how the Netherlands is the second largest exporter of food in the world... second only to the US and we have 200%+ more land. That's crazy!

How'd they do that?

Greenhouses! They're everywhere and they are multistory, robust, and technologically advanced! I like playing in the dirt and if I could do it all over again I'd probably been some kind of a farmer/homesteader living somewhere semi off-grid but I've always intended to supplement the farm income with greenhouses. 

This article just makes me want re-double my efforts to get out of the office rat race.

Here's the link: This Tiny Country Feeds the World

I only get one free article a month because apparently I don't have a subscription (thought I did) so hopefully the link works for everyone.

Daughter's Dilemma - Birth of a Conservative

Got a text from my high school daughter proclaiming, "OMG dad! My AP Gov class is full of screaming liberals!" 

After a full belly laugh at her expense, my first thought was, "Welcome to the world in which we live, kid."

Over the course of dinner she explained her comments further. I mostly listened as she vented... because that's what fathers with emotionally charged daughters do. When she was done, I offered the following as sage advice:

1.) Don't pick a fight, intellectual or other, unless you know you can win.

2.) If someone is espousing a specific view point for which you disagree, just listen and let them get it out of their system without interrupting or offering rebuttal. That being said, before you wade into the discussion and offer a counter argument, make sure you are armed with information and facts that back up your position.

Later that evening, I sent her an email full of links and starting points so she could start making her opinions stick in a political debate [provided below]. 

3.) Any position that runs counter to the Constitution is not a fact. It is actually a wish, or a dream, and is definitely a fallacy.

As an example of this statement, I pointed to the Electoral College and the post I created regarding that topic. Use this Blog link and scroll down to the January 10, 2017 post titled: The Electoral College - Working as Designed.

4.) Any discussion that becomes emotional, walk away. Passion is good, but passion isn't truth and passion isn't always factual. Walking away may enrage them further or give them the sense that they've won something, and that's fine. You won't be changing their mind any time soon anyway so wait until they calm down and are capable of having a rational conversation.

After the discussion she stated that she was nervous about speaking up because she didn't feel like 'she knew enough'. Good thing she has a dad that likes research... and conservatism! So I sent her an email with the following information (hopefully she uses the information):

And here are links to resources to help you form your opinion. At a minimum I'd start with twitter feeds and the Hillsdale online courses. The courses are about 10-20 minutes in length and will give you a good conservative foundation with which to start forming your arguments and rebuttals.

Dennis Prager
@dennisprager (twitter)

Hillsdale College

Free Online Course -->

Online Courses on the Constitution --> 


Article on Free Speech -->

Audio File on Left vs Right -->

Imprimis - Free Monthly Conversative Newsletter Free From Hillsdale -->

Ben Shapiro
@benshapiro (twitter)
Editor in Chief at the Daily Wire -->
Ben Shapiro Show (podcast) -->

Convergence of Thoughts

I've been parking in a new garage for work lately. So, instead of a twelve block jaunt, it's one... but I'm, like, number ninety on a waiting list so I have to do the daily parking until then. Anyway, the new parking garage in under the statehouse building so all three levels are below grade.

I tell you this so I can answer a reader submitted question as to how I come up with various topics and ideas I've written about, plan to write about, or I'm currently writing about.

In this particular instance, I've started jotting down notes due to the following observations and current events:

  1. I park in a subterranean parking garage
  2. The parking garage is directly under a state capital
  3. The parking garage is always crawling with State Troopers
  4. The Statehouse generally contains elected officials and occasionally the Governor
  5. I've been watching the TV show Jericho on Netflix
  6. POTUS is verbally sparing with NK over missile and weapons programs

I have more, but if you take those six things, a little whimsy, some creative license, and you have the makings of some rather interesting post apocalyptic fiction. Sometimes it's just as easy as that for me to trigger myself into the creative process.

Once you have the concept or what you think you want to write about, you transition from casual observer to problem solving sleuth. You start asking yourself questions based on story or character driven situations and then try to solve those issues. The key is to take copious notes, not only of your observations, but also the manner in which you think you may have reconciled something.

For example, item number three above. I was walking to my car after work and happened across a State Trooper. I introduced myself and even fired up the Amazon app on my phone so he could see that I was a published author and wouldn't think I was a complete loon for the questions I was about to ask him. Based on that two minute conversation, I was able to learn what State Troopers keep in their vehicles as part of their standard load out. Their is, of course, some customization based on the Trooper's preferences and patrol area.

The minute I got in my car, I retrieved my little black book of notes (Moleskiin of course...) and jotted down what he'd told me. For the record, the standard posture for a State Trooper's vehicle is:

  • Robust medical kit
  • Road flares
  • Wet weather gear
  • Cold weather gear (as the seasons dictate)
  • Assault rifle (AR-15)
  • Riot shotgun

I stopped short of asking him how many rounds they typically carry as that might have ended badly. Probably with me in cuffs being questioned despite the fact that I am a published author. Through observation though, I determined that, on their person, they carry:

  • Bullet proof vest
  • Service weapon
  • At least two loaded spare magazines
  • Mace/pepper spray
  • Taser
  • Cuffs

These notes were written down as well.

You take all of the stand alone things and mix 'em up and the next thing you know you have the makings of a new fiction piece tentatively titled, Subterranean.

Easy Peezy!

Operation Choke Point Choked Out

I'm not telling you anything new when I say that it appears that the previous administration targeted specific industries and voices over the course of those fun filled eight years. Thankfully, each of these tactics are being shut down one by one.

In what was known as Operation Choke Point, the federal government took it upon themselves to stymie not only the firearms and ammo industries (along with others), but also your ability to express your 2A rights. Basically, this federally sanctioned initiative turned the banking industry against legitimate and legal businesses for the sole purpose of restricting their access to loaned operational capital and other banking services. Any business arbitrarily considered 'high risk' for fraud and money laundering was targeted.

Meanwhile, the previous administration categorically denied it was targeting conservatives (see IRS Admits Targeting Conservatives and Another Victory Over the Abuse of IRS Targeting Conservatives and IRS Reveals List of Tea Party Groups Targeted For Extra Scrutiny) in the run up to the 2012 election or that it was trying to shut down the firearm and ammo industries. Oddly, the bulk of the businesses that were actually targeted in Operation Choke Point resided almost exclusively in industries allowing private citizens the ability to arm and protect themselves... a legally protected Right.

Which is not to say that some businesses in other industries, or that entire industries as a whole weren't impacted as well, but this unchecked targeting went on for years. As a result, many business were shuttered. While I'm against fraud and money laundering, the crux of the program skirted dangerously close, and sometimes crossed over, into the denial of due process under the law.

I'm not saying Trump is perfect and neither is anyone else, but it was good to see that these illegal miscarriages are being identified, opposition given voice, and that they are ultimately being shut down. Any American citizen should be allowed to live their lives in peace and in the manner they see fit as protect under the Constitution of the United States.

Here's the article from the Daily Signal that prompted this post.

Trump Justice Department End Operation Choke Point

Quiet Generator

Given the current political climate, many people are looking to stay the hell away from large metropolitan areas. Those folks out there like me that have to go into the city are doing so knowing they could caught in a bad situation very quickly. If you're one of those... be prepared. You can take that to mean what ever you want. Also, in the middle of my furious typing and post-fest last night I did a little research last night and saw that the terms 'off-grid' and 'homestead' are steadily climbing the search engine metrics for most searched on terms/words.

I wonder, do the people doing these searches have what it takes to go completely self-sufficient? My guess is probably not. Do these people have the first clue what it means to be self-sufficient and live off grid?


Sorry, had to get that out of my system...

Hopefully, next year I'll be unveiling my first of two non-fiction books to help these doe-eyed dreamers along. The working title for this is Preparing to Prepare: A General Guide to Self-Sufficiency and Preparedness. You can read a little write-up about that on the Works in Progress page under the My Works menu option

Man! I seriously need to some ADD meds... none of the above has anything to do with the title of this post. Well, maybe...

Sorry about that folks... here we go...

When I saw the search terms that were growing in popularity I remembered a string of texts I had earlier in the day where I was asked my opinion of the effects of an EMP on portable generators. Apparently, this fellow's wife recently gave the green light on the purchase and he wanted to know what he could do to harden it and protect it (ahem Faraday cage).

So, take those two things (doe-eyes and generators) and you have the premise for this post.

Scenario: Say Prom King 'Sparky' and Prom Queen 'Miffy' procure some land in the middle of no where and they need some form of electricity until they can drop a mini turbine into the crik or erect their wind mill or install their solar panels. Well, then they might want a generator. Now assume that the reigning King and Queen don't want to advertise their location. Smart move by Sparky and Miffy... even smarter that they diversified their generation sources (just saying).

Now, knowing that the only forms of silent electrical generation are the three things they have planned on installing, they need to find the quietest portable gas powered generator they can. Here's what I found in terms of articles:

Generator Advisor          Portable Generator Grader          Outdoor Living

Long story short... get an inverter generator. All three sites espouse this recommendation. However, this is a burdensome cost at nearly $1000. A grand for a generator sucks no matter how you slice it.

However, I wouldn't be me if I didn't have a cost effective alternative.

For those of us that aren't from 'old money' and are on a budget, you could always just buy the louder more cost effective portable generator and install a muffler (if the noise is being generated at this location) or build some form of sound baffling enclosure (if the noise is generated from the motor and not the exhaust). Here are some links for you to review on these two sound reduction concepts.

Jack's Small Engine          TractorByNet          YouTube1          YouTube2

Frankly, I'm a redneck and I'm married to a woman that balances the checkbook to the penny... so I'm more inclined to go with the cost effective alternative.

Complete and Utter Randomness

Current Events

There's a lot of stuff going on in the world today... North Korea is threatening Guam and the United States, extremist groups on both sides are escalating everything, and the MSM seems content to fan the flames no matter what. My only advice for any of this is to treat people with respect, but keep your head on a swivel and a round in the chamber.

Propane Cylinders

Quite the segue, no? Friend of mine said he might some extra propane cylinders laying around and I could have one or a couple if there were as the previous tenant left some. Alas, the neighbors absconded with them... filthy thieving buggers! Anyhoo, I was intrigued with the possibility of adding to the 'couple' (wink wink) I already have and managed to find many cylinders for sale for cheap on LetGo as well as CraigsList. Daddy's done gone shoppin' agin...

Ammo Reloading

This activity has always fascinated me so, using the sites noted above, I've begun sourcing a used shotgun reloader. I managed to find one on CraigsList for 12 ga. shells for $85 which beats the retail prices by a wide margin. Which leads me to another piece of advice... if you're gonna start a new hobby, do it on the cheap until you learn the in's and out's and whether or not you even enjoy it in the long run before you commit to it... so I guess it's kinda like dating.

 Extra Food for Cheap

Same friend that thought he had the extra cylinders turned me on to a place out in the country that is literally called Dings N Dents Grocery. My car was getting a brake job so I sweet talked the wife into driving out of her bubble in the city to this little bastion of bargain prices. Strolling through this little shop got me to thinking... if you were spending money on long term preps, stores like these would be a good place to go for the daily/weekly essentials. If you are so inclined, I'd recommend you start looking for places like Dings N Dents, Dollar Tree, and Aldi for the essentials. You'd be surprised what you can find if you aren't attached to name brands.

The Circle

The wife and I started watching a movie called The Circle tonight before she crashed (which is why I have time to write all of this randomness now). My first thought was that I see startling similarities to the cult like obedience I see in Apple employees. My second thought was that I've become Ron Swanson from Parks and Rec and I'd never survive in a place depicted in the movie The Circle. I swear, if you do manage to watch this movie, you'll start making plans to start a self-sufficient off-grid life... Big brother can kiss my ass.

Ammo Shot

Speaking of circles... I'd like to circle back to the Ammo Reloading section. Naturally, when one starts considering ammo reloading, one tends to do a little research and ask more than a few questions from people in the know. My brother, for example, doesn't have an auto progressive reloader. Instead, he had two single stage reloaders; one for 12 ga. and one for 20 ga. Now, he could just switch out the gauge part and use only one reloader, but given what I read on the Shotgun World forum, and the fact that he got them for free notwithstanding, it seems rather expensive to go either route. So my advice for this random topic is to start with the gauge/caliber that you shoot most and go from there.

Shot Sizes

In a nut shell, the smaller the number, the bigger the shot... here's a picture for us visual learners.

Image Credit and Copyright are noted on the image 

Image Credit and Copyright are noted on the image 

Which Shot or Caliber Should I Use?

Well, it really depends on what you're hunting. I prefer shotguns so I'll stick to that. Another image for the folks like me that like visuals instead of some schmuck droning on.

Image from Accessible Hunter

Image from Accessible Hunter

Shotgun Chokes

A choke in your shotgun can be beneficial depending on what you're doing and how good your aim is. As the image below explains...

Image from Bass Pro Shops

Image from Bass Pro Shops

I prefer to use a full choke for two reasons. 1.) I'm a pretty good shot, and 2.) I like a nice tight pattern for the longest amount of distance. Duck and geese don't always fly right over your blind ten to twenty yards off the deck! Ever try and hit a wood duck as it's zig zagging it's way through a cypress swamp? Without a full choke you're more likely to scar a tree or take off a tree limb from repeated misses than you are to put enough shot into the duck and bring it down. Also, bird dogs, especially young impetuous bird dogs, don't always wait for the handler to give the command to flush the pheasant, dove, or quail. Thus, the ability to accurately make the long range shot with a tight pattern is a necessity for a successful hunt.

Hmmm... I'm out of randomness. So, as Benjamin Buford Blue (aka Bubba in Forrest Gump) would say... that's about it.

A Note from the Author Regarding EMP

In the beginning of Part IV of my series, I have included a section I've titled, A Note from the Author. Over the course of these few pages, I explain that while an EMP can be used as an event, or even an antagonist in a book, it's not something you should be actively wishing for as a means to an end. Many authors use an EMP as the catalyst to their post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction and that's fine for fiction. However, the reality of an EMP is far more drastic and severe and, in my opinion, would essentially render any book fantasizing about an EMP moot. Even with the antics of North Korea as of late, an EMP's true effects are not something anyone should truly want.

Here's what I wrote:

A Note from the Author

Many writers within the fiction and dystopian genres are doing their readers a huge disservice when it comes to writing about EMP’s in general. Willingly, or knowingly, or not, many of the descriptions used fictionally to illustrate these after-effects, more often than not, tend to only include the topics that are most likely to be relatable to the reader’s imagination (death, disease, starvation, etc.). Readers have seen and heard PSA’s, infomercials, pleas on the radio for donations after the latest tragedy (earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, etc.). These are images that are already seared, conceptually at least in most cases, into their minds eye.

However, a key topic that is often not included, or at a minimum is glossed over while offering as few words as possible, in any sort of post-apocalyptic dystopian work are the effects of an EMP on our nations’ nuclear reactors. I wanted to take this opportunity to provide a statement and some context regarding this potential hazard.

  1. It is not in dispute that the United States electrical grid is vulnerable to an EMP. However, no one knows what will happen with regard to a nuclear power plant and its ability to shut down gracefully. Atmospheric testing on nuclear weapons was halted decades ago long before the first reactor came online; plus, we, as a nation, have never been targeted by a foreign or domestic actor with one of these weapons. EMP’s, by and large, were an unknown by-product from nuclear bomb testing. It wasn’t until there was an atmospheric detonation that scientists realized the potential for electrical disturbance.
  2. Many scientists, scholars, and government agencies believe that, due to the large diesel reserves for the backup generators at the reactor site (typically between 50,000-75,000 gallons), the operators will have no trouble shutting down the facility gracefully and avoid a meltdown; ala Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima.
  3. Conversely, skeptics decry the government’s assurances, and their abundant faith, in the generators. This skepticism is derived from the widely known principles (E1, E2, and E3 phases) for electrical disturbances that accompany an EMP. Plant owner/operators have not disclosed whether or not the generators are adequately shielded from an EMP.
  4. Skeptics also point out that, even if the generators are properly shrouded, or have hardened components, and the reactors are shut down gracefully, due to the limited fuel capacity (coupled with a presumed lack of trucking/transportation to replenish exhausted fuel supplies) the plants operators are merely delaying the inevitable. Believing, instead, that once the fuel runs out, the pools used to keep the rods cool will eventually evaporate, thereby resulting in a full-fledged uncontrolled meltdown.
  5. Scholars, scientists, skeptics, and government officials are all in agreement, that should we be stricken by an EMP, given the placement of nuclear reactors within the continental United States (see map), a cascading series of meltdowns would have a devastating effect. So much so, that most of the continental United States, from the Mississippi River east to the Atlantic, would be rendered an unimaginable radiological wasteland.

Image from International Nuclear Safety Center

I tend to lean more on the side of the skeptics. Not because they are skeptics per se, but rather because I have a great understanding of the physics behind the E1-E3 phases of an EMP.

As a result, it is my assertion that, because of the potential for so much widespread radiation leakage, a large swath of the population will contract some form of radiation sickness and likely perish. Frankly, this is the sole reason I do not address it in my series… it’s just too damn depressing to conceive and contemplate let alone write about.

Just know that this author has read up on it. I fully understand, conceptually at least, exactly what the effects of a meltdown would be with regard to the immediate reactor site, as well as the down-wind vicinities. I am choosing not to address it because the inclusion of this truth would prohibit the continuation of the series, or any series, as a whole.

That being said, I hope you continue to enjoy the series.

If you do nothing else, read Chapter 2. Electric Power in the Report of the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic (EMP) Attack. This PDF report is available for download on my Research/Downloads page. A great deal of information is available in this chapter as it pertains to the E1-E3 effects of an EMP.

The reason I wrote this section into my book is because I noticed that the Commission's report was noticeably thin with regard to nuclear reactors, specifically with regard to the lack of cooling pool water and fuel for the generators. When I tried to do further research outside of the report, the pickin's were pretty slim to say the least.

Also, while you're at it, give Chapter 1. Infrastructure Commonalities a gander. This chapter gives you a thorough understanding of Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems and details out the interconnectivity of all of the various aspects of our society. For example, there is an excellent case study regarding the San Diego Water Authority on page 2 which gives you a glimpse of just how vulnerable SCADA can be in just one of the industries comprising our infrastructure. It reads:

In November 1999, San Diego County Water Authority and San Diego Gas and Electric companies experienced severe electromagnetic interference to their SCADA wireless networks. Both companies found themselves unable to actuate critical valve openings and closings under remote control of the SCADA electronic systems. This inability necessitated sending technicians to remote locations to manually open and close water and gas valves, averting, in the words of a subsequent letter of complaint by the San Diego County Water Authority to the Federal Communications Commission, a potential “catastrophic failure” of the aqueduct system. The potential consequences of a failure of this 825 million gallon per day flow rate system ranged from “spilling vents at thousands of gallons per minute to aqueduct rupture with ensuing disruption of service, severe flooding, and related damage to private and public property.” The source of the SCADA failure was later determined to be radar operated on a ship 25 miles off the coast of San Diego.

For those of us that are visual learners, I leave you with this lasting image...

The above image really hammers home just how connected everything is. Technology has brought about a synergistic dance between these industries, but it is wrought with vulnerable gaps and holes that could potentially lead to our societies downfall.

For me, the entirety of the Commission's report boils down to one immutable fact. And just for shit's and giggles, I'll quote their own report:

No infrastructure other than electric power has the potential for nearly complete [societal] collapse in the event of a sufficiently robust EMP attack.

Death of Democracy

The democracy death spiral continues...

Conservative Tribune - Town Bans Criticism of Islam

This is just one of hundreds of articles I've read in recent months concerning limitations to and/or the out right shaving off of constitutional rights.

Chip... chip... chip... you weren't really using that Right were you?

I don't think the remnants of this democracy are going to go gentle into that that good night. At some point, if this business continues, there will be a tipping point that will lead to a messy reckoning.