“May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one.”

"This report is maybe 12-years-old. Parliament buried it, and it stayed buried till River dug it up. This is what they feared she knew. And they were right to fear because there's a whole universe of folk who are gonna know it, too. They're gonna see it. Somebody has to speak for these people. You all got on this boat for different reasons, but you all come to the same place. So now I'm asking more of you than I have before. Maybe all. Sure as I know anything I know this, they will try again. Maybe on another world, maybe on this very ground swept clean. A year from now, 10, they'll swing back to the belief that they can make people . . . better. And I do not hold to that. So no more running. I aim to misbehave." ~ Captain Malcom Reynolds

Monday, June 23, 2014


Not for the first time, I've been asked why I don't do more gear reviews or such on the blog. There's a couple of reasons for this:

- As Tam and others have noted, once you start reviewing stuff (particularly when it's provided for you) then there is a tendency to flavor your work towards the provider - take the King's coin, do the King's bidding as it were. There are enough magazines, websites and other professionals that can handle that, so no need for me to throw my 1/2 cent in.

- Gear is constantly evolving, and what was yesterday's cutting edge is tomorrow's antique. With few exceptions the things I coveted or used ten years ago aren't even in my inventory anymore, much less the "go-to" item.

- I buy things based upon my needs, mission profile and skill set. I work in a specialized field in law enforcement, and what I expect and need my equipment to do is different than what a guy in Afghanistan, or a citizen carrying concealed on the street in Dallas might need. So, what I may view as a "feature" in an item might be a liability to someone else, or what I might view as a critical issue might not even surface on someone else's radar.

- Tools in a toolbox. A lot of stuff at certain levels is interchangeable, particularly if you have trained well. You do train, right? So if you learn how to do whatever it is right with the basics, then you don't rely on your gear to carry you through - instead you use it to enhance or simplify things when the time comes. Elegance in the basics (a lesson I still need a lot of work on).

- A couple of the companies/brands I deal with are very low profile, and like it that way. Who am I to boost their presence if they don't want it?

So, rather than specific brands or items, I'll just take a few moments to discuss some things I think are vital in choices for gear, no matter what your end-use:

- Consistency and reliability. You should be able to know what the item will do from the first use to the last, and to expect the same level of performance throughout. If you can't trust it to do the job time to find a replacement.

- Durability. Within the limits of the item in question, it should last for a decent period. This is where the "buy once, cry once" theory comes into play - you're better off spending more for the best product you can afford, knowing it will last. Buying cheap usually leads to regrets and replacement.

- Company integrity. No matter what you buy, occasionally things fail. Or other issues develop. Companies that stand behind their products and take care of these issues are worth their weight in gold. Poor customer service will lose my business no matter what the level of quality you provide.

- Form follows function. As I get older, and (hopefully) wiser, I'm drawn less by the "this does and has everything" and more by the appreciation of a simple, elegant solution to a problem in a straightforward manner.

- While I'm not fully into the "ultralight/minimalist" camp of things, I've found frequently over the past few years that the products manufactured for the alpine/minimalist side do tend to be better constructed and thought out than the more mass-market versions.

So, those are my thoughts in general. Perhaps I might dabble more in discussing certain lines or product categories as a whole if there is interest, or I'll stick with what I know and be quiet. :D

Thursday, June 19, 2014

OPSEC, once more for the slow kids

While this is not a new trend, the acceleration over the past few years has been horrible.

Once upon a time, should a military unit associated with "covert" activities conduct a successful operation, no one knew - or if they did, it was attributed to a larger unit, or to the "military" as a whole.

As for the members, you quietly went your way, kept your mouth shut and maybe talked about things at work with people who were in the same places. A trophy or memento might go up in a team room, but certainly not with any big plaque or credit to things.

Because that was part of the job. And because it kept things easier for the next trip downrange, since the bad guys didn't know when, where or how the good guys worked.

But nowadays, heck, the helo engines aren't even cool before someone in D.C. is discussing the operation, who did what, naming units and players and the like.

Shut up people. You're putting people and families at risk. You're jeopardizing future operations. And you aren't accomplishing a single thing except looking dumb with your "look who I have working for me" crap.

Take a page from the British and the Israelis. And quit talking out of school.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Current Events

I asked a Vietnam era vet friend today if this is what guys felt like in April '75. His response was "Pretty much exactly the same."

The world's in a handbasket, and they have cut the rope. I can't decide whether to be frustrated or concerned anymore.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lessons Learned

Had a smile to myself today (in private) at one of the many lessons the military taught me which I still carry to this day. In that it is possible to use physical exertion to re-direct a wayward young boy back towards the right path in a way that involves no violence, abuse, belittling, or other adverse means - instead it just serves to bring some excess energy towards improving the body and the mind while explaining certain realities of life to a young man.

It's funny how some push-ups and calisthenics can be so much more effective than yelling or spanking or grounding ever would be.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Apparently I've been labeled again

So a momentary conversation tonight, which then drifted into certain TV shows and their roots etc. - the wife made this comment:

"Oh, if it didn't have just one season you're just not interested..."

It's not my fault I have better taste than the networks!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

For those having trouble keeping score

We just established that we'd gladly trade Darth Vader, the plans for the Death Star and a controlling interest in Mos Eisley for Porkins the fat X-wing pilot.

Things Normal People Don't Say

While doing some cleaning and sorting this morning:

"Now, why did I leave a smoke grenade in that bag again?"

Yes, we're a bit... different... around these parts.