Bravo zulu, Ol’ Remus



Today is the day Ol’ Remus at the Woodpile Report tapped out his pipe, grabbed a walking stick, knapsack full of potted meats and a fishing pole, and headed out of the cabin for the great Appalachian beyond. The Woodpile Report is no more, and it, and Ol’ Remus, will be missed.

I became aware of his online newsletter via Western Rifle Shooters Association about two years ago, and fell in love with it. As a Former Art Guy (FAG for short — apologies to Former Action Guys everywhere), the fact that he started the letter with painters of bygone and currently under appreciated eras and finished with black and white photographs of the humble greatness of what our country once was, were nice cultural touches, rare in the id-driven lickspittle of the Internet.

The shenanigans of Remus, Zeke, and Aby were always fun to read, as they reminded me of the conversations between the weathered men who congregate at dawn faithfully at the ice machines over coffee outside of the rural gas stations in my own town. These men are the unofficial mayors of the county and trade gossip, wisdom, and bad jokes liberally. They’d seen a few things in life and were well past the phase of getting emotional about anything, but were realistic about everything.

Remus’ commentary about the goings on in these United States was adroit, prescient, and entertaining. His list of sources and links expanded my knowledge base permanently. His style was genteel, honest, and direct. I eagerly awaited Monday mornings for Ol’ Remus’ latest insights and would find the thirty minutes I gave myself to read the Woodpile Report and associated links often extending to an hour or two. I’m still trying to wrap my head around Quantum Mechanics, though.

Ol’ Remus, wherever you are and wherever you go, good luck, good health, and good times to you, sir. Your insight will be missed, but your desire to leave the Internet to eat itself is certainly understandable. I hope you find productive days trotline fishing an Appalachian creek from a houseboat somewhere with a coal-fired stove and all the finest pipe tobacco a man can enjoy. Thanks for the great newsletter and good luck to you in your new endeavors.

Bravo zulu, sir.


Happy Veterans’ Day. Reposting Mike Royko’s tribute to veterans – best ever


I just phoned six friends and asked them what they will be doing on Monday.

They all said the same thing: working.

Me, too.

There is something else we share. We are all military veterans.

And there is a third thing we have in common. We are not employees of the federal government, state government, county government, municipal government, the Postal Service, the courts, banks, or S & Ls, and we don’t teach school.

If we did, we would be among the many millions of people who will spend Monday goofing off.

Which is why it is about time Congress revised the ridiculous terms of Veterans Day as a national holiday.

The purpose of Veterans Day is to honor all veterans.

So how does this country honor them?

By letting the veterans, the majority of whom work in the private sector, spend the day at their jobs so they can pay taxes that permit millions of non-veterans to get paid for doing nothing.

As my friend Harry put it:

“First I went through basic training. Then infantry school. Then I got on a crowded, stinking troop ship that took 23 days to get from San Francisco to Japan. We went through a storm that had 90 percent of the guys on the ship throwing up for a week.

“Then I rode a beat-up transport plane from Japan to Korea, and it almost went down in the drink. I think the pilot was drunk.

“When I got to Korea, I was lucky. The war ended seven months after I got there, and I didn’t kill anybody and nobody killed me.

“But it was still a miserable experience. Then when my tour was over, I got on another troop ship and it took 21 stinking days to cross the Pacific.
“When I got home on leave, one of the older guys at the neighborhood bar he was a World War II vet told me I was a —-head because we didn’t win, we only got a tie.

“So now on Veterans Day I get up in the morning and go down to the office and work.

“You know what my nephew does? He sleeps in. That’s because he works for the state.

“And do you know what he did during the Vietnam War? He ducked the draft by getting a job teaching at an inner-city school.

“Now, is that a raw deal or what?”

Of course that’s a raw deal. So I propose that the members of Congress revise Veterans Day to provide the following:

– All veterans and only veterans should have the day off from work. It doesn’t matter if they were combat heroes or stateside clerk-typists.
Anybody who went through basic training and was awakened before dawn by a red-neck drill sergeant who bellowed: “Drop your whatsis and grab your socks and fall out on the road,” is entitled.

– Those veterans who wish to march in parades, make speeches or listen to speeches can do so. But for those who don’t, all local gambling laws should be suspended for the day to permit vets to gather in taverns, pull a couple of tables together and spend the day playing poker, blackjack, craps, drinking and telling lewd lies about lewd experiences with lewd women. All bar prices should be rolled back to enlisted mens’ club prices, Officers can pay the going rate, the stiffs.

– All anti-smoking laws will be suspended for Veterans Day. The same hold for all misdemeanor laws pertaining to disorderly conduct, non-felonious brawling, leering, gawking and any other gross and disgusting public behavior that does not harm another individual.

– It will be a treasonable offense for any spouse or live-in girlfriend (or boyfriend, if it applies) to utter the dreaded words: “What time will you be home tonight?”

– Anyone caught posing as a veteran will be required to eat a triple portion of chipped beef on toast, with Spam on the side, and spend the day watching a chaplain present a color-slide presentation on the horrors of VD.

– Regardless of how high his office, no politician who had the opportunity to serve in the military, but didn’t, will be allowed to make a patriotic speech, appear on TV, or poke his nose out of his office for the entire day.

Any politician who defies this ban will be required to spend 12 hours wearing headphones and listening to tapes of President Clinton explaining his deferments.

Now, deal the cards and pass the tequila.

– Mike Royko

Mike Royko

Mike Royko

When did drinking beer become pretentious?


OK, so I am in the middle of a cross-country road trip on my way out west to continue to minister to a stricken family member. On the way I stop in Oklahoma City to rest and recreate.

After checking into the hotel, I took a walk around an obvious economic development zone called “Bricktown” that is a mix of old brick warehouses redeveloped into new things, copycat new architecture full of more new things, and a minor league baseball stadium. The fracking business is yielding dividends, I guess. Fair enough.

In any case, eleven hours of driving makes a guy tired, red-eyed, and a little thirsty, and I wanted a cold beer or eight to take the edge off.

Seeing an original brick building with signs for Guinness, Bass, and Harp on the outside that make us call it “Ye Olde Pub” got me excited. I eagerly walked up the steps, opened the door and was pleased with the large and lively crowd inside, and this place was big.

Now this is where visions diverge. There looked to be a couple hundreds taps on a wall pouring quite an array of beers. As I scanned the room, nary a person had a pint in front of him, but a smattering of small glasses of beer, in what looked like brandy snifters, known as a “flight of beer” in front of him.

I was expecting to be able to walk into the joint and say “a pint of the black stuff governor,” or “a half and half, please sir,” or “make it a black and tan, senator,” and have something really tasty in front of my face pronto. That was not to be.


The bar was full of dudes with beards, skinny arms, and scarfs, and I overheard one of them hissing to his mates about one of his eight brandy snifters full of black goo, “The amount of malt in this one is criminal. Ugh. I shouldn’t EVEN have to pay for it.”

I’m pretty sure I had the look like someone had just farted in my face as I locked onto this dude. I think he felt the burn of my eyes because he looked up at me, took a pull off another snifter and swished his back to my face. At this point, I snapped out of it and turned my attention to the barkeeps, as I was still thirsty and dry.

Behind the bar were three, mid-twenties brunettes that were in shape and quite pleasant on the eyes. They were all curt, grumpy, and frenzied as they buzzed from tap to tap like hummingbirds, filling all of these little glasses with squirts to eight different kinds of specialty beers for Beardy McSpaghettiarms and his bar full of clones. This whole setup was obviously frustrating to them, as it was irritating to me, since I couldn’t get their attention to just pour a straight pint.


Not amused.

Now, in my past experience, when a dude wanted to try out a different beer, he manned up, ordered the pint, decided he liked it or didn’t in the first couple of sips, and would, (a) down it fast so he could get another one, or, (b) give it to his buddy, who would drink it while promising to get the next round. I found the experimental beer nights had a way of enhancing the evening’s effects quite nicely.

Nonetheless, I realized I was looking at an ode to the great prosperity of these United States, where things are so good that hot women pour lady-sized portions of 200 different crafty beers into cute glasses for bitchy men, and at the same time it was a marker for just how fucking annoying we have become as a culture.

Last Dive Bar

Ivy Mike style

After 20 minutes of being ignored by the courageous but overworked staff and overhearing about the “fruit tones” in various beers from the Van Dyke and scarf crowd, I took off and found a half-empty bar that had standard beers on six taps. I asked for a Mexican boilermaker (100% agave tequila shot and a can of cheap, messican beer), and flirted with the barmaid, who had time to flirt back, as it should be. I shot the shit with an ex minor league pitcher who blew out his right arm early in his career and his giggly, young lady cohort. I had a couple of rounds, a few laughs, and turned in for the night. It was nice to get back to place where the watering hole was less about the water and more about the people and the experience. Oh yeah, and my beer tasted like…beer.

Election Day fight for freedom music

Circle Jerks, “Coup d’etat.” Nice. :)


Coup D’Etat, Coup D’Etat
Coup D’Etat
Coup D’Etat
Coup D’Etat
The government can’t stop a throng
Struck strong,
Let us through.
New comes in.
Coup D’Etat
Give me a bomb.
A Malatov.
It’s a Coup D’Etat!
General Dictator gives the Law.
Get outta line,
Next neck on the block.
Armys marching through the streets.
Next run out the suffering.
Coup D’Etat
A Push from the left
And a shout from the right.
All come out,
Let’s do it tonight.
Take the President and His wife,
Deliver the ransom
Or we take their lives.
Trash their embassy.
They are our enemies!!!
The president just smokes cigars,
Anyone he does not like,
He shoots or puts behind bars.
Coup D’Etat!
Kill all…



Yep, that’s how I feel. Soiled.

Yeah, I voted. In the North Carolina elections. It is the most depressing election I have ever voted in. The senate race is is nothing more than swapping out one mafia family for another. The only measurable difference between the two is that one thinks it’s going to take away my guns through illegal legislation, and the other won’t actively campaign to do it but will cravenly collapse to a withering attack from shrieking harpies who will go on the warpath after another one of their feminized, imbalanced sons shoots up a school.  The rest of it is a tawdry mess of people who are running for office to find new ways to seize, steal, and spend their neighbors’ money and twist down the thumbscrews of the state on people they don’t like.

I voted to take senate control away from the DNC. That’s it. I didn’t vote “for” anything or anyone, because nobody ran a platform that had anything in it that I stand for.

The outcome of this election will see the following:

  • The debt as GDP economy will continue unabated, bubbles will continue, and the middle class will continue to be eaten alive
  • The police state will continue to grow and there will still be zero accountability for officers who abused their authority
  • There will be no civil asset forfeiture reform
  • The surveillance state will continue to grow
  • The wars on drugs and terror will continue and the dynamic of “guilty until proven innocent” will continue to be cemented into place by our judicial system
  • The DC-centered bureaucratic state will continue to grow, choking off small businesses and innovation everywhere
  • Third-world, illiterate, and easily manipulated illegal immigrants will get amnesty to please the left and the oligarchs
  • SuperPACs, K-Street, and Wall Street will continue to dictate policy to DC to impose on the country
  • Obamacare will go nowhere, because it doubles down on the failures of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, and concentrates more power in the bureaucratic state while enriching oligarchs
  • Peter will be robbed to bankruptcy to pay for Paul’s subsidies that are skimmed right back to the Super PACs
  • The left and media will continue to gin up racial and sexual animus to continue their fight to keep the population at each other’s throats
  • The population will continue down its path of civic ignorance, begging for centralized management from afar rather than self governance from within
  • The 2016 presidential election will be between two oligarch families who belong to the same organizations, run in the same social circles, have benefited handsomely from the current system, and will continue to drive the country into the ground


And the beat goes on.

Happy election day, everyone. Rah rah.



Getting some good (and funny) comments on the Appalachian Redoubt post thanks to Brother CA at WRSA giving me the front page treatment. As always, I am grateful for the highlight and humbled by the responses.

It seems like there is some interest in wool garments, so I thought I’d highlight a couple of purveyors of woolens. I have no financial interest in any of these places, but I just want to share info.

M1951 wool pants and shirts that are dirt cheap, but 50 years old and OG107 can be found at Army Surplus Warehouse for $20 and $16 each respectively plus shipping. These things are heavy, itchy, smell like mothballs, and are really, really, really warm. While you look like a pickle wearing them, you can buy five sets of them for the cost of a commercial set of wool pants and a shirt. If you do wear these together, for the love of God, DO NOT call yourself “Colonel” or use some kind of code name, like “Jellyroll.”

These surplus Italian wool blankets are heavy and do a bang up job of keeping you warm. They also stink of mothballs. Cheapest I found is $20 per. Buy these in bulk. I cut one in half and then cut a hole in the middle of the half and rocked a poncho, Man With No Name style. It makes you want to ask, “do you feel comfy, punk?” One of these is stashed in every vehicle in the family as part of their survival kits, as well.

Filson and Woolrich,  make some choice kit, but most of the semi-affordable stuff is made by Chinese laborers enriching PLA generals, and their US made stuff is damn near a mortgage payment, but it’s pretty solid. I recommend trolling eBay or your local thrift store for used items, as they are significantly cheaper, like 1/2 to 2/3 cheaper than retail.

Those are just a couple off the top of my head. If anyone has other finds, feel free to post ‘em in comments.

Friday punch a whiny, self-centered, possible-Ebola-vector-nurse-in-the-face music

Suicidal Tendencies, “Suicidal Failure.”

Fuck you Kaci Hickox. You are a disgrace to your profession. DO NO HARM. Remember? Asshole.


Father forgive me for I know not what I do
I tried everything but I’ll leave it up to you
I don’t want to live, I don’t know why
I don’t have no reasons, I just want to die
I’m a suicidal failure, I’ve got to get some help
I have suicidal tendencies but I can’t kill myself
I’m tired of this way of life, my patience has expried
I’m barely jsut 20 but my life I will retire
I went down to a rifle store, I bought myself a gun
I point it at my head but I couldn’t get the job done
I took all my mother’s sleeping pills
I jumped off a freeway bridge
I drank three kinds of poison
And drove my car off a ridge
I beat myself with a bat
Put a noose around my head
I overdosed on heroin
But I’m still not dead
Death may not be the answer
It can’t be all that great
But me I’m not into living
With life I can’t relate
By some masochistic reasoning I think that it will be fun
I want to start my second life now
So shoot me with your gun
I’m looking forward-suicidal
I’m really bored-suicidal
You wanna die-suicidal
Then die-suicidal
At the game-suicidal
At my school-suicidal
At the bar-suicidal

A foray into the Appalachian redoubt and some lessons learned

I spent some time backpacking in the Appalachian Redoubt last week. It was a remote area well off the AT in peak Black Bear country, with barely maintained trails full of Rhododendron that criss-crossed boulder-filled waterways that ranged from ankle to chest deep.


The players were all experienced outdoorsmen, with individual specialties in tracking, land navigation, medical, ropes / rigging, radios, killing it and grilling it. The purpose was recreation and some skill development, especially in the land navigation department.

Weather was beyond excellent. No rain, cold nights (~33F), warm days (~70F), but HUMID near the rivers, streams, and creeks, Especially at night.

Smartphones and iPads were left behind, but topo maps, compasses, and headlamps were packed in. Hunting was not on the itinerary, so we packed in our chow.

This group gets together ad-hoc throughout the year, with aggressive day hikes with rucks in local mountains and the occasional multi-day excursion into the Redoubt when lives and schedules align. To that end, the “forming-storming-norming-performing” cycle is repeated every time, since we have to get used to each other again. The crew used a USGS topo map and a Forest Service  topo map with trails marked to navigate. We agreed on the route for the trip at the trail head and took off.

We had a great trip, but it was amazing what kind of little dumb things happen during a simple trip that remind you that chaos is always the guy behind you on the trail and will catch up to you if you don’t use your heads. The following are some lessons that I found worth sharing, from the mundane to the life-threatening.

High humidity makes cold worse

I chose to pack light, so I froze at night. I overestimated capabilities of 40F sleeping bag inside a Gore-Tex bivvy sack for warmth and packed no thermal underwear, just a pair of nylon hiking pants. I was still in a tent and on a sleeping pad, but holy smokes, did I get cold. Early in the evenings, the dew point would be reached and you could feel that wet in the air. It was so wet, when you’d get out of your tent in the AM, it looked like it had rained all night. I digress. I foolishly stripped down to my skivvies on the first night and crawled into my bag. I fell asleep quickly in warm comfort, only to awaken three hours later shaking like a jackhammer from the cold. The inside of my rainfly was soaked and I could feel the cold, wet air pushing through the fabrics onto my skin. I quickly donned pants, a t-shirt, a polypro fleece, a wool overshirt, and a toboggan and jumped back in the bag, but it took forever to get warmed back up. I let the cold get ahead of me and it took damn near all night to get back on top of it. The next night course corrections were made. I slept in pants, toboggan, t-shirt, and fleece, and my buddy had a spare mylar emergency blanket that I laid on top of my air mattress OUTSIDE of my sleeping bag. Putting it inside of my bag would have made me sweat, and we all know that sweating in the cold is a great way to kill yourself. Hot water in a Nalgene bottle or two stuffed at your femoral arteries on your groin are a remedy as well, but I didn’t need to go that far with the course corrections I made.

See this? It’s cold and wants to kill you.

Lessons learned: (a) If the terrain is called a “rain forest,” believe it and know it’s going to be wet, (b) fill your pack, break your back, stay warm in the sack, (c) if you are shivering all night, you ain’t sleeping.

Wool is better than polypropylene for moisture-wicking garments

Polypro is awesome technology that I commend the Italian and German chemists for synthesizing. Its uses seem limitless and there are many, many things that I am grateful for lightness and strength. Clothing, however, is not one of them.

These polypro underwear are really warm!

At its base (apology to all the chemists and engineers, corrections taken as needed) is a molecular chain that looks something like this with variations:


Then there’s this…


…which is the formula for the simplest hydrocarbon, methane.

With polypro — warm, hydrophobic, and light as it is, you are wearing a woven hydrocarbon, and when an ember from the fire lands on your arms and your polypro fleece becomes grafted to your skin, you see the benefit of good, old-fashioned wool, itchy as it is.

Lessons learned: (a) Life is imperfect and wool is expensive, but if you can get a non-flammable layer between your skin and your polypro, or, (b) wear a non-flammable layer over your polypro to slow its ignition, do it.

Force fiber and force water

Ahh, trail food. Who doesn’t love a bag full of Mountain House or an ever delicious Meal Refusing to Exit? In addition to appalling amounts of salt, saturated fats, carbs, and cholesterols, these calorie-dense gifts to the outdoorsman lack fiber on a grand scale. To that end, in the absence of fresh and dried fruits and veggies, you might think about packing in psyllium seed husks (aka Metamucil) and / or chia seeds to help keep things moving along the inner trail as well. Both of these supplements are fiber dense and light, with a major nutritional edge given to chia seeds, which “[o]ne ounce (about 2 tablespoons) contains 139 calories, 4 grams of protein, 9 grams fat, 12 grams carbohydrates and 11 grams of fiber, plus vitamins and minerals.” Some people are making miracle claims about the chia, I just think of it as fiber with vitamins and minerals, and nothing else. In any case, you can pour a tablespoon or two of either of these into whatever pouch of goo you are eating to help keep you from blocking up.

To that end, the additional fiber means you need to drink more water. Every day was started with everyone forcing at least one liter and ended the same way. We all monitored urine color as the measure for hydration status and took it pretty seriously. Keep in mind that if you’re sweating profusely (or shitting your brains out because you didn’t purify your water), you may need to add some powdered Gatorade, salt or, the Ebola-fashionable Oral Rehydration Solution to your water to avoid electrolyte imbalances, which can kill you pretty dead.

Lessons learned: (a) Be good to your intestines, and they will be good to you, (b) both psyllium seed husks and chia seeds are worth the weight penalty of packing them in (c) if you think you’ve had enough water, drink another liter, because when you are moving you are sweating more than you think, (d) having a filter pump prevents you from having to carry around multiple liters of water in your pack.

Moist towelettes > toilet paper

This one is so simple I don’t really need to explain it. Lesson learned: Morale enhancing greatness. You understand why dogs run around like idiots after unloading.

If you’re crossing water, you’re going in, and Gore-Tex works both ways

The water crossings we encountered had lots of currents, unstable rocks, boulders, algae, and other things that added to the fun. Couple that with a 60-80lb ruck on your back enhancing your top-heaviness, and everyone became a member of the Cold, Wet Underwear Club. Everyone had their gear that needed to be dry in waterproof bags inside their rucks, so that was some good planning across the board. One guy had trekking poles, which helped. Occasionally, someone would find a straight tree branch and use it as a trekking pole / third point of contact with the wet, algae-coverd river boulders, until it broke, and it always broke. Sploosh.

Gore-Tex boots were common, and Gore-Tex works both ways if your foot goes in deep enough that the water crests the top of your boot and pours into it. There are no drains in the boots and that water just wants to stay there, so once you have wet feet, they are going to stay that way until you correct the situation.

The smart way to do it. Just get wet.

To that end, once you went in the drink the first time, the rest were free, and you could just slosh through the crossings with aplomb. We’d pick lines so that the water was no deeper than our thighs and that worked fine.

A pair of Crocs at the campsite allowed you to air out your boots and socks, and avoid nasty things from happening to your feet. You have damp boots the next day, but fresh socks mitigated them somewhat. For me, Thorlo Anti-Fatigue and Carhartt Merino Wool were best.

Nylon pants are great, and they dry out really fast. Within an hour of a good dunk, they were dry.

Jungle boots. Yeah.

Lessons learned: (a) If you are crossing water, you will get wet, so plan accordingly, (b) if temperatures and terrain preclude getting wet, then change your route away from water crossings or learn how to build a rope bridge, (c) consider hot weather or jungle boots with drains if you know you will be crossing water, (d) Mr. Murphy is in charge at every stream and river crossing, (e) you can never have too many pairs of good socks.

Do something stupid, like assume

On the day we were going to tear ass around our location with just daypacks, we made a classic error. We got deep out on the first trail and lost it. Mind you, these trails are barely maintained. Blazes were very, very rare. Rhododendron grew think everywhere and obscured views in all directions. Therefore, we needed to bust out our land nav chops.

“OK, who has a compass?”

“I thought you brought one.”

“I did, but I left it at base camp because I figured everyone else brought theirs” x 5.

Cool. We at least had the topo map with trails marked on it, but were going to get more basic in our orienteering.

This was the fun part where the group dynamics played in. To say that four of the five liked to be in charge is an understatement. For the first couple of hours, there was a squabble about where we were and where we needed to go. We’d be two minutes into a direction and the Good Idea Fairy would show up to persuade us to do something different. At that point, we became Circle Jerking Through Appalachia, the reality TV show. Time was being wasted and we realized we were far from camp and pretty well lost. Egos were parked and we’d consult the map, study the topo lines, assess trees and rocks to determine North and cross check it with the position of the sun in the South. If we were in disagreement, a scouting party of two would set out and the rest of the group would stay put and make fart jokes. We either got a shout from the scouts to continue on or they’d come back and we’d reassess. Before we knew it, we developed a great rhythm and got our heads aligned. Forming-storming-norming-performing all within the space of a couple of hours. Fortunately we knew each other and could insult each other without taking it personally.

Lessons learned: (a) chaos is always there, waiting for you to become stupid, (b) egos kill, (c) Romper Room-level inclusion for inclusion’s sake kills too, (d) know the balance between the two and draw on the experience of the members of the team to guide you by focusing on the desired end result, which in this case, was wiring together our heads and asses and getting back to camp.

Know your knots

You don’t have to be Joe Rigger, but here are the basic knots we used routinely throughout the trip to secure loads, bear bags, clotheslines, etc. These are just basics and by no means comprehensive. These are easy to learn and really open up possibilities when you are presented with a challenge requiring ropes.


Bowline on a bight

Figure 8

Taut-line hitch

Double fisherman’s

You are lifting, right?

Months of weightlifting with lots of squats and deadlifts had a noticeable effect on my hiking and endurance. Less pain, faster recovery times, more energy. I mean VERY noticeable. My back still hurt when we finished the trip, but it was way less pain than before, and it went away by the next day. My usual recovery time was about a week.

Lesson learned: Make sure you are doing your PT, and make sure you are strengthening your core. It makes a huge difference. Huge.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.