Once again we see the total stupidity of Safe/Gun Free Zones.

The Administration at University of Texas, and their snowflake professors have been some of the most vocal critics of the pending Campus Concealed Carry bill passed in Texas.
Here are three prime examples of why lawful concealed carry is not the problem:

Gun Free Zone – “Safe” Place
“Harrison Brown, a freshman at the university, was one of four people stabbed by the suspect — Kendrex J. White — who “calmly walked around” campus with a “bowie-style” hunting knife and randomly stabbed other students, police and witnesses said.

The three others were injured in the attack.” ~ KTLA.com
CHL Friendly – Safer Place
“Two people are dead, including the suspect, after gunfire erupted at a North Texas sports bar.
The shooting happened shortly after 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Zona Caliente sports bar in southern Arlington.

Police Lt. Christopher Cook says the shooter entered the restaurant, got into an argument with an employee and shot and killed the worker. A customer who was armed with a licensed concealed handgun confronted the gunman and shot him dead.” ~ ABC News.go.com


The press keeps pushing the narrative that Kendrex White at UT had mental issues.
So what? We’re supposed to stand around an hope he doesn’t come after the rest of us?
My mother didn’t raise a child so stupid as that.

The punk in the bar?
It could have been a personal thing just between him and the bar manager, right?
Maybe he had mental issues too.
Who cares?
How would the bar patrons know?
Were they supposed to cower on the floor like those folks at Luby’s in Killeen did back before Texas had CHL laws?
Then there’s the murder suicide at Northlake College in Irving, Texas.
Another case where a Gun Free Zone failed to stop a horrible crime.
Would a person with a concealed weapon have made a difference? By all witness accounts, no. The murder was done and over with too quickly for anyone to react.

Let’s Try To Be Rational About This…

A person with a concealed weapon is NOT the panacea for every situation.
Concealed weapons give a person options. Sometimes the best option is to run away, or hide, or fight.

Isn’t that the mantra now days? Run – Hide – Fight?

If the best choice in a bad situation is to fight, it is certainly nice to have the tools that give you the best chance of coming out on top.


Is This Trip Really Necessary?

During WWII propaganda posters like this appeared all over the UK and America encouraging people to limit their personal travel to free up resources for the war effort.


Lately, several new reason have appeared that encourage folks to address the question “Is my trip really necessary?”

The puppet theatre known as the TSA failed to detect mock weapons and explosives 95% of the time in 2016, so the answer is obvious. Fire the director, and introduce “enhanced” patdown procedures for the agents.


Is this “enhancement” likely to make any difference to passenger safety? No, because it is all baloney.

I especially loved the quote from the LATimes.com article:

““The UPD [universal pat-down] lessens the cognitive burden for our officers…”

Translation: We would not want the people charged with maintaining security to actually have to THINK about how they do their jobs.

And there was some question about why they failed to detect bombs and weapons 95% of the time? Are these fine upstanding agents of the almighty State smart enough to read, much less reason based on objective evidence?

The only truly effective airport security is practiced by the Israeli airline, El Al. Of course we absolutely CAN’T employ their methods in the US because they intentionally PROFILE people, and select people those that meet certain criteria known to be related to terrorism for an additional chat.

In Western Europe and Turkey, the bad actors just moved their violence to the unsecured part of the airports. Maybe not quite as dramatic as crashing a plane, but just as many potential victims close by.

Then we get to the main beneficiaries of this sham, the airlines, and they are just as arrogant and abusive as the STASI guarding the doors.

A gent by the name of Dr. Dao has been all over the news lately after United Airlines had him dragged from their aircraft.

Now, we have an American flight attendant who was not having the best day according to the flight attendants’ union, violently acting on his arbitrary decision to move a stroller from an overhead bin to be checked with the regular luggage. In the process of his little attitude spasm, he “accidentally” hits the woman who owns the stroller in the head while she is holding two infants. When another passenger calls him on his poor behavior, the flight attendant puffs out his chest and challenges the passenger to a fight. As much as this asswipe deserved a vigorous slap across the windpipe, the only person who would be punished was the passenger who stood up for the lady.

I’ll give American Airlines credit. They stepped up to address the incident, and apologize immediately, but this should never have happened. United fiddle-farted around for a week, initially blaming the passenger, then realizing this was a PR nuke, they caved and admitted to being violent jerks.

Airlines and their supporting structures have lost sight of the fact that the American public are customers. We have rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, and we have choices where we spend our money, so I suggest we starve the beast. If the airlines go down, so does the TSA, and many of the other useless intrusions into our lives.

Business can be conducted 24/7 from anywhere on the planet. Why are we still sending anyone anywhere? Other than pleasure travel, I just do not see the need that justifies the expense. If I want to travel for pleasure and to relive stress, air travel just flat doesn’t make the cut.

America has plenty of National Parks, State Parks, and other places to go on vacation. Sure, it may require a road trip to get there, but is a road trip any more burdensome than losing an entire day to:

  • Being groped and having your children made subjects of State sponsored child porn
  • Sitting cramped in poor seats
  • Overcharged for EVERYTHING
  • Being fed something that you can’t quite identify
  • Still be at risk of being bumped from your flight because the airline INTENTIONALLY sells too many tickets, or can’t get their personnel where they need to be on time?

Then you get to look forward to going through this crap-cycle again on the way home.

If I drive, I can stop and stretch when I need to. Eat food I actually want to eat, instead of something mysterious from a box. Make a detour because I happen to be passing the largest ball of twine in the world. Best of all, once I factor in the cost of airport parking, taxis, and time lost sitting in airports, driving is actually cheaper.

Airlines whine that they can’t make money with all of the union salary packages. The pilots and flight attendants make the same noise.

Screw ‘em! Let them starve until they understand that WE THE PEOPLE are paying their salaries, and they remember what it means to behave like reasonable, responsible, adults.

Let’s ask ourselves the reasonable question: “Is this trip really necessary?” If the answer is “yes”, then let’s get there without flying, and take back a bit of our dignity and freedom.

Google Hire – Bigotry Industrialized?

Came across a rather interesting article care of News.com.au:

“Fears Google Hire could allow employers to see your entire search history

THE tech giant is working on a job site called Google Hire, which could let prospective employers snoop your embarrassing search history.”


Beyond the obvious Big Brother implications of this service offering from our dear friend Alphabet/Google, I see 50+ years of Civil Rights and anti-discrimination legislation vanishing in a puff of logic.

No recruiter is going to sit and sift through hundreds of thousands of search terms, so the next step is the creation of filters that will only pass through job candidates that meet the designated parameters of race, religion, gender, orientation, opinion, spending habits, on and on ad nauseum. Anything and everything having nothing to do with the candidate’s ability to perform the work the company is hiring for.

And this filtration process will be next to impossible to litigate because something as simple as the number of times a person searched for the word “cancer” could be used as a filter parameter. Is the person worried about disease, or their horoscope? It won’t matter because that resume will never be presented to the recruiter.

How does one prove bias against this in court?

It would take some pretty resourceful attorneys to detect such a subtle bias pattern, and then Company X lays the blame on Alphabet/Google because it is Google’s system. “Obviously THEIR algorithm is flawed because WE would NEVER discriminate.”

You going to sue Alphabet?

A better investment would be Lotto tickets.

Welcome to the brave new algorithm.

TRIGGER ALERT!! …Lessons of the Past

I happened to turn on Russian TV one afternoon, and the news was playing a story that will probably cause enough people in America to drop dead in shock that an invasion of either coast would meet no resistance. Zero, zippo, nada. Just dead bodies in windrows.
As odd as it may sound to Americans, Russians have an immediate and visceral memory of WWII. A huge proportion of their films and TV series are set against the backdrop of that conflict. Yes, even stuff made after 2015. That history is VERY personal to them.
The news item was all of 30 seconds, and I had to capture it on my iPhone and take screenshots from that. Apologies for the image quality.

Absolutely ZERO apologies to anyone who may be offended, upset, stressed, or otherwise distressed by the following images.

When I was a kid, this kind of thing was still considered “normal”, and we had many such presentations in school. In Amerika this would have resulted in jail time for every adult present, and clearly shows how far we have descended as a society.

It also explains why Russians do not give a rat’s behind about anything Amerika does or says.

These two gents are military re-enactors dressed as German soldiers of the WWII period. They are visiting a Russian Kindergarten class. 


The first thing they do is set a German machinegun on the floor.  OMG! Gasp! The Horror!


Cool! Show & Tell!


Learning about the dangers of fireworks


Yes, that is a German “potato masher” hand grenade, and a future headbanger fan on the right.

(Note the nice lady calmly sitting in the background holding a child on her lap.)

Now an early version of a (Gasp!) Assault Rifle


And weapon handling


It should be noted that the class ended with the same number of happy and healthy children as it started with.


How could that possibly happen?!

It happens because no PERSON in that room had any DESIRE to harm anyone else.

Something to think about, assuming rational thought is still a thing.




“All Guns Are Always Loaded” – Again

I hate returning to topics over and over, but in this case I refuse to apologize because the top of safe firearms management is just too critical.

In “All Guns Are Always Loaded” I presented a case where carelessness at an Old West Gunfight show nearly caused a tragedy, and I presented the following:

MM – Standard procedure for most Police departments conducting training exercises involving firearms require EVERY participant to inspect EVERY gun prior to the start of training.
Most cases of accidental shootings during training are a result of this practice not being followed, and the results are usually tragic. 

The foregoing statement was based on my own training, and much of the training materials I have studied since. In the initial article I presented this case to make my point:

Officer Killed in Arlington Texas

Now we have another case that illustrates the very same point:

Civilian Killed Accidentally in Police Training

I agree with   on his position “This is the consequence of hiring cops who aren’t “gun people.”

When my academy class was preparing for firearms qualification, one cadet appeared for weapon inspection carrying a brand new S&W 9mm that had been purchased on the way to the meeting. When we got to the range the following day, this cadet stepped to the line with 12 other cadets. The drill was simple. Place 2 shots in the chest area of a human silhouette target at a range of 1 yard from low ready. (That’s pistol pointed at the ground in front of the shooter at an angle of approximately 45 degrees.)

Yep, 3 whole feet.

The cadet in question closed her eyes and fired. The first round went into the railroad tie that made up the lower part of the backstop beneath the target. The second round was fired after she jerked her arms to approximately 45 degrees above horizontal sending the bullet over the target, the berm behind the target, and probably over the length of the Elm Fork Country Club gold course that backed up to the shooting range.

At this point she opened her eyes and turned to her right, “Did I hit it?” Yes, she swept the entire line of shooters with her muzzle in the process. Fortunately the instructors arrived almost immediately, disarmed her, and escorted her politely off the range while “politely” suggesting she look into another profession.

I never made it into law enforcement, but I hold a CHL, I am a hobbyist, author, and I work in a business that deals in firearms. I come into contact with guns every day. Everyone who handles firearms in a professional capacity (“professional” meaning someone paid to to do this) MUST, MUST, MUST educate themselves on the tools of the trade.

Lives depend on our skill, care, and knowledge. Please get the best training you can afford. Invest in yourself, it may save a life.





By Michael Morgan

© 2016 All Rights Reserved


Dim red glow flickers into blinding moonlight.

Black hand rising into squinted view. No, not black. Soot stained, mottled with bits of pale skin. Crusted with dark flakes that fall away to expose more pale skin as the hand flexes. The hand pushes against the ground, and the view tumbles to one side.

Fireflies in the distance, and singing? Yes, singing. Negro voices. The songs of home. Sounds of metal tools on earth. The vision goes indistinct for a moment as blackness edges the scene. Burial parties? Yes, that must be it.

An unseen hand fumbles free of unseen tangles, and sends shrieking pain through its shoulder as the scene is levered off the trampled grass to settle like a painting hung just a bit off kilter. The unseen hand touches the unseeing eye, but feels nothing through the numb digits.

The pale blob to the left attracts the eye, resolving itself into a familiar C- shaped scar that Micah had carried on his forehead since they were six year old. Was it really Micah? Hard to tell. Only the scar, one blue eye, and a ruined face.

Other names called other friends into view. Ollie and Jack. Side by side as always. Lying tangled, blouses torn open probing for the wounds that killed them.

Where was Brother? He should be here. Somewhere.

Crawling along the line. Sharp steel gouging the knees and hands as they passed over. Tangled men. Face up, face down, curled fetal. A canteen. Scant drops of water falling from the ragged hole instead of the spout.

Faces past. Mr. Barnes, the owner of the dry goods store, had a soft spot for the school teacher. Andrew’s leg was missing. Calhoun, Fredericks, Hoff, Johnson. Men he’d known all of his life. Brother wasn’t here. He should be. Everyone else was.

Susurrations from the back of his mind became moans and faint pleas for water, mothers, and sweethearts as the field crawled to life with the agonies of the damned.

The stained hand reached out to roll a ragdoll to its back. A gurgling exhalation from a face stained black across the right cheek. The doll’s eyes searched and settled on the face above.

“Hello Brother.”

“I… did not expect to… see you again.” Death rattled closer.

“I’ll get help.”


“Can I do anything?”

“Tell Mother…”

“Tell Mother what?”

A cough. Cracked lips coated crimson so bright the color was visible in the moonlight.

The stained hand reaches to touch Brother’s shoulder but the blue sleeve refused to touch butternut vestments. The gulf between the colors could not be closed by force of will or even by common blood.

The grass rose up to cushion the fall.

“Pahdun me Lootenun,” the freedman’s voice called reality back into focus. Clouds obscured the moon, and a dark face in the dark continued, “Y’all need a stretcha?”

A pathetic attempt at a gesture reminded him of the wounded arm, “No, but my brother does,”

“I’m sorry Mars Lootenun, if thas yo’ brotha, he past help. We here to take care o’ these boys.” More figures in the gloom. The sound of a shovel biting into the turf.


Warm hands raised the Lieutenant. Wobbly legs turned to erratic steps along the windrow of his life.

A town on the march to Atlanta. Like the one he left on the way to West Point.

Just old men, little kids, and women trying to keep life going. A pinned sleeve or leaning crutch belonging to the ones lucky to return. Reminders of those who never would.


Sweethearts, sisters, and wives swarming the board where the lists of the wounded and slain were posted each morning. Begging God not to give them any news.

Here, in this place, looking over the field, reciting the census of his town. Knowing home is gone.


Tell Mother…

What to say?


Brother died in my arms…?


What did he die for?

Brother died defending his home so he could live as a free man.


Brother died, and I lead the men who killed him.

It was my duty…

Mother’s voice stole his thoughts…You followed a tyrant who would enslave all men while waving the banner of Emancipation!

Dragging foot stumbles on something. The dead weight of an arm attached to a cocked revolver, pointing the way home.


Author’s Note:

The War of Southern Independence has long held a fascination for me because the causes of that conflict, and the consequences of its outcome, have shaped the national identity and dialog in the United States far more than any other war before or since.

The regional differences and social conflicts of the war were never resolved, and we are seeing these forces again in the rising tide of violence perpetrated by the political factions of today. The irony lies in the labels. If one side is composed of “sore losers” and the other of “deplorables” who is left to cheer for?

I recently finished this book:

Still the Arena of Civil War: Violence and Turmoil in Reconstruction Texas, 1865-1874 by Kenneth W. Howell

The author is a archetypal Unionist, but I thought his work was fair. I found his description of the operations of the Democratic Party in cooperation with the Ku Klux Klan in Texas a bit…familiar.

“Brother” was written as an examination of a young man suddenly cast adrift, as so many young men were, during the aftermath of that conflict. With homes and families destroyed, or cast to the wind, these men drifted away. Mostly westward.

We read about these men as the heroes and villains of the Old West. Eventually, they picked up new lives, or found the self-destruction that gave them peace.

“All Guns Are Always Loaded”

The late Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper (USMC Ret.)reduced the rules of safe gun handling to 4 simple rules.

1. All guns are always loaded. Even if they are not, treat them as if they are.
2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
3. Keep your finger off the trigger till your sights are on the target.
4. Identify your target, and what is behind it.

Following these rules religiously would prevent almost every case of accidental shooting, period.

I saw the following news story, and it got under my skin because it involves clear violations of the 4 Rules and classic percussion revolvers.
The story presents some teachable moments, so here are some extracts along with my personal views on the topic.
A link to the full article is below.

An actor in a Wild West gunfight show loaded his percussion revolvers with live ammunition instead of the blanks normally used.
Three tourists watching the performance were wounded. Thank goodness none fatally.

“The handgun used in the show is a cap and ball blackpowder revolver. This type of handgun is somewhat cumbersome to reload. A measured amount of black powder is poured into each cylinder, and a lead round ball is then ramrodded down on top of the charge. To speed reloading, owners of this type of firearm often have additional cylinders. When all six rounds are fired, the entire cylinder is replaced with another preloaded with six rounds.”

MM – The practice of swapping cylinders on a percussion gun has been debated since 1835 when the Colt’s Paterson was sold to the Texas Rangers with two cylinders.
When things go right, it works just fine. when someone goofs, it can be bad.

This gent was one of the lucky ones.

The actor told police, “He had used the same revolver for target practice the day before the show, July 28, and had taken four loaded cylinders with him to Red Lake, firing only two.”
The actor “did not know how he mixed up the cylinders.”

MM – This seems like simple math skills in need of refreshment.
Part of being a responsible adult in possession of firearms, it is my obligation to keep control of my ammunition at all times.
“Gunfighters Show protocol called for participants to aim their guns at the ground rather than at the performer they are “targeting” when they fired. This practice might have been the difference between the relatively minor injuries described in the report, and potentially much more serious injuries, or even loss of life.”

MM – Seems in keeping with Rule 2, but a complete fail on Rule 4.
I have attended many Wild West re-enactments since I was a kid, and very few of them allowed the audience to surround the actors.
Even blanks throw some material out of the barrel that can cause injury several feet away.
Professional (ala Hollywood) actors and stuntpeople have been seriously injured by blanks. 
Rules 2 and 4 are absolutes.

The “manager of the Show, told officers that each performer was responsible for inspecting their firearms.” The actor said that “he did not inspect his gun, that he had used the same firearm for target practice the day before, and that he could not explain how live rounds got into his gun the evening of the show.”

MM – Standard procedure for most Police departments conducting training exercises involving firearms require EVERY participant to inspect EVERY gun prior to the start of training.
Most cases of accidental shootings during training are a result of this practice not being followed, and the results are usually tragic. 

Officer Killed in Arlington Texas

Actor Brandon Lee was killed on the set by a firearm.

“It’s common for shooters using cap and ball revolvers to smear grease over the cylinder after it is loaded. The grease prevents chain firing, which happens when the blast from the fired cylinder ignites black powder residue in adjoining cylinders, causing them to fire as well. The grease makes it difficult to easily determine whether a round is loaded with blanks or live rounds, however.”

Police “inspected all the firearms used in the show and determined that the shooter likely fired the “projectiles” during the performance. The inspection showed that one of the actor’s revolvers was loaded with a round ball in one of the cylinders. The other five cylinders were empty.”

MM – This is yet another reason I’ll add to my list of why I hate putting grease over the chambers of my revolvers. A simple probe using a toothpick or knife point would have revealed the presence of the lead bullets because blanks normally replace the bullet with a ball of paper or a disc of thin cardboard. I use lubed felt wads between the powder and bullet, and will always advocate for that practice.

You can get store bought wads at many outlets.

Or make your own much cheaper

The actor “now faces 5 misdemeanor counts of knowingly pointing a firearm in the direction of others.”

MM – In addition to the people hurt by this idiot’s carelessness, this person has committed an offense against every person who responsibly enjoys firearms.
Safety MUST be our top priority, always and forever.
Full Article: Investigation reveals details of gunfight show gone wrong by Rob Breeding at Cody Enterprise

My Kid’s Gotta Hurl – Medieval Grrrl Goes Ballistic!

The screaming Amazon that lives at my house walked into the living room recently and said, “Hey, uh, we have to build a catapult for the Latin Club contest in three weeks.”
Considering the Amazon’s wide range of interests, very little surprises me anymore, so I set down my book, and thus began the lessons on siege engines.

The rules of the game are pretty simple:

Small Enginges have to be less than 1 meter cubed and throw a projectile that approximates a baseball.
Large Engines must be less than 3 meters cubed and throw a projectile approximating a softball.
The engine cannot be anchored to the ground by anything but gravity.
The engine must be triggered from a distance.
The judges have final say on whether the engine is “safe”.

All pretty easy to understand, and wide open possibilities.
Fortunately a friend of mine received a miniature trebuchet as a Christmas present. After he built it he realized he did not have a suitable place in his home to display (or play with) it, so he brought it to the office.



As a “team building event” (aka nerds slackin’ off), several of us attempted to optimize the weights in the basket to see how far we could get it to throw.
The results were quite impressive. To the tune of 30′ or so.
Along the way, we “endangered” some furnishings, and surprised a couple of unwary folks who walked into the impact zone of the foam balls we were using as ammunition.
One handy thing we discovered was VirtualTrebuchet.com .

All of this mayhem reminded me of a long time favorite book called “Catapult: Harry & I Build a Siege Weapon”.


This lively philosophical tale by Jim Paul describes the adventures of a man who decides he wants to build a catapult. The project is financed by a local artist colony under the guise of “warrior art”, and Jim drags his friend Harry into the project. The immortal George Carlin would have described Harry as “One of those friends who’s good with tools.”
The story of the construction concludes with the heroes obtaining a permit from the California Parks Dept. to shoot their catapult from an abandoned shore defense battery overlooking the Pacific Ocean…on the condition that they do not use “real” rocks, but only “mock” rocks.
Gotta love the Californese for for being paragons of common sense.

With all of this handy background noise, we set to work, opting for the Small Engine category, and designing our engine of mayhem to just barely squeek its way into the 1 meter cube.
The Amazon is pretty handy with power tools in addition to being a fair hand with a saber, skean dhu, handgun, longbow, and other implements of personal expression.

amazon_fencing skeandhu

amazon1 cattle_pult

The first launch went OK. The tennis ball made about 30 yards.
Unfortunately the subsequent launches were not as spectacular.
Well, we’ve got one more weekend to work out the kinks before showtime.


If you enjoy this type of subject, check out:

“Dave Barry’s Complete Guide to Guys: A Fairly Short Book”.


The description of the vacuum cleaner races ’bout killed me.

A Dinner With Rabbie

Our friends at USA Kilts published a fine reminder of the annual celebration of Scotland’s favorite poet Robert Burns (1759-1796).

The long standing tradition of gathering each January 25th for an evening of feasting, toasting, and the reading of the master’s works is a fine way to spend an evening with friends. Partaking of fine single malt scotch, haggis, fine blended scotch, short bread, just plain scotch, and poetry.

Check out their article at the link above, especially the recipe for casserole dish haggis. I have not tried it…yet.

Another source for fine tasting haggis that contains none of the ingredients that usually send American screaming into the dark is the Caledonian Kitchen . This company sells their haggis in cans through  the British Emporium in Grapevine , Texas, and online including Amazon .

As ye celebrate dinna ferget a bit o’ song gaes well wid d’ festivities, an’ this song should be an ad for Uber:

Drunken Scotsman



The Lost Traveler – Chillin’ Out, A Traveler’s Worst Enemy

Wildfire had burned over 100 acres of the Camp Constantin Boy Scout reservation near Graford, Texas, so Troop 734 from Farmer’s Branch (DFW) was on a weekend campout to help plant new trees in the burned area.

The temperature was in the low 50s, with a strong sharp wind accompanied by off and on rain showers. The Scouts were ready for the weather. Good boots, heavy jackets, and rain ponchos.

Each Scout had his E-tool (folding shovel) and a 5-gallon bucket full of seedling pine trees. They found their grid assignment and spread out. Each Scout was twenty yards from the Scout to either side, and the instructions were to walk ten paces, chop a hole in the ground, plant a tree, and repeat until the bucket was empty.

The task was pretty simple, and the Scouts were moving through head-high grass that had moved in after the burn. The line of Scouts started to straggle, as each boy bent to plant the next tree. When he stood again, he could barely see the other Scouts to either side.

A “slough” (sloo) is a water channel. Natural sloughs are often part of a swamp or bayou. Man-made sloughs are channels created to control flooding. The Scout did not know what kind of slough he stepped into. All he knew was one second he was pushing through the grass, and the next he was submerged in icy water. Jettisoning his E-tool and bucket, he fought his way through the tangle and crawled back on shore completely soaked to the skin.

That was the first time this child wandered down the path to hypothermia. (The lowering of core body temperature to a point where life cannot be sustained.)

After I got out of the water, I realized:

My troop was either no longer in the area, or I had wandered out of our assigned area.

My troop had failed to do a body count before heading back to camp, so nobody knew I was missing.

In the time it took me to find a road, and get back to where I was supposed to be, I had gone through uncomfortable, to goose bumps, painful shivers, and I had finally reached a point where the shivering stopped. I was feeling nice and warm. All I wanted to do was to lie down on that nice soft soaking wet ground under one of those trees and take a little nap. No long, just a minute or two…

The priorities of survival are:

  1. Shelter
  2. Water
  3. Food

Shelter is the first priority because extreme changes in body temperature can kill very quickly if the condition is not recognized, and immediate steps taken to correct the situation.

The following news stories describe different outcomes:





The best defense against cold is proper clothing composed of layers and wool.

Layered clothing allows you to adjust your personal insulation to suit the situation and your activity level. The worst thing you can do in cold conditions is get wet, and that includes perspiration. Chopping wood? Take a couple of layers off and keep working. If your body starts to feel a bit damp, you have waited too long. Stop and remove a layer or two. Cool down and dry out.

Repeat after me, “Wool is my friend.”

Wool has a unique property that can keep you alive. Wool insulates even when wet. Cotton is worthless as an insulator when it is damp. Gore-Tex is good. Wool is better. Wear it head to toe.

If you feel the goosebumps start, or you pick up a shiver, and you are exposed outdoors, it is time to take steps to get warm, and walking around can help with that. Just do not over do a good thing.


The second best defense is your crash kit. These kits are called by hundreds of names. The most common is probably “BOB” (aka Bug-Out-Bag) or Get Home Bag. I will not go into a list of must –haves because every person needs to build their bag to meet their most likely crisis scenario.

Long ago my Mom lived in Taos, New Mexico, and I would drive up and spend Christmas and New Years with her, so I worked out my Crash kit based on my most likely scenarios on that journey. One year I was really glad to have it when my car decided to give me trouble way out in the middle of the Texas panhandle, and the weather was moving in. Fortunately, I managed to nurse my cripple into Dalhart and get a motel room before things got nasty, but had I been stuck, I would have been OK.

I was wearing a combination of wool and cotton layers in the form of thermal underwear, wool socks, wool sweater, a parka, and a wool felt cowboy hat.

My kit list is pretty short:

Wool watch cap

Rain poncho in rip-stop nylon (Get an insulated poncho liner to help keep warm)

Leather work gloves

1lb. peanut butter (Best source of emergency calories I know)

Fire striker and cylinder of lifeboat matches

Emergency whistle

1 Tomahawk (My hawk has a rounded eye, so I can whittle down a tree branch to replace a broken handle)

1 Pocket compass with scale ruler for map reading.

1 pair slip-joint pliers

Canteen with aluminum cup and cover. (I can boil water in the cup to purify and/or make tea for warmth.)

1 Roll of toilet paper

In addition to the kit I had:

1 dome tent

1 sleeping bag

Other stuff I carried regardless of the weather:

.44 Magnum Ruger Super Blackhawk in shoulder holster

50 rounds of ammo (12 in pocket, 38 in my kit)

4” folding knife

Some folks are going to question the need for the revolver, so I should explain that road trips in Texas and New Mexico can easily lead the unwary driver into close encounters with roaming livestock and large wildlife in the form of deer and feral hogs. In New Mexico, black bear and antelope are often seen as roadkill.

Assuming the driver survives the initial accident, they are often faced with a crippled animal thrashing around on the road. Being a humane and responsible person, I want to have the means to quickly end the animal’s suffering without having to resort to my tomahawk, E-tool, or a rock I find beside the road.

In addition, a .44 Magnum makes on hell of a signaling device in the event you need to attract the attention of rescuers. You can also hunt with it if you have really screwed up and gotten lost.

For those living in restrictive states, a 12 or 20-gauge shotgun loaded with slugs will do the job nicely. It’s just a lot more trouble to carry around.

With the kit above, and properly layered clothing, I was prepared in the event I was stuck on my own for a few days.

Another thing to include are topographical and county road maps. Most of these are free for the printing on the Internet. In addition to paper not requiring a charged mobile device and cell service, they are often far more accurate than Google Maps and GPS. A good map might have saved those folks from PA some serious misery.

Give some thought to your route of travel and the expected weather before you hit the road. Dress appropriately, and have your Crash Kit stocked based on your family’s needs. Example: If you have small children some crayons and coloring books can help pass the time.

Stay warm and stay safe.