UPDATE: New power supply obtained. If part of my body will quit being a jerk to the rest of us, hope to be back at it tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Barring donations, will be offline until at least the first full week of December. The power supply for the “new” computer that I’ve not even had a year at this point, has died. Need a new one. Not too bad a price, but no funds to spare for it right now. Not helping that we are having router issues (landlord issue) as well. More soon, on when I can get power and internet going.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Thanksgiving Dinner

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Even if I could have afforded it, I would not have done the “traditional” meal yesterday. First, it’s just me and the traditional meal is a bit much even with how much I enjoy eating. Second, it’s a labor of love that needs to be shared. The last time I cooked the full meal was for a military unit, and it wasn’t that much more effort and ingredients than some past family gatherings.

Besides, I do try to keep Keto though I did go off it yesterday rather thoroughly. Most of my favorites growing up don’t qualify these days: rice and gravy, sweet potato casserole with pecan crust, a green congealed salad with cream cheese and pecans, and the stuffing. I do miss a good pecan pie, and while she was not a part of the Thanksgiving crowd, my cousin Ann was a baker who could hold her own against some professional chefs, and her pies and cakes were amazing.

Also, I have to admit, that after the lightning strike and all that happened, I don’t eat as much as I used to. Even a normal meal can make me feel bloated and uncomfortable for hours. Dinner can be as much a snack as anything else these days.

So, I opted for a full meal but with reduced portions. I have salmon in the freezer because I needed a couple of portions a while back for a recipe, which meant I had to get a package of the thankfully individually shrink-wrapped portions. Salmon was a luxury growing up, a rarity, and I will have to give my mother props for her salmon croquettes. I don’t think I had fresh salmon until I was in high school. So, luxury meat I bought when prices were much, much better it is. Grilled with a smokey bourbon glaze.

At the doctor’s recommendation after the open heart surgery, I went off Keto a bit and discovered I don’t miss a lot of the standard carbs. Exceptions are pecan waffles, mashed potatoes (real is better than instant, but…), and crackers and corn chips. Since I had decided to have a waffle for breakfast, I opted to go for mashed cauliflower instead of potato. With additional butter and cheese, not bad and filled that spot. Did cheat and buy it on sale.

The veggie was another treat from childhood, asparagus. Rare treat growing up was canned asparagus (you almost never saw fresh in the store back then) with mayo. Bit of dill maybe. So, Aldi had some fresh in and on sale, and while I prefer to grill, our little porch grill is not good for that. So, I did a sautee with a bit of white wine, butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and a hint of smoked paprika.

I had a can of the green ripe olives in the emergency stash. Growing up, the black ripe olives were a huge hit with pretty much everyone. Not sure if it is true, but heard a tale of one alleged adult getting into a fist fight with two or three of the toddlers, and not coming out ahead. I may or may not have been one of the toddlers involved. Toddlers tend to punch out and up. Male or female adult groins are quite sensitive and make a good target. Enough said. For all that I do still enjoy the black olives, I found the tree-ripened olives many years back and have not looked back. Amazing flavor. Second major comfort food niche filled.

For those who want to try it, the glaze for the salmon is easy to do. In a bowl, I put a dollop (precise measurements people, precise measurements!) of raw local honey, about a half a teaspoon of bourbon, a couple of drops of lime juice, chipotle, smoked salt, fresh ground pepper, and a bit of hot smoked paprika. Don’t drink? Leave the bourbon out. Want to double down on the smokey flavor? Use a good Islay Scotch instead. Mix well, place on top of the salmon, and cook. Yesterday, I fashioned a container around the salmon with aluminum foil to ensure that when the glaze melted it stuck around to give max flavor.

Desert was a slice of Key Lime Pie. It was okay, though I wish I could have gotten it from Publix, as that chain does amazing Key Lime pies! The white wine I used with the asparagus was not quite a two-buck-chuck, but close enough that I had wondered if it would even be good. It was, with some wonderful citrus notes that worked well with the asparagus and tasted good when drinking. Pro Tip: if you would not drink the wine, do not cook with it. Later, I did have some bourbon as I relaxed in my chair.

So, I hope your day was filled with love as well as good and tasty things. I got started on my giving thanks ahead of time as on the day things can get hectic.

Oh, and nice thing about my meal was that I had everything prepared and cooked in right around an hour. Clean-up took maybe 15-30 minutes. Not bad for Thanksgiving.

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which began as a celebration of life, abundance, and thanks. I’ve long tried to stop each year and give thanks for all that is good in my life. That can include things that may not seem a blessing, but often in those mysterious ways turn out to be so. So, I give thanks to God and thanks to those here who have impacted my life.

First and foremost, I am thankful to still be here. A year ago last June, lightning entered my life and started a most interesting journey for me. A year ago last October I had open heart surgery so they could take care of three different issues that had cropped up. The strike itself was a series of small miracles that made the difference between my getting up and going to work not realizing I had been hit, and my landlord finding my body instead. The last year plus has seen a number of medical and other challenges, and we seem to be holding on fairly well.

While it is hard, I try to be thankful for my memory issues. Right now, my short-term memory is, ah, limited. There are portions of my long-term memory that I can’t access. I’m told that this too shall pass, and while it can be frustrating (or worse) it also reminds me to be thankful for what I have, and that in about three years my brain should have healed and most of these issues will then pass. Until then, I’m thankful that there was no major physical damage (fractures and the like) to the brain, that it will heal, and that I have methods of coping that help a lot. I may still have to put my morning pills in a bowl, count, and verify to be sure I take them all; but, I can do that and pretty much everything else on my own.

I find it very hard to be thankful for the hearing loss. In addition to general loss in both ears, and an increase in tinnitus, I lost all the upper frequency hearing in one ear, and the nerves are dead so no getting it back via tech. Things sound strange, different, or missing. That said, it does force me to slow down and actually listen on occasion, which in this world can be a good thing. It also makes me appreciate what I still can hear even more. For that, I am thankful.

I am thankful for the open heart surgery, as it seems to have worked well and from which I have bounced back amazingly well given all. Still working on endurance and more, but it is a blessing to be able to get out and walk and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. And to meet a number of the neighborhood dogs. That’s really fun to do.

I am thankful for my regular medical team, and for the team at RHI who have helped me develop some of the methods of coping that allow me to function well (most of the time). For all that I sometimes do resent having to live off lists and such, I’m also thankful I have that option and that it works as well as it does as much as it does.

I am thankful for all who have offered support and encouragement through the fundraiser. I never expected that I would get hit by lightning, much less that it would lead to a year-plus of medical and other challenges or that I would be out of work so long. The prayers, encouragement, and financial support are amazing and why I am still going. With the medical on an even keel for now, though it took much longer than planned/desired, working hard to get moved out to the Southwest. Thank you all!

I am thankful for you, my readers. There is overlap between this group and the fundraising group, but you too have offered prayers, encouragement, and financial gifts. Some of you have offered tech support and other information as this blog has changed hosts and otherwise started on the path of being a well-read blog once again. Again, thank you all!

Finally, I am thankful for my friends. As with all such dramatic changes in life, one finds out who one’s friends truly are in times like these. I have met friends I didn’t realize I had, and I’ve seen true friends stand out like wheat from chaff. I have seen kindness unbounded from strangers, and have reconnected with friends from the past. For it all, I give thanks and say to you, thank you all.

There are many more blessings in my life, but for now I share these with you and encourage you to take the time this Thanksgiving to list the blessings (even in disguise) in your life and give thanks. It is right and proper to do so. Equally, it is a good reminder of all that is good in our lives in these interesting times.

The times are not good, but in the face of it people still do good things. Have Faith, as even when things are dark and tight, there is good and help in this world. Also, remember that together we can do more than alone, and we need to stand with our brothers and sisters during this great challenge.

Be not despondent, be not afraid. Instead, give thanks and do what what you can so that all of us can move forward together.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Asymmetrical Musings 4

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Today, we need to consider a different lesson. Invasion and/or occupation are a de facto declaration of war no matter the words used in excuse. Each war has it’s own lessons to learn, and history suggests that the truism about preparing to fight the last war is sadly true. For just two examples, think of WWI and the machine gun versus formation fighting. In WWII, we saw the battleship replaced by the aircraft carrier.

Sadly, I fear we are well on our way to learning a wrong lesson from the Russia-Ukraine war. For far too many, the focus is on drones, loitering munitions, and advanced artillery. The first two in particular have grabbed popular fascination, and what is being done with them is indeed amazing, successful, and more. There are already concepts for the next drone du jour, and a lot of armchair talk about how drones and other unmanned systems are the future.

To my mind, there are two big problems for anyone facing or under occupation in regards this. First, drones are the technology of today. Second, the enthusiasts miss the key point that makes drones possible: data.

As for the first point, drones have already been changing the face of warfare for a few years now. What has changed is that troops regular, irregular, and partisan are making full use of commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. At least in some quarters, the creative use of COTS has been discussed for some time, especially as a variety of systems have matured. Video cameras and displays, drones, model rockets, advanced phone and radio devices, and more all have a place.

Drones will be a part of warfare in any form from now on. The real question is what will be the technology of the next war? Again, as we’ve discussed before, what matters most in the struggle against any invader or occupier is flexible minds. In this war, it is that flexibility that saw drones modified for recon, for pinpoint bombing (micro bombing), and even delivery of small (or even medium) items to troops cut off or otherwise needing resupply. It was that mental flexibility that saw someone use a 3-D printer to design and print a tail fin for various grenades (mostly 40s) so that they fell straight and true onto target.

Which brings us to data. Knowing where to start looking for targets takes data. Controlling drones at remote ranges takes data. Sharing your wild hair for modifying a drone to hit enemy targets takes data. Sharing the 3-D printer file for grenade tail fins (and other delights) takes data. Assessing strike and other action results takes data. Data, and the ability to share/communicate it, are essential to fighting any invasion or occupation.

In this case, quite a bit of that rests on the use of the Starlink satellite internet system. The enemy can jam many things, it’s hard to jam an entire satellite constellation. Add in the ability of cell phones to communicate directly with satellites, and you have something any general throughout history would have killed to have for their campaigns.

The modern smartphone is, at its core, a computer. If you can hook that computer directly to a satellite independent of cellular service, you have the ability to pull in data from satellites, web sites, and more. You also have the ability to control systems from a distance. Make it a discrete hot spot, and you can hook in drone or other controls to it. You can hook a laptop into it, and then brother do your abilities go up.

Now, if you can figure out how to make your uplink signal shielded or a tight-beam to help escape detection (for the enemy will be looking for you), all the better. Even better is to hide the abilities of the phone to a cursory search. The Russians have primarily been checking cell phones for obvious signs of resistance such as text messages, e-mail, photos, and such. They may get smart, and if not, others are surely learning lessons as well.

If you even begin to think you might be invaded or occupied, now is the time to start setting up the necessary communications/data systems. You need multiple access points to the internet, cellular, and satellite systems. You need to make those as secure as possible. Set up as many systems as you can for redundancy as well as security. It would also be wise to set up some maskirova of your own, both in terms of hiding things and putting up some things for the enemy to find and/or destroy so they think they have hurt you.

Also, start buying terminals and services now, and set-up funds out-of-country to pay for those services after you are occupied. Buy new cell phones with the satellite technology, and get what computer equipment you can as well. Despite Elon’s generosity to the Ukraine, the level of service needed costs. Plan for it. And look at ways to get creative and use the enemy’s systems (and funding sources) against them. Again, flexible minds.

What will be the next drone? Good question, and there are some options already out there. Without data and the ability to communicate it, none of it will be effective.

For the grins of it, some thoughts in fiction form.

Korolev stood in the control tower and watched the massive cargo plane maneuver to the end of the runway, as always fascinated with the beauty of the movement as well as wishing it could hurry up. Right now, the jamming systems around the base were down, as were the automatic defense systems against drones since it would not go well with higher if said systems took out your own plane.

The one thing up and working, however, was radar. Ground clutter meant that it could only scan from about fifty feet up, but everyone knew that drones came in and dropped things, and to do so meant usually they flew a hundred feet or higher.

Cursing as the plane stopped at it’s hold point, Korolev lit a cigarette and muttered a few words about being a nervous old woman. He would be glad when the plane was gone and the defenses could come back up. Besides, the plane not only had a few prisoners, but a lot more medical evacuations as well as items liberated locally to be sent back home. The evacuations were needed, not only for the wounded, but that accidental electrical short in the barracks shower had overwhelmed the cardiac capabilities of the medical staff. The hospital of the occupied air base was not designed for the number of casualties coming in to it.

Finally, the giant plane began its roll down the runway. About a third of the way down, it began to rotate, and finally the wheels left the ground. Even as they did so, however, disaster struck.

The drones were small and had come in on the deck, only lifting up briefly to clear the fence. No one saw them until it was too late. As the transport lifted, all of them homed in on the engines on the right wing, the wing on the same side as all the hangars, storage, and other necessities of a modern airbase.

Most were simply small drones, while a few may have had some bit of explosive or incendiary munitions on board. It almost didn’t matter as they hit each engine like a massive bird strike. Even as Korolev’s mouth began to open and his cigarette to fall unnoticed, those engines came apart.

For something moving so slow, the pinwheel to the right happened in the blink of an eye. Still in ground effect, the giant transport didn’t have a chance. It crashed into the flight line and hangars on the right side of the runway. Fully fueled, it exploded into a mushroom cloud that swelled up hundreds of feet even as thousands of liters of burning jet fuel rushed out over the ground to engulf nearby hangars and planes.

Away from the crash, crews raced into the hangars and revetments where the fighter jets waited.

“Good!” thought Korolev. “Get them out and away before they go up too.”

As flames began to engulf the hangars, explosions began, spreading the destruction even further. It was then that Korolev noted that the ends had popped off a crate in the pile of liberated items to be sent back home on the next flight. It was from the local school robotics collective and contained all the robots they had. As he watched, fifteen to twenty robots suddenly raced out of the crate, and headed towards the hangars and revetments for the fighters.

The wheeled robots were fast, agile, and had closed the distance before anyone could react. They reached their targets and exploded under the fighters near the left main landing gear in a rippling wave. Those going for the hangars targeted the lead fighter, trapping the rest inside. The planes that didn’t go up immediately from the effects of the directional mines in each robot collapsed as the landing gear gave way. Many of them caught fire as they did so.

With almost everyone looking at the twin disasters, no one saw the third wave coming in. These were planes, the current iteration of the old radio controlled planes and some of them were quite large. Like the original attack, they came in low, popped over the fence, and went straight for the base tank farm.

The largest fired what appeared to be modified model rockets at the big tanks. They weren’t trying to make them explode, just leak. Though if they had exploded no one in the resistance was going to mind. Some of the mid-size and smaller planes did modified bombing runs, lobbing 40mm grenades with tail fins at the sides of the tanks. The last few planes across dropped incendiary grenades as they raced off and dropped back down to the deck outside the fence.

The build seemed slow to those used to the movies, but within a few minutes, the tank farm was ablaze, with only the deep revetments around the tanks holding in the burning fuel. Horrified, Korolev stared at one of the emergency pipes that penetrated the berm so that spilled gas could be pumped into trucks and taken away at need. Was it his imagination, or was that remotely controlled valve starting to cycle?

Previously In This Series

Asymmetrical Musings 1

Asymmetrical Musings 2

Asymmetrical Musings 3

Preparedness Pays: Draft Chapter 1A

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

The Basic Blocks Of Practical Preparedness

Since I know you probably skipped over the introduction and all that other stuff up front, a quick review. Preparedness is not something that should be daunting, intimidating, overwhelming, or anything other than fairly straightforward, maybe even enjoyable. Brave words, but accurate.

Yes, there are an almost infinite number of possible disasters large and small out there. It’s what the brainiacs refer to as an “Infinity minus one” situation though I still say the number of possible disasters is “Infinity minus two” since the Sweet Meteor Of Death (SMOD) proved to be just another lying politician. The thing is, the number of potential disasters is not where you need to focus. Instead, look at what can be affected by a disaster and the types of damage done.

When you come right down to it, there are only three things that can be affected by any disaster: people, places, things. Now, let’s take a look at each. People can only be impacted three ways: loss of resources, body damage, and fiscal damage. Places can be impacted two ways: damage and destruction. Things can be impacted three ways: damage, destruction, and scarcity. These eight things are the basic building blocks for preparedness. Working with them, you can design a plan for practical preparedness that you can work into you life and lifestyle. Eight is much easier to plan for, no?

Now that we have building blocks, you need some planning blocks to go with them. While there are several such blocks, we are going to start with the most basic. They revolve around time, since all your planning will ultimately do so as well. Time is what differentiates a minor disaster from a moderate disaster and those from a major disaster. For purposes of planning, a minor disaster will last minutes up to a week. A moderate disaster will last a week up to a month. A major disaster is a month or longer.

For example, a power failure or the city where you live shutting down water to your neighborhood for work is a thing of minutes to a day or two (usually). A winter storm is going to impact things for a few days to a week as a general rule. The thing is, minor disasters are of relatively short duration, and the shorter that duration the easier to have practical preparedness turn a disaster into, at most, an inconvenience.

Moderate disasters take things up a step. They can be major weather events that cause damage, industrial accidents, or other delights where most normal day-to-day activities are impacted for up to a month. While things may not be back to normal by then, they are to the point where most of your normal life can resume.

Major disasters are going to have an impact lasting months and even years. Major disasters usually involve rebuilding not just structures, but lives and institutions. It can be a massive tornado, hurricane, or nuclear war. It could be a massive crop failure, or even the failure of a major system (economic, logistics, etc.)

More than you will believe right now, here at the start, the type of the disaster rarely matters. It is the length of the impact that does.

So, let’s start playing with our blocks. First up, relax, there are no pop quizzes in this book. When it comes to preparedness, life is the pop-quiz and I want you to pass with flying colors. Let’s start by looking at our three people building blocks.

What is loss of resources? It is the loss of food, water, power, fuel, and other resources necessary for life, much less modern life. For this block, it is the resources that need to be replenished on a regular basis. It is the groceries we buy to make into meals. It is the water we get from the tap and other libations that we drink, adult or otherwise. It is the electric bill we pay so that we flip a switch and the lights come on, the stove runs, and other wonderful things happen. It is the gas that comes into the house for heating and cooking. It is the gasoline for our car, the lawn mower, or even the chain saw. If you have a fireplace, it is the wood that goes in it to be burned.

What is body damage? It is physical harm to the body. It is the impact on mind and spirit that come from a disaster. Both have negative effects on the body, and prevent a person from responding fully to a disaster. It’s hard to chop wood with a broken arm. Cuts and scrapes need to be mended. It is the tendency in the human animal to blame themselves for things outside their control, as well as to blame ourselves for not being perfect in our preparations, much less life. It is being overwhelmed by the scope of a disaster, and losing our sense of proportion as we face a problem.

What is fiscal damage? It is the loss of monetary resources or other valuables as the result of disaster. It can be the cost of repairs, or it can be the loss of value because of inflation, recession, or even depression. It can be the result of fraud or other unfriendly action. While it will not be a major part of this book, it is something for which planning and preparation is needed.

Now, lets look at our two building blocks for places. For our purposes, places are going to be primarily structures, though natural locations and structures also technically fall into this category.

What is damage in the context of this block? It is anything that impacts the structural integrity and/or the weather tightness of the structure or location such as a cave. It is broken windows, cracked foundation, a hole in a roof, a hole in or damage two the side of a structure. It is fire, it is flood, it is a collapsed ceiling. Anything that makes a structure become of limited use and habitability is damage. More importantly, it is damage that can be repaired.

What is destruction in the context of this block? It is not just the total loss of the structure, but it can also be damage that is too extensive or that can’t be easily repaired. Anything that makes a structure unsafe to use or totally destroys that structure is destruction for the terms of this building block.

Now, let’s look at things. Things are all the devices and objects we use in everyday life. They are our cell phones, our tools, and our vehicles. They are also the bridges and roads we use. There is not much we can do to prepare those things for an emergency, but we do need to plan on what to do if they are damaged or gone.

What is damage in the context of this block? It can be physical damage, such as a cracked screen on a phone, a bent fender, or a broken handle. It can be water damage from rain or flooding. It could even be damage caused by an electromagnetic pulse. It is anything that prevents or reduces the usability of an item.

What is destruction in the context of this block? It is the complete loss of use of the item.

What is scarcity in the context of this block? It means the item, in full working condition, is in limited supply. It means there isn’t much or many of the item out there. It means what you have needs to last as long as possible.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at applying our planning blocks to our building blocks.

The book as it goes:

Preparedness Pays: Draft Introduction

Asymmetrical Musings 3

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Welcome to another meeting of the party who thinks fastest laughs last club. In this post and this post, we’ve begun touching on some of the lessons learned about asymmetrical and irregular warfare coming out of the Russia-Ukraine war. Today, I want to take a look at the somewhat touchy area of sabotage and/or small unit operations.

I say somewhat touchy because when it comes to sabotage, neither side particularly wants to say too much. For the occupier/oppressor, claiming or admitting sabotage has some very serious downsides. For one thing, it lets everyone know the area is not under control, and that those opposing the invasion/occupation are effectively fighting against such. For the invaded/occupied, you run the risk of giving away techniques, people, and more if you admit to it, worse yet if you brag about it. Which is why you see a lot of implication that something was sabotage (or a small unit strike) by one side and the other side saying yep sure was something with the implication they may (or may not) have been behind it.

Look at Vladimir’s bridge for an example. Sabotage? Small unit attack? About everything has been hinted at in terms of how it was done, with the Russians torn between claiming sabotage (truck full of explosives that they missed on inspection) or small unit attack (water-based drone or guided munition from nearby small unit). The Ukrainians are being very cagey about it, pretty much saying we did it even while neither confirming or denying they did it. It’s a dance of psy-ops and politics for the leadership on each side. For those in any occupied area, it’s pretty much pure psy-ops and operations.

For the occupied, it’s finding ways large and small to hurt the occupier. Big and showy is great for morale, but never forget that nibbling away at the edges can work wonders too. Food, as discussed the other day, is but one means of hitting at the occupier.

Water systems are a good one. While contaminating the water supply is an option, the harder thing to prevent is damage to the delivery systems (and boy can you get creative with just a few things from the home supply or hardware store. Hot water is needed for multiple things, from dishes and washing clothes to bathing. Industrial boilers and heaters are simple on one level, and incredibly complex on others. Pity when critical components fail or go missing, especially when it is hard to get spares. Just even switching hot for cold has a psychological effect, especially if combined with a host of other ‘nuisance’ things going on.

Electrical? Even better. It’s amazing how many complexes and facilities depend on two or three large transformers for primary power. Transformers that are in the open, depend on oil and other fluid inside to function, and have some control electronics nearby. Industrial acid thrown or sprayed on them might not be detected immediately, and while it takes time, that can be a good thing. Snipers potting them so that oil leaks or other damage is done is another. Heck, a satchel charge or three tossed into the transformer compound will do the trick too. Thing is, no matter how direct or creative you get, those types of transformers are expensive to replace and may take time to replace as there may not be a ready supply of replacements.

Another thought is that modern electronics (and even basic electrical appliances) don’t react well if the electricity coming in isn’t precisely the right voltage, amperage, etc. Be a shame if the controls got hacked and things got just a bit off.

HVAC systems are another option, and it is surprising how many are online or have online access. While you can take them out, consider also a period where things work too well then not well enough. Temperature, pressure, have fun. Take out the systems in their headquarters, military or civilian. Particularly if they have an underground bunker of some type, as it is going to get hot fast without ventilation and AC.

In addition, of course, are the normal targets for sabotage: rail, roads, power lines, airports, depots, etc. Pick and choose your battles for maximum damage with conserving your people as much as practical. It’s not just people getting caught and killed, it’s that even with cell structure things can happen where more than one cell or string gets rolled up and technical means exposed.

AvGas and Jet Fuel are easy to compromise, and that contamination may not show up until craft are operational. I had the fun joy joy one day of being part of an emergency grounding at Ft. Rucker because of contaminated fuel. The cows were rather bemused by our rapid appearance among them, and we sat and watched each other while waiting to get word on if it was safe for us to start back up and head in to the barn.

Which reminds me that it’s time to share a bit with you about Bryan Gibson. Bryan was a veteran, a talented artist, and had a story idea that he was playing with that involved sabotage that would be extremely effective and not easily detectible at first. Simply put, change the tolerances in the control chips (same chips run an awful lot of stuff) on any number of systems by a decimal point. Self-driving vehicles either are suddenly wildly avoiding non-existent hazards, or slamming into buildings and other vehicles. Think of all the things with electronic controls, and imagine what happens if the tolerance is off by one decimal point. BTW, people didn’t like Bryan being OPFOR either, especially after he successfully “blew up” a base operations center/command post during an exercise. God Bless my friend, you are missed.

Die Hard had a point. If somehow an airport’s systems were hacked and the decimal got moved on some of the electronic guidance systems, life would get interesting. “Landing” a hundred feet off the ground is just as bad as a landing approach for one hundred feet under the ground. Even ten feet will be interesting to bad. Much more likely to have survivors, but the aircraft and runways involved are a different matter.

Now, for those complaining that a lot of what I’m describing won’t drive out or destroy the enemy that is invading/occupying the location. By itself, no, it won’t. But, when you attack the important things, would you rather they be guarded by alert and healthy troops, or by troops who are miserable as in cold wet, tired, hungry, etc.? The nuisance operations allow a lot of opportunity to damage morale and combat effectiveness while minimizing exposure of your people and assets. It also increases the chances of success for the larger operations while again reducing some of the odds against your people.

Besides, it can make your occupier do your work for you. For example, the Russians, and the Soviet Union before them, had a lot of “bad luck” with ammunition depots. Just look at the Severomorsk Disaster, where said bad luck went on for several days. Igor (Ivan’s not bright younger brother) is prone to sneaking smokes in places he shouldn’t on a fairly regular basis it seems. Again, cold, tired, hungry, etc. troops tend not to make great judgements. Use it and exploit it.

Now, how much of this are we seeing in the Ukraine right now? Good question. The problem is that the ‘nuisance’ ops are not going to make the news. You find them in the Telegram channels and other communications back home. Are they going on? I suspect that to some extent they are. When it comes to the larger things that are happening, it’s hard to tell if it was Igor sneaking a smoke or a nice partisan/irregular or special forces operation. Which is as it should be in many respects. If you are the invaded/occupied, it’s better not to make the news and let as much as possible be put down to “bad luck.”

Previously In This Series

Asymmetrical Musings 1

Asymmetrical Musings 2

A Chili Weekend


My breakfast this morning. Plating not perfect, but I was hungry.

It’s cold, I’m dragging, so it’s time for chili. Didn’t hurt that I found some beef (steak) that had gotten lost in the freezer and needed to be used. So, seared (sorta) on the grill, and made a cowboy-style chili. Basic recipe is at the link above. Let it cook at 250 for quite a while (3pm-5am), pulled it out this morning, stirred, and had it with egg over diced avocado for breakfast.


It was a riff on a favorite Japanese breakfast, where there was smoked fish in hot rice, and they would crack an egg over the mixture. The heat and steam from the rice cooked the egg. For today, I cracked an egg into a bowl, put hot chili over it, then put some shredded cheese on top of the chili. After waiting a minute or two, stirred and put it over the avocado.

For camping, or just for fun, another way to do it is using a real mug (not some small thing), crack an egg into the bottom, put hot chili over it to about two thirds full, then put shredded cheese. Wait a couple of minutes, stir, then top with sour cream. You can use some guacamole with the sour cream even. If the egg is not cooked to your taste, nuke for a few seconds if at home.

Before I forget, two quick ways to change-up your standard chili. First, throw in an ounce or two of unsweetened dark chocolate. It adds some depth and works well with the various peppers in chili powder as well as cumin and other spices. Think how it works in a mole sauce.

The other is to add some strong black coffee. I know people who just add the ground coffee, but I prefer to go with the liquid. Again, adds to the range of flavors.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Asymmetrical Musings 2

Getting hit by lightning is not fun! If you would like to help me in my recovery efforts, which include moving to the SW, feel free to hit the fundraiser at A New Life on GiveSendGo, use the options in the Tip Jar in the upper right, or drop me a line to discuss other methods. It is thanks to your gifts and prayers that I am still going. Thank you.

Welcome to this morning’s session of the party who thinks fastest laughs last club. Yesterday, we began a look at the lessons learned about asymmetrical/irregular warfare from the Russia-Ukraine war. There are a lot of lessons, but the real trick is to break the normal cycle of fighting the last war and find the right lessons instead.

Today, we’re going to take a look on the micro scale into psy-ops and effective resistance for regular, special, and irregular forces. Some of what we’ve seen reinforces current (and historical) practice, and some shows either innovation or the direction for more innovation.

For a number of reasons, I want to start with one of my favorite stories from the early days of the war. The lady who cooked a poison dinner. Yeah, it’s been done before and if you do it, unless you want an ugly death, it’s a good idea not to stick around. In this iteration, a nice older lady cooked up a large pot of something with a large amount of poison, and served it to a few dozen Russian troops if I remember correctly.

The story may or may not be true. I have not dug into it, because it doesn’t matter as it was very effective propaganda. If it built up Ukrainian morale that’s great, but what it did do was put a strain on the invaders. Was that meal they were given (or stealing) real, or poisoned? It created uncertainty and put an extra strain on food logistics as local food could not be trusted in many areas. More on the logistics angle in a bit.

Michael Z. Williamson wrote about this in one of his stories (book?) with a number of occupying soldiers going missing and then having their dog tags show up in the food being served their fellows. Along with the psychological impact, the occupiers could no longer trust the local suppliers and had to start bringing in all food from elsewhere if I remember correctly.

A dog tag, name tape, or other ID showing up in stew, sausage, or even a bag of salad is going to have a strong effect. Never mind that it is improbable, to say the least, that such would survive the processing and cooking intact. It still will have the impact and no amount of reassurance from higher is going to be believed. Especially if it is from missing or locally buried troops.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for some other things but such rarely grabs the attention generated by HIMARS, drones, and the like. These are only going to be found as, er, grouching, in messages home or such. To damage or destroy combat readiness and effectiveness, you don’t need to kill. You just need to be bad.

For example, if there is a mess hall, switch the incoming salt and sugar. You are talking large amounts of ingredients and food, and if you put either in place of the other you’ve just rendered that food or drink inedible.

“Accidental” contamination is another way to make things bad. Years ago, we used an industrial soap to coat the outside of pots used for cooking over open fires. This made clean-up much, much, much easier. The only problem was, it took just a few grains to have everyone who ate from the contaminated pot (or whatever the contents of that pot went into) sitting/squatting wherever they could for several hours even with anti-diarrheal medicines.

Sadly, it’s not hard to contaminate food. Meat is very easy to contaminate, and salads can be a microbial delight. Unwashed hands can be almost as good as deliberate application of nasty things. Do it upline as far as you can, and it becomes safer for the person who’s doing it and harder to defeat for the occupier. In fact, I can remember a time growing up when canned items were getting recalled for botulism in much the way salads are now with E. Coli. One slip and that could become a factor again.

Contamination, poor ingredients, poor quality control, and you have bad food. One of the quickest boosts for morale in a troop is a good hot meal. Rob them of that, and you have a very unhappy troop.

It is more than just psychological. As noted with the soap above, a possibly significant number of troops now require medical attention and/or supervision, which ties up the medical staff and/or medics. Other troops and staff are tied up in the care as well, may have to pull double shifts, and you also have to start over on the food, possibly even throwing out all ingredients. Multiple blows in a potentially easy strike.

Which has made me wonder about some of the grouching on the Russian channels. Normal problems with their fracked up logistics situation? Or someone getting creative to add to those issues?

Now, another micro application of some macro information. The real trick to making life fun for any invader or occupier is to determine where they are having logistical issues, then adding to them. I think it an immutable law of war that you are always going to be short on something, often several somethings. As the defender/resistance, it behooves you to figure out what those are and making the situation worse.

Early on, it became apparent in the Ukraine that military trucks and tires for any vehicles were a major weak point. It also became clear without a lot being said that regular, special, and irregular forces were all quite cheerfully potting tires and damaging trucks beyond ready repair. When you see the Russians building up sandbags and revetments to protect the tires of vehicles, you know you have a gold target.

That’s when, if you can, you go all out. Caltrops of various sizes are fairly easy to produce even in a home shop, and since you’re not having to build them to last for decades you might even be able to 3-D print them. Who cares if they break, especially if they break apart inside a tire or body.

Heck, if you can find them, children’s jacks can be ground into something that will work on troops and civilian grade tires. Boards with nails through them work well too. Spray paint the boards and nails as appropriate, and they can be hard to detect. Police spike strips can work too.

Thing is, if you know where a patrol will be going or the advancing forces will be traveling, make it fun for them. If you have them, put out caltrops of all sizes not only on the roads, but likely areas in fields and especially in areas where troops are going to take cover from an ambush. If not a real ambush, set up booby traps to create something from which they have to maneuver or take cover. Net result, tires blown, vehicles as easier targets, and troops taken out of the fight after stepping/landing on the caltrops. Pretty much same with simple nails through boards with a bit of camo. Oh, and don’t forget to contaminate the nails, caltrops, etc. just because you care.

This year, it was tires and trucks. What will it be next year? The trick is to find out where there are logistical issues and go at it from every level. For regular forces, it might be sending some arty to a supply depot, a civilian warehouse, or wherever a supply of that unobtainium is being stored. Special forces can go after smaller concentrations or, better yet, source materials or production if within reach. Irregular forces can make them use up whatever it is. In the process, all can sap the will of the opposing/occupying troops and security, and hopefully make as many of them as possible combat ineffective in the process.

In the case of the Ukraine, troops that can’t move can’t ride to the rescue when other troops are attacked. They also go from being a potential strike force to a target. Any time and any way you can immobilize any number of troops, it’s a good thing. Remember the deliberate flooding that forced the Russians off the roads???

This winter, I’m going to be watching to see what is done to take advantage of the weather. A cold and wet troop is a miserable troop. A cold and wet troop without the proper gear or working gear is dead in a Ukrainian or Russian winter. If not dead, they are a medical case. Either way, combat ineffective. I really would not be surprised if the partisans/irregulars find some unique and innovative ways to make the winter even worse for the Russian troops.

Remember, the key is to out think the enemy, to make them react and to keep them off balance. Getting creative on the micro scale has effects far out of proportion to the size of the action.

I had thought about adding one more thing, proposed by the late Bryan Gibson, bit maybe it will fit better tomorrow or in a post on its own.

Preparedness Pays: Draft Introduction

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Definitely a draft. Not happy with some words and phrasing, but it’s a start. Feel free to make suggestions but remember it’s the introduction, not the book. Details come later. Unless it’s a detail that will hook a reader. 🙂

Into every life some rain must fall. True, but there is no reason real or metaphorical rain that comes with the vagaries of life should be more than a nuisance. With a bit of preparation, “everyday disasters” become annoyances, and true disasters become something that you can handle.

Practical preparedness is something that should be a part of your lifestyle, rather than in addition to it. In the most basic sense, it is simply making sure you have what you need and use in everyday life so that you can handle the unexpected. It is not hard or complicated, it is not time consuming, and it is not (necessarily) expensive. It’s something that you can start small and build up as you go along — unless you’ve not done anything and the emergency is upon you.

Let’s start with some basics that will be covered in more detail in the pages to follow. Unless you want to make it that way, practical preparedness is not complicated or hard. Yes, there are an almost infinite number of possible disasters and if you try to focus on them, you’re not going anywhere because you will get overwhelmed. Instead, consider the following:

At the most basic level, there are only three items that can be impacted by any disaster large or small: people, places, and things. Guess what? Within each category, there are only two or three things that can happen to each of them. That’s a lot easier to deal with than an almost infinite number of disasters.

Time consuming? No, not really, though if you get into things you can put as much time and money into it as you like. In both cases, the time and money you put into it is far less than the cost of not being prepared. If you truly do incorporate it into your lifestyle, it becomes for most days a matter of a few minutes a day.

Expensive? That depends. In terms of preparedness for day-to-day emergencies, it’s easily within most budgets as the resources needed are truly everyday things. They are things you would or should have around anyway, and most of what you are doing is changing some types and quantities. That said, the more thoroughly you prepare, the more you can spend. Nice thing is, some of those expenses might be deductible and there may be low-cost/no-cost options for some things.

The thing is, the cost of not being prepared is always higher than the cost of being prepared. It could be that not being prepared could mean being late for work or even missing work; it could mean damage to your home; or, it could mean an unplanned expense. Being prepared could mean not missing work; it might mean lower utilities for your home; or, it could mean catching a problem before it becomes a problem.

How? Well, that jug of water might let you rinse off if the water goes off as you are in the shower. It can even let you bathe at need. Meantime, it’s available for use in making coffee, cooking, watering the plants, or other day-to-day activities.

Weather proofing your home not only lowers utility costs, it protects you against a range of emergencies from insect entry to keeping fallout outside. It adds to your home’s value.

Doing routine checks of your car, household machines, furnace, and other items is always a good idea. In this case, it might mean you catch that oil leak early before it becomes a major and expensive unplanned repair.

Practical preparedness can also open the door to new hobbies and family activities, and enrich your life. It all depends on you and how you want to approach things to find what works best for you and your circumstances. There are no magic lists of products or foolproof plans here, for one-size-fits all responses never work.

What is in here is a framework for thinking, planning, and then executing what works best for you. It is about making your life better and safer.

So, put aside the television and movie stereotypes. Put aside all the concerns over complexity and expense. Take a breath, a sip of beverage of your choice, and let’s start a mental journey you may find surprisingly fun and rewarding on many different levels.