Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 33

Chapter 33
"Keep your feet under your shoulders, Fae. Maintain your balance." Fae stepped back from August, her red hair damp with sweat. Each held crudely shaped sticks, wasters, modeled to simulate the swords they used in real fights. Fae had one in each hand, crossed in front of her, while August held a single waster relaxed at his side.
"The two swords Claire gave you when we left are similar to katanas, but with shorter blades. For someone your size, they are easier to manage."
The morning sun was high in the sky, already warming the earth. The dry, hard earth was flat and mostly free of debris. The warm wind blew from the east as their lessons progressed. "How about if I just attack you like I'd attack zombies?" Fae grinned at her teacher.
"A haphazard technique works fine against zombies or dumb animals, Fae, but not against other trained warriors. Learning to fight the coordinated attacks of skilled fighters is much better." He smiled at her. "So do you want to spar more, or shall we hit the road? The cycle finished charging a while ago."
Fae didn't answer, her eyes unfocused. She raised her face and sniffed the air, which now came from the west. "August, there's something coming this way." She cocked her head. "No, that's not right. Some things. And they're coming fast."
August belted his holster on. He checked the magazine. Fae strapped on her two swords in sheaths that crossed on her back.
"You know," she said, "I can draw these swords pretty well, but putting them back is a chore."
"You'll get used to it. After a few hundred times, it will be second nature." He reached over and pulled Ted's heavy club from the saddlebags on the cycle, hefting it. "I like this thing. I'm going to have to make myself one."
"It was nice of Ted to loan it to you." Fae drew one sword, and clumsily slid it back into the sheath, her face a picture of concentration.
"Yeah, he did say he'd come get it if I didn't bring it back," August said.
Fae looked at August. "They're here."
He nodded back at her. "I know. I can hear them now, too."
August fingered the butt of his pistol. "I think I need to keep the ammo for whatever Sam has planned in Vegas." He pulled binoculars from the cycle's bags.
Fae's eyebrows rose. "You think Vegas is a trap?"
August grunted. "Did you read the note we found? I know it's a trap." He shook his head, his hair moving across his shoulders. "Vegas is always a trap," he muttered.
"I can hear you, you know."
About a half dozen small dots appeared to the west of them, rapidly increasing in size. Fae watched the scantily clad human forms running toward them. August grunted again, looking at them through the binoculars. "Persistents. They are faster than normal zombies, Fae. Some are smarter than others. If they pause before they attack, then we know they plan their attacks."
"Well, they smell like regular zombies." Fae squinted, looking toward the oncoming creatures. "They dress like zombies, too. I count seven."
"I agree. I wish I'd brought my bow." He sighed. "Well, I can't carry everything." August put the binoculars back and moved away from the cycle. Fae followed.
Fae had both swords out, held loosely at her sides. She wrinkled her small nose. "What is it about zombies that make them go out of their way to attack us, anyway?"
"I don't know. I guess if they didn't fight us we wouldn't have much of a story to tell." Fae looked at August from the corner of her eye and shrugged.
The seven zombies moved as fast as vampires, their limbs a blur as their loping gait drew them closer to their prey. Fae and August stood a few yards apart, facing the oncoming group. When the zombies were within a dozen feet they paused, forming a semicircle facing the two humans.
"Well, Fae, that means..." Fae cut August's lecture short with a loud yell as she rushed the zombies, her swords slicing into the two on the right side, decapitating the first and slicing the second one in half at the waist. The blood flying through the air did not even hit the ground before she moved toward the next one. The others moved away from the fierce attack, eyeing the red-haired demon slicing at them.
August came up behind the zombies as they moved backward from Fae's attack. His short club crushed the skull of one as he swung forward. On the backswing, he swung toward another. It dodged, the club catching it on the left shoulder, turning its arm into a useless appendage.
The zombies backed away from the two attackers, their movements confused. Fae moved forward and cut the head from the one with the crushed arm. She and August stood side by side again, now facing three zombies, who eyed them warily.
"I was going to say they might move strategically," commented August. Fae laughed and shot forward toward the zombies again, her twin swords killing another.
One of the other two zombies slashed at Fae with lightning speed, ripping through the sleeve on her shirt. August shot forward and sliced its arm off, the blood pouring slowly from the open wound. The two zombies stumbled and ran back the way they came, disappearing into the distance, the armless one not slowed by its injury.
"Hey, look at this, August!" Fae felt along her torn sleeve to the skin beneath. "They couldn't even scratch me!"
August examined her arm. "Hemanth did say his skin was tougher. I see some light scratch marks, and those don't even look like they took off any skin." He touched her bare upper arm, wrapping his massive hands around it and squeezing."Your skin feels normal to me. Does it hurt?"
Fae grinned, barely able to keep from jumping up and down. "Not a bit! So I'm like a superhero or something. I can't even get hurt!" She danced around August. "I don't even need combat gear!" A giggle escaped her. "Hey, I could fight naked!"
August rolled his eyes. "Well, I suppose so, but I'd rather you didn't."
Fae tore the tattered shirt from one of the dead zombies and cleaned her swords. "Well, it would sure distract my enemies!"
August laughed as he bent down and used dirt to scrub the club clean. "Well, the human ones, I suppose. That's an interesting strategy, Fae."
Fae replaced her swords in her scabbards. "Strategy, shmategy. I say they come at us, we kill them." Fae laughed again. "Simple is better."
August shook his head as they moved toward the cycle. He looked at the dead zombies on the ground. "Well," he chuckled, "you might be right, but please keep your clothes on!"

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master,
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much, 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

By Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). 

I kept this posted above my desk at college for years, and cannot recall how many times my tired eyes stared at it, hoping it would give me insight into my life. I don't know that it did, but here it is for someone else who might want to try.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cleaning Guns

I worked with a guy at Boeing that really knows a lot about guns. This is how he says to clean them, which is a lot simpler than I ever thought.

I had to post this so I would not forget it.

Thanks Brian O'Keeffe. You know your guns!

Well, this is going to sound funny. 

But while most people will use the usual gun cleaners like Hopps or Outers or Gunslick from all the gun shops & sporting goods store, I learned from a Master Armourer Gunsmith video (yes, it was VHS) that Simple Green works best, followed by warm water rinse & dried thoroughly, followed by a good oiling.

Word of caution here, do not mix dissimilar metals/finishes while immersed in Simple Green (I did not learn this from a video or reading, but by experience), Simple Green is slightly caustic and will cause dissimilar metals to react enough to mess up a gun finish when the dissimilar metal parts touch!

I have used this method of cleaning with great success on my semiautos & revolvers & black powder guns.

A Blessed Life

My thoughts interspersed with the Raw Notes from the sermon on Sunday, 27-November-2016.
The sermon encompassed Psalm 1. Here's the entire passage:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The world can be an ugly place. Wickedness abounds, and we see evil all around us. Just look at the news of the woman kidnapped for three weeks and finally returned to her family, beaten, bruised and with her hair shaved off. As bad as the incident was, the ugly responses of people toward the family also astound me.

God calls us to a higher standard, one I cannot honestly meet all the time.

Yet, it's not what can I get, but what can I give? Sometimes it is because of ignorance. Some have never heard the name of Jesus. I do not expect the brightest of humanity to glow with Christianity, for I know many kind people who are not Christian. Yet, my Christian beliefs call me to give to others, and I do expect that from Christians, and I don't always find it.

If you say, "I know I want the blessed life, but I'm trapped."
Rom 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the Christian message. Surrender your life to Jesus. Jesus needs to be more than a wise teacher that lived 2000 years ago.

Delight is in the law of the Lord.

It's about others. That might be too big for some people. It might be too big for most people. Here's the beauty of it. Choose only one other, and make your life about serving that person. Choose Jesus, live your life to serve Him, and you will find yourself serving a host of others.

Zach (the Pastor) has a theory with hula hoops.
It does not say those who know the law, nor those who talk about the law. It says you will delight in the law of the Lord.
Four possible hoops to be stuck in:
  1. Some want to argue with God, fight against the law of the Lord. Jonah, at the first.
  2. Ignore the law of the Lord. Jonah below decks in the boat.
  3. Accept the law of the Lord. You fought and lost, so you accept it.
  4. DELIGHT in the law of the Lord.

What does DELIGHT look like?
On His law he meditates day and night. Read your Bible! We are and become what we think. If we meditate - think - about things that are holy, we tend to move toward doing the things that are holy.

You know it's true. You get in the most trouble when you think about doing something bad. You ponder it, roll it around in your mind - and then do it. Here's a hint. Stop the thought before it becomes a deed.

You can become blessed, a tree planted next to a stream of water. Connected to life. Yields its fruit in its season, its leaf does not wither, and all that he does prospers.

John 10:10 I have come to give you life, and to give it abundantly.

Some people don't want to be a blessing - they simply want to be blessed.

The most blessed people I know are the ones who seek to be blessings. Aim for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 32

Chapter 32
Maddie was glad to get out of the Vegas sun as they stepped into the cold interior of the small building to the north of the Bellagio. From the outside, it looked like a simple maintenance building. The door opened to a room where old plastic chairs sat against the white paint. An abandoned grey desk with a beat up swivel chair sat near the single door in the opposite wall.
Sam remained sullen and silent.
"That's quite the shiner." Maddie grinned at Sam.
He scowled at her and walked to the door, opening it toward him. A stainless steel elevator faced them. Sam pushed the single button.
"Your fault," he growled. "Agnes and I were doing fine until you piped up." The elevator opened and Sam motioned for Maddie to enter, following her. He reached over and pressed the single button on the elevator panel.
"So you think. While you were taking your little nap on the floor Agnes and I had a nice chat. I let her know what you've been up to." Maddie looked around at the stainless box, noting the plastic panel in the corner that concealed a camera. She furtively tested the handcuffs as the elevator doors opened on the new floor.
Sam touched his bruised eye. "Well, I have to say my girl has quite the punch," he said proudly. He glared at her. "I wish I'd shot you in the desert."
Maddie walked down the hallway, noting the pristine white concrete walls and reinforced doors on either side. "If I don't get the antidote to Jed in time, you'll wish you shot me." Her voice was low and intense. A shiver went down Sam's spine in spite of himself.
"Jed will be fine. He'll shake it off." Sam cleared his throat. "There isn't an antidote for the poison."
Maddie stopped walking, staring at Sam. "You played me? You lied to me?"
Sam shrugged again, glancing away from her. "Well, that shouldn't surprise you." He looked up and glared back at her. "And you're the one to talk! What's with the derringer trick?"
Maddie couldn't help grinning. "Yeah, that was a good one." Her face sobered. "But make no mistake, Sam. If Jed doesn't survive that poison, I'll hunt you to the ends of the Earth. Nothing will stop me from finding you and killing you." She snarled at him. "And it won't be slow dying either."
Sam growled back at her. "Yeah, if you ever get out of here. It's the doorway at the end." He pointed at a solid-looking metal door at the end of the hall, the one with a doorknob instead of an electronic key slot.
"So what are these other doors?" Maddie indicated the side doors as she moved forward.
Sam shrugged. "Holding cells, mostly. Empty right now, I think, but you never know. This whole place gives me the creeps."
"We can agree on that, Sam," Maddie said.
Sam reached for the doorknob, pausing. He looked at Maddie. "Whatever you do, don't stare. The Doc is real touchy about people staring."
Sam turned the knob and moved aside for Maddie to enter. She walked into the tiny room, dominated by another grey military desk, this one covered with papers and two computer monitors. Maddie heard the whine of a computer hard disk. A short and very fat man, perhaps in his late twenties, sat behind the desk, typing on a keyboard one finger at a time.
"Just a minute," he muttered, "my operating system is acting up again."
His white lab coat was dotted with an orange powder. The green t-shirt he wore had a guitar and drums on it, with the name of an obscure band Maddie never heard of. His white skin glistened under the fluorescent light as he typed, his thick glasses reflecting the screen.
Maddie waited a second, trying not to stare. "You don't look like what I imagined, Doctor."
Sam snickered, and the fat man hit the enter key with a flair and stood up. "Oh," he said, his eyes behind the thick glasses traveling from Maddie's feet to her head, pausing appropriately for an adolescent male. "I'm not Doctor Davenfeld." He tried to puff his chest out but the fat jiggled. "I'm Gary, the Doctor's main assistant. His hands, to be more precise."
Sam interrupted, irritated. "I think the Doctor is expecting me, Gary."
"He's expecting you." He pointed at Sam, his face grim. "But he isn't expecting her." He pointed at Maddie. "That's not who you're supposed to bring, Sam."
"So you're not the Doctor." Maddie's voice was quiet.
Gary's face reddened. "I see you staring at me," he accused, scowling at Maddie. "Just because I have a glandular condition doesn't make me a freak."
"I wasn't staring, Gary. My little sister had the same problem, so I understand the pain you have to endure from people who judge you by your looks." She inclined her head toward Sam.
Gary face brightened. He self-consciously wiped his palm on the back of his crumpled cargo shorts, holding it out for Maddie to shake. "I'm Gary. I'm the Doctor's assistant. I help him with his experiments."
Maddie reached forward with her manacled hands. Shaking Gary's hand was like holding a bag full of warm putty. "I'm Maddie, and I don't want to be one of his experiments."
Gary dropped his fat hands to his side. "Oh, you won't be. I'm afraid those experiments failed, so the Doctor isn't interested in more women vampires." He raised his eyebrows. "You are a vampire like the others, right?"
Maddie nodded then addressed Sam, her eyebrows knit together. "So, if the Doctor doesn't want to see me, I guess I should be going." She held her hands out, handcuffs raised.
"Not a chance. He'll still want to see you, I'm sure." Sam ignored her hands.
"No, no he doesn't." Gary shook his head, his face apologetic. "When you sent word you were coming he said some bad things. He said she's only another, uhm, woman… well, he didn't use that word…" Gary's face reddened as he glanced at Maddie.  "And he doesn't care that you brought her here. He wants the big guy. He wants her…" he pointed at Maddie, then realized his forefinger was orange and wiped it on his shorts. "He wants her put in the same building as the other ones."
"Oh, c'mon, Gary. She's not like the others…" Sam gestured with his hands.
Gary interrupted. "To Dr. Davenfeld she is. Like I said, he's not interested in that research any longer." He lowered his voice, whispering to Sam. "It was a dead end. He's pretty angry about it, too. I wouldn't mention it if you see him."
"Well, at least let me talk to him and explain…" Sam started to push to the inner door, but Gary stepped in front of him, blocking him.
"No, that won't work. Dr. Davenfeld was very specific. He doesn't want to see you until you have the big guy – uhm, March."
Sam sighed. "August. It's August, Gary."
Gary's eyebrows raised and his eyes widened. "Really? No, that's not right because it's getting cooler outside…"
"The big guy's name is August!" Sam shouted. Maddie could hear his teeth grinding and a low growl starting in his throat. A long moment passed and Sam took a deep breath. "Okay, the Doc will want to know that I found the Indian that helped free August in the first place."
Gary shuffled his feet, looking down at the floor. He looked up at Sam. "Wait here. I'll be right back."
Gary stepped through the door. It slammed closed behind him.
Sam sat on the edge of the desk, arms crossed, his face like a thundercloud. He tapped his foot and bit his lower lip.
Maddie leaned against the wall, her hands in front of her. She watched Sam, saying nothing.
The door swung open and Gary stepped back into the room, pushing his thick glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. He looked at Sam. "Dr. Davenfeld isn't interested in the Indian, either. Not anymore. He says bring him the big guy." He shrugged. "Sorry, Sam."
"Fine! I'll go make arrangements to get August." He pushed his right forefinger into Gary's flabby chest. "The big guy. And then I'll bring him here, so be ready."
Sam turned to leave. Gary's voice cracked as he added "Uh, Sam! You better make it soon. He's having a bad couple weeks and now you're sort of the current…"
Sam waved his hands in the air. "The current what? Target of opportunity?" He opened the door and pushed Maddie back into the hallway. "I should never have come back," he muttered, closing the door behind him.
As they walked back to the elevator, Maddie looked at Sam and smiled sweetly. "Not going according to plan, is it?"
"Shut up," growled Sam.
Maddie pointed back toward the closed door. "So what's with Gary? He doesn't seem too bright."
Sam shrugged. "The Doctor needs help doing experiments and Gary seems perfect for the job. I think the Doc keeps him around because Gary has absolutely no imagination and isn't a threat to him at all. And even if he isn't creative, Gary has the most amazing memory…" Sam stopped talking and nearly stopped walking, his mind suddenly elsewhere.
"Well, Gary is the fattest man I've seen in years. I didn't even know there were any fat people left in our post-apocalyptic world." Maddie paused. "That's why you didn't want me to stare?" she asked curiously."His condition?"
Sam snorted. "Are you kidding me? Do you know how much junk food was in Vegas when the Z virus hit? I think Gary found it all and squirreled it away. He has his own warehouse full of the stuff. Rumor has it he also has a refrigerated warehouse full of frozen pizzas and ice cream." He shook his head. "No, I didn't want you to stare at Dr. Doctor. He hates that."
"Why? Is he fat, too?"
Sam said nothing for a moment. "Something like that. If you ever meet him, don't stare."
Maddie entered the small elevator. "So that orange powder on Gary's coat?"
"Some sort of cheese puffs, I'm sure. Those things last forever." The elevator moved smoothly upward. "What was that about your sister?"
"A lie. She was as thin as a rail. Died in the first month." Maddie paused, looking at Sam. "Why don't you release me, Sam? It's obvious your Doctor isn't going to let you go. He's more likely to kill you." The elevator door opened and they got out, the dusty, empty steel desk looking lonely in the small room.
Sam sat on the edge of the desk, looking at Maddie. "I could. Maybe I should take Agnes and go elsewhere." His eyes lost their focus for a moment. "We might be able to pull it off, even though the Doctor keeps us under observation." Sam shook his head. "It doesn't matter, now, Maddie. I'm pretty sure August is coming to get you. Once I deliver him, the Doc will give me what I want and let us leave. And if he doesn't, he'll still be distracted by August, so we'll have a better chance of escaping this town." For a moment, Sam's face looked sad. "I used to love this town, and I had a real good thing going for a while."
Maddie sighed. "Too bad, Sam. I think this will end badly for you."
Sam's gaze hardened. "Come on. It's time for you to meet the mothers of Tomás's children." He opened the outer door, and the blazing sun blinded them for a moment. "Then I'm rid of you, and glad of it."

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Thursday, November 17, 2016

Super Moon, Super Camera

A famous photographer once went to dinner with some friends."You take such good photos," said the hostess. "You must have a fabulous camera." The photographer smiled. "I do," he replied. "And dinner was great. You must have some wonderful pots and pans."

Yeah, I stole that from somewhere, but the eye of the photographer is as important as the tools. However, in the world of photography, the camera can make a huge difference.

Darling just got her new Nikon Coolpix P900 with an 83x digital zoom. Yeah, that's a lot of camera, and I can't recommend it highly enough. (Full disclosure: that's an affiliate link)

So here are some pictures of the SuperMoon, one from the night before (Nov 13, 2016) and one from the night of the full moon (Nov 14, 2016). Because we live in the USA, the moon was a little bigger the night before.

Nov 13 - love the view of the craters

Nov 14

FYI, this was the closest the moon has been to the Earth since January 26, 1948 - and it won't be this close again until November 25, 1934. We had a close one in May of 2012, but we didn't have this camera!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Remembering Tim

This was my final post on O-Dark-Thirty in February, 2015. Though I thought I wouldn't continue the blog, I found I wanted to. Maybe I needed to. And Tim would want me to keep writing. This one is a memorial of sorts.

In the depths of depression and with a broken heart, my youngest brother Tim killed himself on November 16, 2014, two years ago. That was a previous post. Much about his death remains unsaid even after all these years, though my brother David wrote an excellent summary on his blog. The news networks publish headlines when young children are bullied and kill themselves. When it happens to an adult, and happens because of political and government bullies, the case simply fades away on some obscure page of the news.

Still, depression killed my baby brother. I miss him a lot, some days so sharply that my heart breaks anew.

If you are depressed and you feel you have no option except to end your own life, I want you to know something.

Please don't.

Hundreds of people packed Tim's funeral. Any of them would have reached out to help him if they knew he was hurting so badly. Hundreds of people loved him and showed up to say goodbye. Even now, two years later, friends think of him and miss him. I am not the only one.

Tim was not a perfect man. I remember when we were boys living in Washington State he once took a hammer and smashed the headlamps on the car. That was simply one of the sordid tales of his youth. I have others, as do my two other brothers. My brother David posted a funny bit about the chicken coop and another about blowing up a hot wheels car.

Tim was not perfect, but he was a good man. The world is a lesser place with his absence.

I miss you, baby brother. I miss your smile, your laugh, your encouragement and your empathy. And that's all I can say.

And I'll sing "Strawberry Roan" for you, one last time.

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 31

Chapter 31
The residents of Selah Ranch gathered in the main common room to share information after a fitful night of sleep. The hot fires from the corpses burned throughout the night and were now down to cleansed embers in the bottom of the pit. The faint smell of smoke drifted everywhere, even in the main house. August listened to their stories, of the infected rats and of the visit to New Pueblo and its leader Tomás. His face darkened as they mentioned Jason and the other ex-residents of Selah Ranch in the zombie attack, but he said nothing. Then he told the story of Fort Collins and the werewolf virus. "And that's what I know." August looked around the room. He pointed at Ted. "The virus made you immune to the original Z Virus, but you should be none the worse for it, according to Holden and his people." August looked at Shelly. "It looks like you have the whole werewolf thing going on. Without the serum I injected you with, you'd be running around the forest now."
Claire looked at Shelly and August. "I'll radio Fort Collins and talk more to Frank. I want to make sure I can synthesize the werewolf serum. And they might have more information now that they've had time to study Hemanth."
"In the meantime, it's prudent if we restrict your movements and keep an eye on how you're doing," August said to Shelly.
"But if you do go all hound-dog on us, we'll hunt you down and cure you again." Nancy looked around the small group as they nodded. "Just makin' sure we can do that."
Ted spoke up, his voice weak. "I need a t-shirt that says 'I survived the zombies and all I got was this lousy virus.' How's that sound?"
"I'll take one, Ted." Nancy reached over and patted his hand, grimacing as her ribs shifted.
"Watch those ribs, Nancy. At least two ribs are broken, and a few more are cracked. Take it easy for a few weeks."
Ted smiled at Nancy. "I guess we'll skip the t-shirts. Maybe we can watch some videos."
August looked at Claire. "So what's with Jed? You said he was sick."
Claire shrugged. "I don't know, August. I'm hoping Lone Wolf can figure it out when he catches up with him."
"The four-wheeler can go about eighty miles, but the gas cans are missing, too. If Jed took them, that will double his distance. If they went straight to Vegas over the mountains, and the roads are clear, it might take Lone Wolf a few days on horseback to catch him."
Claire's eyebrows furrowed. "I hope he lasts that long, August. Honestly, he looked pretty bad."
"Jed's tough. Always was." August sat back in his chair. "I can head to Vegas to get Maddie back. With the new motorcycle, I can travel during the dark and let it charge for a few hours each morning as I catch some sleep. I can be in Vegas in two days. I'll be a day behind Sam and Maddie."
"Lone Wolf mentioned that Vegas is a bad place for you, August," said Claire, concern written on her face.
August took a deep breath and exhaled. "Perhaps, but that doesn't matter. Someone has to go, and I'm the logical choice."
"Why?" asked Claire. "Because you're a man and I'm a woman?"
August laughed and grinned at her. "No, because you're the doctor and I'm not. You're needed here."
"Oh. Well, that makes sense," said Claire, mollified.
"I can go, too. Your cycle isn't huge, but it would carry me, if I went, right?" Everyone turned to look at Fae. "I don't weigh much. And I owe Sam for the virus that killed Momma Linda." Fae's eyes glinted as she said Sam's name.
August looked at Fae, opening his mouth to object, but Claire's small shake of her head stopped him. "Yes, it would carry us both. That's a good idea. I don't know what we'll run into in Vegas, but I doubt it will be good."
Nancy coughed and looked at the group with tears in her eyes. "We have time for a funeral for Linda, right?" She looked at everyone. "She deserves it. She saved my life. She saved me from my own husband and daughters. She was a sister to me."
Fae spoke up. "And she was a mother to me." She smiled tenderly at Nancy. "So are you, Momma Nancy." She looked at August, her chin held high. "I already dug the grave, on the hillside, under a sycamore. She can see the river from there."
"We bury our own," August said solemnly. He looked around the room. "We can have the funeral and leave right after that. Does that work?"
August looked at Fae. "Bring your weapons. You'll need them."

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Peter - the Famous Failure

Peter the Apostle failed.

When Jesus called him from the boat, Peter sank.

When the Romans captured Jesus, Peter denied him.

When Jesus died on the cross, Peter was absent.

Life is hard and we all fail.

Look again. 

Of all the apostles on the boat, Peter is the one who stepped out. Jesus lifted him from the water when he sank. He tried, failed and grabbed the hand of the Redeemer.

As the Romans beat Jesus, Peter tried to be there. When confronted, he failed, as Jesus foretold. When he failed this time, he went off and wept.

As Jesus cried "It is finished," Peter stayed hidden, probably still weeping at the loss of his friend and Master. Peter did not understand.

Look once more.

When the women told the disciples that the tomb was empty, Peter and John ran to see. Peter stooped down and entered the empty tomb.

What do you think he did then?

He searched. He prayed. He dared to hope that a loving God, Jesus, would have mercy on him and forgive him

That's exactly what happened.

No matter how badly you have failed, ask God for help and guidance. Search for Him and His forgiveness. You will find it.

Your life will never be the same.

Why I cancelled The Bauman Letter

I signed up for The Bauman Letter, edited by Ted Bauman and read it for a few months. His father is a well-known member of The Sovereign Society and Ted contributed for years.

I like Ted's writing style and read his letter for the nuggets of information I could glean. One month he recommended a company in Australia for holding my gold. If I had a hundred grand in gold, maybe I'd go that route. Then again, maybe I'd bury it in the back yard like the old Romans.

I cancelled his newsletter after reading his October issue.

Ted posted ten pages of glowing prose for the 1291 Group of the Americas. I was impressed by his report and thought this might be a company I could park my IRA with and not worry about it. (We've been burned by local investment advisors who lost large chunks of our investment and still took their overly fair share of fees, so we're hyper-cautious.)

Ted especially praised Erika Nolan, the CEO of this prestigious firm.

Ted forgot to mention that Erika Nolan worked for The Sovereign Society for sixteen years. Wouldn't you mention that an ex-colleague runs an organization like this? The other two partners in the firm worked together elsewhere before joining Erika at 1291 Americas.

Oh, and their office is in the Bahamas. They specialize in ultra-high-net-worth individuals. According to Credio, 1291 Americas has an average investment account of $2 million - and a total managed investment of $4 million. Doing the math, that means they have two clients.

Thanks, Ted, but I decided your advice just doesn't apply to me. You seem to have no concrete connection to the average joe on the street who needs the investment help. Bye-bye.

Why is it that all the financial newsletters seem to think everyone is a flippin' millionaire in the USA? Keep a hundred thousand in gold. Buy a few overseas properties for three hundred grand apiece. Invest in paintings or stamps or wine or some other collectible. Get another passport so you can escape the US in time of need. That means buy another house in a foreign country and qualify for the Visa there, which is tons more money!

Folks, can't you give advice to normal Americans that live from paycheck to paycheck, or to old retirees (like us) that live on our savings? I guess not.

The news of the imminent collapse of the US economy is posted everywhere on the World Wide Web. Porter Stansberry is a fun read. If you sign up for anything on his web site you will be bombarded with advertisements for investment newsletters of all kinds - all of which belong to his huge group. He's a rich man off people buying his investment letters, and he wants to keep it that way.

Honestly, I have subscribed to half of them over the years and cancelled every one of them. The way they do their math is crazy. When I showed a gain of about 6% on their recommendations, which isn't bad, they reported it as a gain of 16%. I blame the new math in our schools.

I like to read Bill Bonner's take on the US as well. His major warning of the Deep State running this country rings true. I'm not sure I disagree with him.

Of course, I'm not sure about those videos and photos showing alien structures on the Moon, either.

At least Bill is honest about it all. He writes from his wine farm in France and his cattle ranch in the mountains of Argentina and lets us know what the average American will face in the frightening economic future of the USA.

So I am concerned over the state of the US economy, and I have been for a while. Darling and I even published a book in 2013, Preparing for the Fiscal Cliff. It's free for Amazon Unlimited customers, and only 99 cents to buy the e-book. You'd think it was outdated, but the issues still remain, kicked down the road by a Congress that does little to support the ordinary citizens of the USA.

I keep reading the newsletters. Darling and I visited Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama this year to see if we might want to relocate, but we think not. I'll give more details on that in another post.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 30

Chapter 30
Lone Wolf was a few hours behind Jed and he wasn't gaining on the four-wheeler Jed took from the barn. Jed didn't know that Sam was heading to Vegas with Maddie, but Sam's trail was clear to follow.
Lone Wolf leaned forward and patted the neck of the bay he rode, whispering in his childhood Ojibwe language. "You're doing fine, Gizhii. We can catch them if we are slow and steady. The boy will need our help, I think." Gizhii's ears twitched and he exhaled sharply, shaking his head. The two of them broke into a fast walk through the trees, careful to avoid low branches as they followed the trail.
Lone Wolf barely touched the bitless bridle as they moved through the forest. He scanned for the passage of the two vehicles, pleased to note that Jed rarely deviated from the path set by the larger buggy as it passed among the timber. Lone Wolf still wore his black combat gear, though he also had saddlebags with more clothing and some food. His bow and arrows were within arm's reach.
In the full dark, Lone Wolf set up a small camp, leaving Gizhii to stand near him. "You keep watch, Gizhii," said Lone Wolf. "Wake me if you need me."
The bay snorted and bumped his head against Lone Wolf's chest. Lone Wolf pulled a carrot from his pocket, took a bite and held the rest out for Gizhii to finish. "We should leave as soon as we can see the trail again, my friend." Lone Wolf stretched out on the pile of leaves he gathered and pulled his wool blanket over his shoulders. He left his boots on as he fell asleep.
The four-wheeler sputtered to a stop, the last bit of gasoline gone. Jed sat back, closing his eyes. Maddie got farther and farther away as he sat in the small vehicle, but he couldn't muster the strength to get out.
Coughing racked his body again, white bursts of light appearing behind his eyelids. When the cough subsided, Jed tried to take a deep breath. He failed, but forced himself to climb from his seat and move forward. He didn't know why Sam took Maddie, but he was pretty sure where they were going - Sam's hometown: Vegas.
The world disappeared into a small circle as Jed put one foot in front of the other. Head down, he watched his boots scrape along the rough road as he moved. His breath came in gasps.
His right foot stepped into a pothole and Jed stumbled, falling to the side of the road. The long, brown grass covered him as he rolled a dozen feet down the incline. Jed looked into the night sky, his vision blurring.
"Maddie," he whispered. Blackness swept over him.

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 29

Chapter 29
Claire slid her swords into her scabbards and looked at Fae. "How are you feeling?"
"Good." Fae giggled. "No - great actually!" She looked around, her smile wide. "Are you sure there aren't any more. They move so slow…"
Claire rubbed her temples. "No, Fae, you're moving fast." She looked around at the corpses strewn up and down the street as the coppery smell of blood filled her nose. "We need to get them into a pit, Fae, and burn the bodies."
Fae's smile faded. "Oh, that doesn't sound nearly as much fun as fighting them."
"You can use the backhoe to dig the hole." Claire pointed to the barn. "It's in there." Claire pivoted to look toward the barn, panic crossing her face. "Oh…" She started to run, but a voice stopped her.
"They aren't there." Lone Wolf walked up the road, skirting the bodies, a bloody tomahawk in each hand. Spots of blood covered the black combat gear he wore. He pointed back the way he came. "We have another dozen or so down the road, around the bend." He smiled at Fae. "That's a good look for you."
She grinned at him. "Isn't it? I was trying to look like Claire, so I grabbed these swords from the wall."
"I will teach you to use them, if you'd like."
Fae beamed. "I'd love that!"
"What do you mean they aren't there?" Claire interrupted. "Sam and Maddie headed for the barn a while ago."
"And drove through the woods at a high rate of speed." Lone Wolf shook his head. "I have no idea where they're going, but we need to finish cleaning up here first. Maddie can take care of herself."
"So I can use the backhoe? I always wanted to drive the backhoe…" Fae started walking toward the barn.
"Dig the hole in the clearing that way, Fae. It has to be a big hole. This is a lot of bodies." Claire looked around sadly. "When I'm fighting," she muttered, "they seem like enemies, but they're just people. Dead people."
Fae's smile disappeared and a look of shock crossed her young features. She stared at the bodies for a few moments. "I didn't think of that," she whispered, her face pale.
Lone Wolf's strong hand touched her shoulder. "Now we need to lay them to rest, burn their bodies. Their spirits were gone long ago."
"Not so long ago as that, Lone Wolf." Claire moved toward one of the bodies. "This was Terrie." Claire scowled darkly. "Tomás said she was in New Pueblo."
"Ah." Lone Wolf looked around the massacre site. "And there is Bill. And Jace." His face darkened. "I think Tomás is an evil man," he whispered.
The bunkhouse door opened and Nancy leaned against the doorway. "Hey Lone Wolf. Where've you been?" She smiled weakly at Fae. "I'm glad you're feeling better, Red Sonja."
"Who?" said Fae.
"Never mind," said Nancy. "We have some issues in here."
Lone Wolf and Claire stepped into the bunkhouse. Claire looked around the common room. The faint scent of pine greeted her from the cut branches over the doorway, but she could smell the dirt and blood on her friends also. Ted leaned against the wall, his breath coming in great gasps, blood dripping from a half dozen wounds in his upper body. Shelly's pale face glistened with sweat, her left arm hanging useless by her side. She was limp against the couch, her head back on the middle cushion. Her eyes were dark circles against the pallid grey color of her skin. Nancy, sitting in the chair, could barely keep her eyes open. They heard Fae grinding the gears in the backhoe and driving it to the small clearing to dig the mass burial grave.
"We're lucky we survived this." Claire looked at Lone Wolf. "If we'd been at full strength, this would have been little more than a nuisance battle. Right now..." Claire kneeled next to Shelly, looking into her face. "You need to go lie down," she said to Shelly.
Shelly leaned close to Claire, whispering. "Linda is in her bed. She didn't get scratched or bitten or anything, but she's wiped out. She said to say goodbye. What does that mean?"
Claire's face paled. "Lone Wolf, check on Linda and Jed. I'll try to stitch Ted up here."
Lone Wolf went into the other room. Less than a minute later he was back, squatting down next to Claire. He leaned close and whispered in her ear. Claire's head jerked up and she quit sewing the larger wounds in Ted's chest. Her eyes were wide. "You sure?" she whispered. Lone Wolf nodded.
Nancy's sharp eyes narrowed as she looked at the two of them. "What? What is it?" Nancy struggled to her feet, leaning against the wall as she moved to Linda's bedroom. Her cry of pain echoed through the bunkhouse. Outside, the sound of the backhoe stopped and the door suddenly burst open.
"What is it?" asked Fae, the swords in her hands, her eyes searching the room. "I heard Momma Nancy scream." Nobody answered. Fae looked at their faces and her swords clattered to the wooden floor. She disappeared into Linda's room.
Fae's howl of pain tore through the walls of the bunkhouse, traveling deep into the woods. Far away, the ears of the wolves twitched. They listened to the faint scream as it disappeared into time and they whimpered.
"Where is Jed?" Claire asked Shelly. Tears ran down her face as she finished stitching Ted's wounds.
"I thought he went to one of the rooms," replied Shelly, her eyes closed.
Lone Wolf's strong hands moved over Shelly's left arm. "Hmm." He looked at Shelly. "Fractured humerus. This is going to hurt, Shelly." He gently lifted her to the couch and laid her down. She bit off a scream as Lone Wolf positioned her arm using the couch cushions.
"And it wasn't funny, either," Shelly quipped. Lone Wolf reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a pinch of herbs that he put in Shelly's mouth.
"Chew this," he said. He turned to Claire who bandaged Ted's cuts. "I'll check on Jed. I think he went out the back door."
The late afternoon sun dropped as the backhoe trundled down the roadway and around the bend. Its bright lights illuminated the carnage.
"I thought he said there were a dozen or so," said Fae looking at the devastation.
"I guess twenty is the 'or so' part of that," replied Claire. "These are the last of them, Fae. How are you holding up?"
Fae didn't smile. "I'm okay." She looked at Claire. "I'm not tired, if that's what you're asking. Except..." Fae easily lifted the parts of a large man's body and put them in the trailer attached to the backhoe. "... except they seem like real people right now, don't they? I mean they aren't decayed or anything, just dead, like normal folk."
Claire sighed, her shoulders drooping. "Yes. These were new zombies, Fae. Someone created them to send them here."
Fae growled low in her throat. "You mean Tomás." She worked as she talked.
"We don't know that for sure, Fae." Claire gently lifted the remains of a dismembered woman and put her in the trailer.
"Somebody needs to ask him." Fae's growl increased in volume. She paused after putting a body in the trailer, facing the oncoming road. "Someone's coming."
"What?" Claire stepped off the road, motioning for Fae to do the same. "Get out of the light," she said.
Fae crouched down near some bushes by the road, nearly invisible in the dimming light. Claire stepped near the trunk of a large tree, fading from sight.
The sound of gravel under tires came closer, along with the high-pitched whine of an electric motor, a barely audible sound to most, though Fae heard it clearly. A black and silver motorcycle glided up the roadway, stopping outside the circle of the lights from the backhoe.
"Hello?" August didn't bother trying to be quiet or subtle. "Someone talk to me, and talk to me now."
Fae sprang from the bushes and flew toward August, stopping as he started to draw his knife. "August! It's me! Fae!"
The big man stepped off the cycle and came forward into the circle of light. Fae stepped up to him and hugged him, tears streaming down her face. "We made a dinner and we had a good time and then we got sick and these zombies attacked and I got to fight them because now I'm like Red Somebody who fights great and now we have to burn the bodies and everyone is hurt, except for Maddie and Sam who are both missing...and my Momma Linda, who died…and Jed went after Maddie and Lone Wolf went after Jed…and my Momma Linda is dead, August…" Her body wracked with sobs as she squeezed August tighter.
August had one massive arm around her, holding her tight, the other hand stroking her long red hair. His eyebrows lifted as Claire stepped toward him. "Does that sum it all up?" August asked with concern in his his eyes.
"Well, not quite." Claire stepped forward and wrapped her arms around the two of them. "Jed is sick, too. He took the four-wheeler to follow Sam. Lone Wolf is trailing Jed on horseback. Jed told me to tell you that I'm over four hundred years old and am like you, so I think you have to explain that. We found a note in Sam's room from a Doctor in Las Vegas telling him to kidnap Maddie." Claire hugged them tighter, as tears ran down her face. "And something is wrong with Shelly, besides her broken arm, but I don't know what."
August held them both in a grip strong enough to keep the earth from spinning, his face buried in Claire's hair, his heart beating against his chest. "I guess that about sums it up," Claire whispered as her tears soaked into August's shirt.

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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