Friday, September 27, 2013

Book Review: World War Z

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I read this book for the first time way back when it first came out in 2006. It was sitting on the "new" shelf at Barnes & Nobles and it caught my eye, which is usually how I shop for books.

The book was labeled as "satire" but the back cover made the book seem right up my alley, so I bought it.

I read this entire book in one day. I know many people who review literature say that....but in this case...I really mean it. I read it cover-to-cover in one work day.

It has now become a major movie that millions have seen. I imagine a lot of people went out and saw this movie and then bought the novel.

Here is a brief description of the novel taken from Amazon

The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. World War Z is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

What I like about this book
I pretty much liked everything about this book. Probably the thing that stands out is, despite devoting only a few pages to each "survivor", he develops characters extremely well. Now, it helps that he uses wide ranging nationalities and races, but even in the cases of Americans, he diversifies them so that each account is very different and unique while still maintaining a common theme. This is a unique writing style that makes it very hard to skip anything because of monotony. You have to slow down and reread many sections so that you can understand the difference between the characters and their particular situation.

Fundamentally, the thing I most liked was the thought provoking that this book caused in me. While I have always liked literature and movies in this particular genre, this is the first time that I started to question myself. Much of that is derived from the above point and comparing myself to these people he describes. Would I be "Ready"? Would I understand when the "end" started? Would I have the sense enough to make a move? And, the thought that I really learned from this book: Would I make a move BEFORE everyone else?

A large difference between this novel and other similar works is the additional humanity of "survival of a family" rather than "survival of yourself." It's one of the first works that has stressed how infinitely more difficult it is to prepare yourself AND your family instead of thinking only of yourself.

This novel paints a terrific picture of how the average person doesn't have the wherewithal to know when there is a serious problem, doesn't have the guts to trust their instincts, doesn't the most basic of skills to survive, and doesn't know how far to take things in the worst of situations.

What I don't like about this movie
There isn't anything I dislike about the book itself. What I don't like about it was that it was turned into a watered down movie that, while entertaining, really had ZERO to do with the book. It would have been a perfect opportunity to educate people who generally don't read. Now, I realize that people didn't go see this movie to be educated but to be entertained. But as someone who read the book years ago, this movie came off as a a simple attempt to make a few dollars off of a brand name. The movie could have easily been called anything else and no one would have had any idea that it was derived from this novel.

Why You should buy this book
While it is wildly entertaining, it is also incredibly empowering. It may not give you any additional tools to survive a catastrophe, but it may cause you to realize just how unprepared you are for one, which is infinitely more important. Even as a person who has grown up camping, hunting, fishing, and even prepping, this work still provoked me to reexamine myself. Particularly, that survival isn't just fending for myself, it's fending for my whole family and how that dynamic situations is much harder and much more important.

This book is entertaining and thought provoking while also being very easy to read. I give it 4.5 Stars.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Product Review for Taurus 85PFS .38 Special Composite Frame Revolver

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While talking with my wife about the various shootings that seem to be happening these days, I discovered that she really was not comfortable carrying her Taurus TCP .380, which I reviewed. She did not like the thought of keeping it loaded without a safety.  I didn't like the thought of her having to pull it out of her purse just to chamber a round. I reviewed the TCP about a year ago. Taurus TCP .380 Review

While shopping, I noticed that these Taurus revolvers were on sale for an affordable $329 dollars. I read a few reviews on the spot and decided to purchase it.

Here is what Taurus has to say about their product:
The Protector Polymer in .38 Special +P blends a unique design with modern updates that weighs in at a scant 18.2 ounces. This smart little number draws quickly with a full spur hammer. Just like its cousins it’s a best buy in its size now in a cool new set-up

Model: 85PFS
Finish: Blue
Status: Discontinued
Caliber: .38 SPL +P RATED
Grips: Rubber
UPC: 7-25327-61068-7
Capacity: 5
Weight: 18.2 oz
Barrel Length: 2.5"
Height: 4.4"
Frame: Small
Width: 1.3"
Action: DA/SA
Front Sight: Fixed w/fiber optic (red)
Safety: Taurus Security System,Transfer Bar
Trigger Type: Smooth
Order #: 2-850021PFS
MSRP: $299.00
Rear Sight: Fixed

Initial Thoughts
Initially, I was very concerned with how what the pistol's behavior would be when shooting. Specifically, with it being a composite frame, I was concerned it would be brutal on recoil and vibration. Additionally, I was concerned with the accuracy of such a short barrel. When playing with it, I noticed that the cylinder was fairly stiff and that it prevented free spinning. You could also not play cowboy by slapping the cylinder in and out of the frame. Lastly, while the grips are very comfortable, I have worried about their longevity. But, I have owned my .357 for 2 years and it hasn't had any problems. So far, the .38 hasn't had any problems. But, I LOVED the low weight. I loved the single/double action.

After Further Review
Shooting this gun was extremely surprising and I am happy to report I am completely satisfied with the guns performance. It is easy to shoot and it doesn't beat the shooter. The composite frame and light weight don't effect the behavior. Additionally, accuracy doesn't seem to be negatively impacted by the short barrel and the shooter has the benefit of having excellent sites on this gun from the factor. The double action works great.


  • Very light weight
  • Easy to use
  • Affordable
  • Easy to shoot
  • Accurate
  • Tons of stopping power
  • Without the hammer cocked, the trigger pull is heavy and long
  • While comfortable, the grips give off a "cheap" air
  • The moving pieces are stiff. That isn't a bad thing, but to the casual observer who things revolvers should act like in the movies, they make think the pieces are not aligned or properly manufactured
  • 5 rounds, as opposed to typical CC automatic pistols
Originally I bought this gun to stick in my wife's purse and never see again. But, on the 4th of July, I pulled it out and shot it. It was a ton of fun and now it has made it's way into the range bag any time I head out to shoot. It's hard to beat for the price. My only regret is that I wish I would have bought the .357 instead. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Things Fallout 3 Taught Me About Surviving EOTWAWKI Part 1

I have never been much of a video game player. My mom never let me sit around and play video games as a child. While I did go through a Halo phase while in college, the only real game addiction I ever had was to Fallout 3.

Fallout 3 is a roll playing game/first person shooter that  takes place in the year 2277, over 200 years after the great war. You play a self-styled character who has escaped The Vault and you find yourself in an extremely hostile world of which you are completely unprepared for. How the game goes is now on you. For more information on this awesome game, check out the Fallout Wiki.

I don't know how many hours I logged in this game, and while there is an "official" end of the game, you can play this game forever. There are a finite amount of missions and side quests, but the game is never truly over. I know at one point that I had 40 hours logged and I had completed about a 5 missions. Anyways, while it's just a game and all 100% fictional, there are some very important things to learn from this game on dealing with the post-apocalyptic world. This is on in fun,'s hear some of yours!

  • There is a reason it's called The Wasteland. Traipsing through the bush is a way to find new places, discover caches of weapons and riches untold, but there is a reason why no one lives out here. Additionally, when you randomly come across corpses, there is usually a reason. Go ahead and loot the corpse, but it may be best to find another way. It's awfully easy to fall in a deep hole. Or stumble across a pack of ravenous animals. Or worse. 
  • Radiation is a bad thing, but it isn't what people commonly think of it. Radiation doesn't just cold-cock you. It kills you slowly. And, surprisingly, the body can deal with a lot of it over time. If you are forced to either take a little radiation that MIGHT hurt you or skirt a radiated zone through an area populated with miscreants who will surely hurt you, maybe you should suck it up. 
  • When in a populated area, never show your cards. Specifically, if you are armed, don't announce it by openly carrying. It's almost always better to have people underestimate you. Furthermore, some people may see you as a direct threat and may open fire on you for no reason other than they really like what you have. And, they typically do it behind your back. 
  • Rocket launchers in an enclosed environment are always a bad idea. So are hand grenades and Molotov cocktails. Just avoid incendiary devices inside at all times. Too many bad things can happen too quickly. 
  • Just because there was no one on your path heading one way doesn't mean there won't be one on the way back. And when you are tracking someone, never forget that someone may be tracking you...or hoping you are following. 
  • Travel light whenever possible. Believe it or not, there is only so much weapons and ammo that you can carry. If you find something extremely important that you want to take with you, it's better not to have to decide whether to drop the missile launcher or the sniper rifle just to have a free hand. Furthermore, the more you carry, the more clumsy and slow you are. If you are overburdened with armor, an assault rifle, and rocket launcher, and 50 pounds of other supplies, its hard to move quietly or quickly. 
  • Gauge confrontations very carefully.  If you really want to ambush someone, make sure you do an adequate job scouting. Sometimes it's better just to make a note and keep on walking. Anything nice won't be yours for the taking without a fight. And, like my grandfather always said...for every 1 that you see are 4 that you don't. 
  • Know when to run. Believe it or not, sometimes you will stumble into situations that you don't want to shoot out of. Sometimes  the tables can get turned on  an otherwise good looking situations and even really bad shots can get a lucky one in every once in awhile. Your first instinct in any unplanned encounter should be to run. 
  • Always have a planned exit strategy if things go to pot. You never want to run through an area you have never been through before. It's hard to pay much attention while you are running fill-tilt. You may not pay any attention to all the trip wires set up to the landmines of someone's booby trap. 
  • Never take people at face value and always consider what would happen if they get a better deal elsewhere. People get desperate. People are also selfish and greedy. You always have to assume that if there is something you want from someone, someone else will want it to. And, they may pay more. 
  • Weapon maintenance is extremely important. Take care of your own weapons. Never pick up a weapon off the ground and expect it to save your life. It may simply not fire at all or it just might blow up in your face entirely. 
  • Always be aware of your surroundings, especially when entering a conflict. Know where to fight from and where to run to. You may have thought it out and have a great ambush spot with hard cover and great angles. You may not have considered that your hard cover is a car filled with gas. Maybe your opponent does and rolls a grenade under it. Or maybe he just gets a lucky shot in and blows the gas tank. You may have picked out a great water tower to pick people off with your sniper rifle. But what happens if they figure out where you are and surround the bottom of the ladder? That could make for a long few days. 
  • It's amazing what you can learn if you sit still and listen. This applies for everything from a crowded bar to the wilderness. Just sit still and listen. The world will tell you all you need to know. It's truly sad how free people are with information. 
  • Even in the EOTWAWKI, people will always want a way out through drugs. Things can get bad, but you will only make them worse by partaking. People on drugs are willing to do anything to feel better. Sometimes you can use this to your advantage. When you come across drugs, they provide an easy means of making some cash or procuring a favor from an addict. Conversely, always be aware of addicts. Never trust them or turn your back on them. 
  • It really is a small world. Realize that how you deal with 1 person can drastically change your outlook in life. You never know when you are dealing with someone's great great uncle's cousin's best friend. Months or years after an encounter with someone, don't be surprised when someone you never met before sits down across from you while pointing a gun at your face. When in doubt, treat people cautiously and professionally if you don't know them. And remember, as we said before, you may be a straight shooter, but that doesn't mean everyone else isn't a lying cheater, deadbeat, or desperate individual. 
  • Never take on a job until you know the whole story and both sides of it. The well dressed, hospitable person that approached you to take a job eliminating some grubby deadbeat farmer may seem like the good guy and the job may seem to be on the up and up. Or maybe he is making you do his dirty work so that he can profit off the deaths of innocent people.  Make sure you address all the angles. You may be working for the wrong guy. Furthermore, any time you take a secret mission of great importance, specifically to off someone, realize that you are probably the next one on the list. 
  • People in woe and want will almost always turn to a cooky religion to explain their plight. Many times they will idolize random things. So don't be surprised when you walk into a town where the people worship an unexploded nuclear weapon. And while you might not align with their beliefs, respect them. It may just be an object to you. It may be worth killing over for them. 
There are a ton of other fun facts I learned from Fallout 3, though many of you will question the validity of dealing with rad-scorpions and mutants. So, I decided to stick with more....useful...tidbits of knowledge I learned from Fallout. Again, these are all in fun an I don't expect you to truly be mystified by any of it. 

The Auburn Realist: The LSU Review

Sometimes it's nice to be wrong. I know a lot of people were hoping I would be wrong about this game, at least the score anyway.

Alas, it wasn't to be. While I really would love to have seen Auburn win this game and I would happily accept being wrong, it just wasn't in the cards. The upside is, I was essentially correct on most every point from my LSU Preview Predictions. Good for at least one Maybe. Unless you read about what I thought this loss would do for the team....

First off, we all saw the Auburn vs LSU usual fanfare about the fire game and the earthquake game. So, 1:1 to start off the night.  Considering some of my other predictions,like the Mississippi Game Review,  I will take being right whenever I can get it!

We read all week about taking the chains off of the offense and letting Marshall do his thing. I voiced my concern that I didn't expect there to be any functional difference to the offense this week as opposed to previous weeks aside from maybe letting him scramble and having a few more designed runs. I expected to see at least 2 deep balls get thrown and at least 1 of them to get caught, though I didn't really expect it to be for a TD. Correct on both accounts. Marshall threw the deep ball early but couldn't seem to connect in the first half. At times it was downright painful to see him throw the ball. Down by 21 coming out of the locker room, he continued to throw it deep and connected on several including a 52 yarder to Coates who is rapidly becoming his favorite deep receiver. But, like I said in the preview, LSU isn't a team that gets beat by a few long throws like most teams. The rain certainly hurt Marshall, who couldn't make the ball do anything right as long as the rain was coming down. At times the ball came out of his hands and nobody knew where it would go. The passes ranged from wildly inaccurate to dead-on perfect at times, specifically, the 52 yards to Coates. Marshall made a post game comment about his small hands. Having throwing a lot of football in my life, I can tell you that having small hands and throwing in the rain do not mix. His rushing wasn't earth-shattering, and while it certainly helped, it was game breaking. He was kept out of the endzone, which really is all that matters for the LSU defense. His long run of the night was 15 yards and he averaged only 3.3 yards. In all, Marshall had a pedestrian day with 0 TDs and 2 picks while throwing for 224 yards.His running, as stated, was ok though he added a fumble very early that really set the tone for the evening.

As I expected, Mason had a terrific game. The weakness of this LSU team is against the run, believe it or not. Mason averaged over 5 yards per carry with a long of 17. 132 total rushing yards and 2 TDs for the Junior in what may be his best single game so far. The middle of the LSU defense is weak against a dynamic RB.

As per the prediction, CAP and Grant were essentially non-factors although CAP did have a TD, which I really shouldn't downplay, I guess.

I wasn't on par with Marcus Davis who only had 2 catches.

Instead, Coates stepped up with 139 yards of receiving and the 52 yard bomb. That would have been nice to have gone to the house, though. I won't deny that I am pleased with his development. But, it still seems like if it isn't drops, it's badly thrown balls. Then again, I said it in the prediction...statistics say that they can't all be bad. He made good on what he could this week.

I have talked to at least 20 people about this game. I listened to what they said before I gave any synopsis. What did 100% of them say? "That guy at middle linebacker KILLED you." I was at a party Saturday night with fans from across the nation. What's absolutely PATHETIC to me is that they all know who Jake Holland is. And not because he is a stellar player, either. The guy must practice FANTASTIC during the week because he doesn't play worth anything during the game. The fullback, Copeland, absolutely abused him in the first quarter on two different plays. The 49 yarder was painful to watch because Holland stepped right in front of the block and never even extended an arm to make a play. Like we said in previous have to get off the blocks. Don't believe me? Check out the vid.
Hill's 49 yarder

Or the 11 yarder after the fumbled punt? Yep. Copeland OWNED him in the hole. I mean, Holland was taken 5 yards out of the box.
Hill's 11 yarder

Did he do anything good? Yeah. He made a sack....and he struggled to get Mettenburger down on it.

The rest of the game on defense? Surprisingly pretty good. I mean, after the first quarter, Hill around had 2 TDs and a ton of yardage. While he did have a career night, a 4th down fumble and a fumbled punt really helped him out. Auburn did manage to nab an INT at the hands of Whitehead. They recorded a couple of sacks, and a fumble. They held a smokin' hot Mettenburger to a season low 229 yards in the air and only 1 passing TD when he had been on fire against other reams.

The Line
I predicted that each team would hit a field goal and the score would be 24-17. Neither team attempted a FG and LSU had the benefit of two early turnovers converted to TDs that turned the tide early. It's been a long time since Auburn has committed such a grievous mistake as dropping a punt on the goal line, and as good as I did with this game, I didn't see that happening. Nor did I see putting the ball on the dirt on a 4th and 1. Honestly though, I was much more upset at running a read-option on 4th down than the fumble. I still believe that was the  absolute wrong call to make. Simplicity and quickness are what I would have called myself. To be honest, I would have punted it and wouldn't have thought twice about it.

In fact, what's up with 5 4th down attempts, anyway? Hmm.....

Auburn killed themselves with their turnovers, but I had already set myself up with a Silver Lining.  I said that this would be a learning experience for this team and that a loss would be the best thing to help the team grow. I hold firm in that. The first quarter aside, this team went nose-to-nose in almost every stat category. They converted 3rd downs, though not enough. They held on to the ball. They played pretty good defense. Most importantly, this team didn't give up. The LSU fans were streaming out at half. I admit that I was already outside throwing Frisbee after the 1st quarter before my wife roped me back in for the 3rd quarter. Last years team would have been on the bus at halftime. This team came out and scored 21 points. And was inches from converting an onside kick that might have meant a world's amount of difference. I think Marshall sees that he has a team that won't quit on him. He sees playmakers that are deadly when he is patient with them. Most importantly, he sees that he alone can self-destruct a game when he tries to make things happen himself. I believe he will be nearly lights out for the rest of the season.

Defensively, this unit gets better and better...except that they have a gaping hole in the middle. If they can keep people from running right at the middle, they can be a force in every game. But, opposing coaches aren't in the bushiness of letting weaknesses go untested, are they?

While off on the score, I feel like I was nearly spot on with everything else. A Solid A for this weeks grade.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Basic Mechanics Skills and Knowing Vehicular Limitations Part 1

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Basic mechanical knowledge and skills are something that any person who hopes to be successful in the EOTWAWKI must have. I am not speaking just about vehicles, but vehicles are an excellent avenue to learn them. I can only talk with authority on my own past, but I know that the wealth of much of my knowledge comes from my extensive background in working on cars.

I won't claim that any of this post is going to be something that you have never read before. Heck, I am willing to bet that you heard much of this speech by a parent or grandfather the day you turned 16. I know I did. And, like almost everyone in this country, I rolled my eyes.

Before you roll your eyes, I propose that we conduct a quick experiment.

I want you to drive down your local heavily used state highway or interstate, say, the one you drive on every day to work. Within 5 miles, you will see a broken down car. Now, the reason for this breakdown can and will vary. It could be because of a catastrophic motor event or a wreck,  but 90% of the time, it is there because the driver doesn't understand the basics of vehicle maintenance, the limits of the vehicle, or how to fix the vehicle in either event. Over the course of my next few topics, we will look at several of these and then explain the significance of the knowledge and it's potential uses.

Tire Maintenance
What's the most common automotive issue I see on American's roadways? Flat tires. Flat tires claim more roadside breakdowns than anything else. And not because the tire went flat, but because the owner either didn't have a spare, the spare was flat, or *most likely* can't change the tire. Of these cars you see on the side of the road, how many have a jack underneath them, or a wheel propping the car up, and were simply abandoned mid-task? How many of them are just left there because they didn't have AAA? I have seen many a fine car left alone on the interstate for hours or days at a time.

Changing a tire is perhaps the simplest task a motorist can learn. And while it IS simple, it teaches several lessons while also being a useful and money saving skill. These skills can save you valuable time and money in the every day world, while perhaps saving your life down the line. Changing a tire teaches many things including, but not limited to, the order of steps needed to complete an involved task, it teaches using a long handled tool to develop a moment to break loose lugs, balancing an unevenly weighed object, and even safety.

Now, for those of you who CAN change a flat tire, you realize that while it's an inconvenient, it isn't a big deal. For those of you who have practiced many times in your life, it is now a habit and can be easily fixed in a matter of minutes. Now, for those of you that can't....what does a flat tire cost you? Mere minutes? Or hours? Do you have to call someone to come help you? What about their time? Does it cost you money? How is your stress level when you miss something important?

Yet, many times the problem is deeper than that.  I remember being 16-18 and my grandmother ALWAYS telling me that my tires looked flat and that I needed to put air in them. But I always ignored her until one day the rim cut the tire down and I had a blowout. I remember driving to Auburn one time and I had a nasty blow out because a randomly 100 degree day caused the tire pressure to increase beyond the capability of the tire. In either case, simply paying attention to the tires would have raised an alarm and I would have rectified the situation. Not to mention that it would have saved me several hundred dollars.  But, I wasn't in the habit of paying attention to my vehicle, neither by checking it out whenever I thought about it OR paying attention to it's behavior on the road.

Here are many things that can tip you off to a tire issue, but all require the driver to be in tune to the vehicle:

  • Uneven wear on the treads. If it's worn on the outside, the tire pressure has been too low. If it's worn in the center, the tire pressure is to high.
  • Does the car pull to one side or the other while driving? This could be a misalignment or one under inflated tire, which will also cause uneven wear. 
  • Is there a "wobble"? If so, you could have tread separation and a blowout could be imminent. 
Furthermore, great care should be taken while driving to limit the hazards to tires. 
  • Always avoid potholes. It may not seems deep or wide, and maybe you have run over thousands of them in your life. But it only takes the right one at the right angle and speed to cut down a tire. That's a a real bad thing to have happen at 70. 
  • Never run over objects on the road. IT may look like a piece of paper, but it could be a shard of metal or class ready to cut your tire. It may be a piece of plywood. Then again, it could be covered with nails. 

Now, how about understanding the limitations of your tires? For example, do you know what the capabilities of a type of tire might be? Do you know if the tires on your current vehicle can be used to go off-road, if the need arises? Conversely, do you know just how long to expect a set of off-road tires to last on the street? In the case of a damaged tire, for example, a cut you know how to accurately gauge the remaining usefulness of that tire? Or know how to extend it's life by lowering tire pressure and travel speed? In the event of a flat tire, do you know just how fast you can continue to drive on it if need be? Or how to know if you have traveled as far as the physical limits of the flat tire will allow? Do you know what the danger signs of a tire are and can you gauge the severity? For example, what it means when you see the steel belts sticking out of a tire? Do you know what the effective stopping distance in your car is in all weather conditions? Specifically, do you know the conditions of your tires and how they might perform i the rain? In all cases, it requires the drive to be in tune with their vehicle, which in this age of automation and luxury, makes it easy for people to ignore all these important signs. 

So, many of you are asking just how this might save your life in the EOTWAWKI. Let's talk about one of our older posts from the 5 Stages of Preparedness. Specifically, Stage 1: The Immediate. Let's say you have identified a major threat to all cities, specifically the one you live in. While it is important to always take care of your vehicle for your everyday life, it could become vital to your survival. Specifically, if you have to get out of Dodge. You will have so many other things on your mind that you don't need to be worried about if your vehicle will get you where you need to go. Getting into habits such as checking tire conditions and pressure will go a long way to ensuring that at least the tires of your vehicle will hold up.  And, while you are on the go, you have to take care that you limit putting it in circumstances that it might fail you. Paying attention to driving conditions, specifically on the road, may save you minutes, hours, or even a dangerous circumstance that may claim others. For example, if EVERYONE is trying to escape a city, the roadways will undoubtedly be extremely busy. There will be wrecks. There will be objects on the road. Slowing down, paying attention, and limiting the potential for cutting down you tires may save you when it may doom others. What if it' raining? Getting out IS the priority, but knowing the effective stopping distance of your tires due to their physical condition could save you from a costly wreck. 

 But things happen. Sometimes there are forces you can't control. What will you do then? Could you change a tire if you had to? More importantly, can you do it quickly and safely? Will it be such a habit that you can pay attention to your surroundings? What if you didn't already have a vehicle and you needed one. You find one on the side of the road, abandoned. Keys still in it. But the owner couldn't figure out how to use a jack. With 5 minutes work, you have secured potentially life saving transportation. We talked about understanding the limitations of the tire. Let's say that you know there is a potential problem developing that you have identified. You also know that stopping is not a possibility. Understanding the limitations of the tires may allow you to continue your path. While it may not be the optimum speed or method, it may be enough to put those crucial miles behind you. 

What does it take to learn this skill? Just time. Luckily for you, your car manufacturer gave you all the tools you would need. I am willing to bet that there are instructions on the back of the cover panel to the secret compartment that houses the jack and the breaker bar in the trunk of your car. So, take some time on a Saturday afternoon to find out where that compartment is. Pull the cover off, grab the tools, and follow the directions. I promise that even the slowest of you will only need to change the tire 3 times before you will have it down. Even if you don't believe in the EOTWAWKI, you have to believe in saving time and money. How about keeping you from walking down an interstate late one night to find a gas station? I can't think of anything more scary for a woman than the thought of having to start walking down the street to find help.

Indirectly, there is a lot of things a person can gain from learning the basics of tire maintenance. How about the money and time that you can save from simply being in tune with your vehicle by getting in the habit of paying attention to the little things. No one likes buying tires. That's a fact. Identifying potential problems like noticing the vehicle pulling to one side can save money by having it fixed early.  Maintaining the proper air pressure can maximize tire life, saving you money.Simply knowing how to change a tire can save you hours and stress. What about the things you can learn indirectly? Off the top of my head, I think about the cause and effect of air temperature and pressure. How about understanding mechanical properties and friction? If the tire is flat, the surface area increases, so the drag increases causing the car to pull to one side. How about using a breaker bar to overcome your own physical limitations of force? I know it all sounds simplistic to many of you. But I am not writing for those of you that understand. The average American knows virtually nothing about hands-on mechanical work of any kind. They have to learn it by living it. I can't think of a better way to learn than to do so while discovering a valuable skill that has definite uses in your daily life and potential use to save it. 

Don't forget to read some of my other popular EOTWAWKI work!

The Auburn Realist: The LSU Preview

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I don't think 3-0 has ever felt so precarious. Or is it just me? I haven't bought in or cashed out yet, which really bothers me. My wife has bought in to this team and she is riding me because I haven't. This team is like a fledgling eagle. It has great potential, it can become the top tier Bird of Prey, but it has to manage not to fall out of the nest.

So, last week wasn't too great for me as far as calling scores and predictions. But, it was an odd game that featured a backup QB starting. Oh well, upon further review, I was on the right track. Check out my Mississippi State Review with pics!

None of it matters since it's time to travel to LSU. I can promise Ole Les doesn't care what your record is when you walk into Death Valley...the place where dreams.....ok, you know the saying.

I gotta say, I love that this game is getting some love from ESPN. It's probably the first time that a team coming off of 3-8 and being unranked has ever gotten its own commercial on the air.

One thing I can promise is: You will hear about the Fire Game. The Earthquake Game. And, my personal favorite....the 1994 INT game. But, the LSU/Auburn rivalry is deeper and more bitter than that. How about the 10-9 win in Auburn? I was there. That was amazing. Or Cecil the Diesel coming out of obscurity and  running to something like 245 yards on the ground against a loss! The kid breaks his leg and we never heard from him again. ***Update** I was enlightened that he actually did make it to the NFL and then prison shortly after. WOW!

There have only been a few lopsided victories, and despite the lack of...well...anything last year, Auburn made it close.

But, I gotta tell ya. Initially,  I didn't like this game in any form or fashion. I'll just come out and say it. I didn't think Auburn has much of a chance. Cue all the AUFamily calling me a "'Bammer" or a "Mullet" or whatever for being real. (update) But then I wrote the rest of this Preview......

Even if I put aside last year (and every other year), these teams don't even compare. Do they?

LSU continues to churn out amazing running backs who all have to share carries. There hasn't been a full time starter in a while. It seems to work for Les, who must have a heck of a Voodoo fortune teller in New Orleans who tells him what back starts when. This team has something that LSU hasn't had in years...even in the Championship years. A game WINNING QB. Yes...not a game manager and not a here today and gone tomorrow bust. Mettenberger looks like a winner. LSU is finally putting that receiver core to use after producing multiple NFL receivers who couldn't get a ball thrown to them in college. At least that's what ESPN is telling us...The defense? Well, it's LSU and Chavis is a winner. Again, so we are told.

But, hold up...who have they played? The only marketable game has been the TCU game to open up the season. Everyone seemed to be impressed with the victory. But, apparently, not too many watched that TCU team play Texas Tech the next week. They were sloppy. Penalty prone. And simply made stupid decisions time and time again. They let a Tech team playing a walk-on QB (BTW...he is the backup to ANOTHER walk-on who got hurt) beat them in a 2 minute drill! Ironically, if Tucker Tuberville were still at Texas Tech, he would be a starting QB instead of a scout teamer at Auburn.

The sportscasters made many remarks about players the coaches "couldn't get on the same page with" and "when he gets rid of that attitude"....blah blah. So, I am forced to throw out LSU's only legitimate win. So, they beat an over-hyped TCU and two high school teams. Now what?

On the flipside, Auburn has beaten what seems to be a very good WSU team, an ASU team that may very well 3-peat a conference title, and Mississippi State. I don't have any superlatives for MSU. Why? Because I am not impressed with them. I am not impressed with Mullen. While they gave Auburn everything the Tigers wanted...they always do, it wasn't enough. More importantly,  it's what happens after the SEC opener that matters, and 2010 aside, MSU hasn't done much. In fact, I see them declining further. Get used to being #7 in the SEC-W.

Auburn clawed out a 2-minute drill that no one will forget...until this weekend. Was I impressed with Marshall? Yes. It was amazing to see it live. He showed what MIGHT be possible. But, the key to this game is: the "go to" receivers can't catch a cold most of the time and the RBs can't do much against 9 man fronts. The defense has improved mightily after last years class, specifically in the secondary. But, the LB play from Holland was a real set back last week. Luckily Frost came in at the half and stopped the bleeding that Prescott was wreaking on the D. The D-line has not impressed me. Again, a reoccurring theme for a position that Auburn *supposedly* puts a premium on.

Way back when, before the season started I previewed the first half of the season. I called a win for Auburn based on containing the stable of LSU RBs and forcing Mettenberger to beat them with his arm. The problem was, I didn't see him coming on so strong....even against inferior talent. I'm not so sure I can stick with my call of  35-21 in favor of AU. After watching him last year, I just shrugged and figured he was the perfect continuation to the Periloux, Jefferson, etc al line of QBs at LSU.

What can we expect from AU?

There have been several articles from the beat reporters about taking the chains off the offense. But, honestly, I don't expect anything crazy. Sure, the pace has been slow at times and we haven't seen Marshall really break loose. So, I have to make the assumption that they will let Marshall run around a bit and they MIGHT finally get the pace up. One really depends on the other, however. Pace doesn't matter if you can't move the chains and it's tough to move the chains when you play behind them. More on that later.

We have seen about 2 deep balls a game, which is what I would expect. The problem is, you MUST connect on at least 1 of them. While Bray took one to the house last week, it was a broken play. I can't count it. What I can count were the all too painful drops. While the coaches and players have beat it to death, you can't fix it in a week. Without the deep ball, it's hard to win games with this offense. You have to stretch the field. Otherwise, you have to win with the run against the 8 and 9 man fronts. And LSU is NOT the team you want to go to war in the trenches against. Right?

Perhaps. Perhaps not. Even in the loss, TCU had two players that had high per rush averages and a pair of TDs. The issue was the inability to make passes down field against the LSU defense. Turns out, that may suit Gus just fine. Zone stretch here. Jet sweep there. QB pull. Next thing you know, you have an offense that's rolling.

And that's my prediction. Everyone thinks that Auburn must throw the ball to beat LSU. While it sure would help, the run is what can win the day. LSU is softer than people think they are, based upon their reputation. I do think they have the speed from sideline to sideline to stuff the jet sweep and keep Grant in check. I do think they know what to expect when CAP gets in the game. But, like I said last week....this week is all about #21. Yep. Mason will have his day. It won't be easy. It won't be quick. But he will produce. 1 TD for Mason. He hits the 100 all-purpose yard mark.

CAP will be limited on the ground, being used in short yardage situations. But, it WOULD be sneaky for this to be the game the Gus starts using him in the passing game. We saw his production in the A-Day game through the air and haven't seen him targeted yet. Sure would be a great play to use on a critical 3rd down.......

I do think a deep ball connection could be a game breaker, though I don't think they win or loose because of it. Last year, Auburn was in it and they never could throw the ball. They had that drop in the middle of the field that could have won the game, if we recall. But, I do expect Coates to get open. He has gotten open against EVERYONE. The difference this time is simply statistics. He can't drop them all and it's time to take one to the house. Alas, I just have no faith in it, though. Like I said, drops can't be fixed in a week.

I believe the WR who helps keep Auburn in this game is Marcus Davis. He has a nose for the ball and Marshall seems to like him as a comfort blanket. I think he sees 4 receptions and 6 targets this week. He isn't the game buster, but he gets his catches. I see 4 catches for 28 yards, but they all move the chains and it will be vitally important, though understated.

Marshall....ugh....I still feel the skies the limit for this guy, but I am very wary of expecting big things from him. I still feel he is too raw to win big games. I don't like his touch on the ball or his throwing motion. I don't like how he has made some grievous errors throwing the ball. But,  In Gus We Trust, right? One of my preseason fears with this game was that Gus would take the chains off and let Marshall go. The problem I saw was, if they got down early, he would force things and it would cost them the game. We have seen it in JUCO. He had something like 25 turn overs and the line was always the same "he tried to take the game on his back." While he is surrounded with superior talent than he had at JUCO, it's still a team that isn't quite on the level as most of the SEC-W competition, so the same logic applies. He doesn't even have to give up turnovers. If he takes a deep sacks because he is scrambling, Auburn will be in trouble. This team can't play behind the chains. We all recall that the LSU game in 2010 is essentially what put Cam on the map.  I contend that it's what really won his the Heisman. He couldn't be stopped and won the game himself. I DO think this is the game where we see the true value in Marshall, but I think it's also the game where he learns exactly what he is up against and how to win in the losing. He still posts good numbers, especially on the ground, but it will be the individual negative plays that make the difference, not the 100 yards he gains on the ground.

I am starting to think that we have seen the emergence of a player at MLB in Frost. He still has some growing room, but he is young and experienced no development with the last staff, which can be said for most all of the team. His play has greatly improved, as could be seen last week. Though, that was against a State team who didn't throw the ball and force him into coverage, which has been his weakness. Garrett moves to LB to shore up the position and that's good for Therezie who suddenly finds himself as the true starter. Two things to worry about: Garret couldn't break the rotation last year or the year before as a "mis-typed LB", so I am not sure what this move means. What I HOPE it means is, he had "the light come on" and now he can play in the box. The other thing is, I worry about Therezie staying hungry. I can identify with his plight, so called. His first 3 weeks have been lights-out in order to prove he belongs. Will he maintain the same level of play? I hope so. I have never seen him take a play off.

Can the D-Line emerge this week? Lots of talk about them and Johnson's attempt to elevate the production out of them. I just don't see the play improving against the best offensive line they have seen thus far. If you can't stuff the run between the tackles and you can't pressure Mettenbuger to make mistakes (which he will make), then you don't have a chance. But, if you can do ONE of these, you can stay in this game. This Auburn defense has had its run stopping games and its pass stopping games, but never both. If I had my pick, I would expect the D-Line to stuff the run, which requires little penetration, and force Mettenburger to pass. That's still a precarious situation, but it can work. I do see one sack, but it will be a coverage sack.

Now, I may have devalued the defensive backs a little to this point. But, after the WSU where they doubled last years pick count, they haven't hauled another one in. Their play has been adequate in the other two games and at times we have seen fantastic individual plays. The thing I like in this game is that Mettenburger is overly confident in his ability to make passes fit. That has worked against inferior opponents. I don't think it works against Auburn's defensive backs. I am picturing a tide-turning pick on a deep post where the deep safety makes a good read and steps in front of a streaking receiver. It's time for a defensive TD and this very well may be the game we see it.

Important Stats
Penalties. Auburn gives up 2 critical holding penalties. LSU gives up at least 1 pass interference to keep an AU receiver from getting loose. We will see 1 fake injury from LSU to slow down the pace from Auburn. Most likely, in a 2-minute drill at the end of the 1st half.
Missed field goals. Parkey misses a FG in the 3rd quarter that would help pull Auburn within a score. LSU buries one in the 4th for insurance.

The Line
Back and forth I go. I think they can win, then I think they can't. Truth is, I know they can win. Deep in my bones, I TRULY feel that losing this game will be the best thing that happens to this team. A drop by a receiver will prove how costly dropping both the deep balls in a game can hurt. Marshall will show just how high the ceiling is, but will learn that it's more important to win with a team then to take the world on your back. A games worth of brilliance isn't worth a moments error. The young D-line will find out how they stack up against the best in the SEC and will elevate all aspects their game from practice to preparation. The world will know just how good this AU secondary really is, and most importantly, a unit that has been criticized for years will understand that they can compete and win. This team, while it has all the same players, is different from last year. How? After this games last year, they folded. They gave up. This team and this coaching staff will be hungry. They will learn from this and they will win the Iron Bowl. So, I have to swap my preseason expectations.

24-17 LSU

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Fishing Report for Wheeler 9/18/13

Check out the vid! It's a good 'un!

I have to tell yall, my wife's desire to become my fishing partner has been exciting for me. She started late last year, using her half days to spend time on the water with me. I wasn't going to disagree. Anytime on the water is better than none. But, initially I was worried she would be like all the other women I hear about who can only spend short amounts of time out on the boat without getting bored.

But, each trip she went with me, she tried to catch fish. Unfortunately, the first few trips were slow and I was worried that she would loose interest. But she didn't. And finally, we had a good trip where she wiped the floor with me. I think she actually threw a fish in my face at one point...going up like 20 fish to 4. Here are some links to those trips

Recreational Companionship 
Getting Schooled By Alyse

Now, I maintain that I spent all my time keeping boat position in a hard current...but she will argue that. So don't listen to her.

Anyway, life has been busy for both of us and it's been hard to find an afternoon free. But, we managed to find some time to get away. I met her at noon at the Triana ramp, which is between Ditto Landing and Decatur. It's not really known for great fishing...but there are fish and I have a few places I feel confident I can catch them. I did have concerns with it being deep summer. But, all you can do is try! BTW...I don't think there is anything more AWESOME than a wife who can handle the boat....who's with me?

So, we pulled up on one of those spots and started casting. We both started with cranks, though I quickly gave up on them and when to the shakey head. I was throwing a buckeye spot remover pro series 1/4 ounce with a PowerTeam Lures 5" Sick Stick in watermelon red favorite combo!
Within 5 casts, I had a hard hit in about 10 feet of water, and when I set the hook...nothing was there. But, I have been learning a lot lately about finesse fishing, and one thing I have learned is....never give up on a cast. So, I let it settle back to the bottom and the fish crushed it again! This time I leaned back into the fish. It was a NICE fish for that end of the river. I know...2 pounds isn't great. But, they fight hard! I eased him to the boat and scooped him. No easy task on 6 pound test! 

I retied, added a new worm, and went back to work. The current, which I was surprised about, had pushed us down river from the pumphouse we were fishing. So, I decided to try the rock pile on the down river side. It didn't take long to produce a fish! It just wasn't real big....

At this point, Alyse made me give up the rod to her. So, she started using it. She had never thrown a shakey head, so I gave her some tips....even if I am not any good at it...and let her cast away. In the meantime, I picked up the ole Sammy and started fan casting.That produced another short fish...but I wasn't going to complain. 

I pulled us back up to the head of the pumphouse and watched Alyse fish the shakey head. I gave her some tips and it paid off! She was bumping the 'head along the bottom when one scooped it up. It took her a second to figure out what was going on, but she set the hook and swung it aboard! 

When things slowed down, we made a move up river to her "favorite spot". But, it didn't yield any fish...making that the second or third straight time. They must know she is coming!

We made another move, opting to fish two new spots. One was inside a tiny boat launch area that was shielded off from the current. I didn't think we would catch anything, but I was tired of dealing with the wind and the current. Amazingly enough, the spot produced about 5 fish in as many minutes....all on the shakey head. That included another nice 2 pounder that Alyse caught! 

Getting hot, since we were now out of the wind, we made one more move to an all new area...a stretch of rip rap bank. Alyse missed a fish immediately, but I was able to pick one off. Then the stretch cooled off. In the meantime, I saw an interesting set of rip rap rocks. These were larger than the rest and I explained how that was something that might hold fish. Case in point, I tossed the sammy towards them and a fish sent it rocketing skyward! It missed, but I could tell it was a nice fish. I took a breath, fired it back, made a few twitches and the fish KILLED it. It was the nicest fish of the day! Meanwhile, Alyse was wrangling a fish of her own....not making a sound! I turned around just in time to see her boat swing another nice fish! 

All in all, we caught around 15-20 fish in 3 hours. It was a ton of fun. To me, the highlight was watching my wife learn a new technique and see it pay off. 

The lowlight was easily me hooking's true.

I was jerking the sammy out of some brush and it rocketed back at me and hit me. That isn't what is's when it hits you and sticks. It was a clean in and out. A pair of pliers and a little work and I had it out. Not too much blood or crying!

Oh well! Still a Great Day!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Fishing Report for Guntersville 9/12/13

Check out the Vid!
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As all of you are probably well aware, life has been extremely busy. For example, just see our lives from this past weekend. It hasn't left much time for fishing. I am doing well to get out twice a month at this rate. That makes it awfully hard to figure the fish out when you DO get out. Sometimes you get lucky, like my last tournament on Wheeler. But, more often than not, I have struggled, as I have done on Table Rock and on Wilson Lake. And with football season here, Aubree's soccer...and the hot duldrums of late Bama summer, fishing hasn't been a priority.

But, my dad had been asking to get out and, truth be told, we hadn't fished enough together. In fact, he had YET to catch a fish out of the new boat. Work has been hectic for both of us, but we found ourselves with a little time on this Thursday. So, we set out to fish Guntersville. We put in at Seibold and went to throwing topwater early. Surprisingly, we couldn't buy a bite, even though it was pre-frontal. After fishing the first hour or so without a bite, we idled a bit and tried to find some fish on ledges with out new Hummingbird 798 that I installed not to long ago. After idling a bit, I found a nice point that dropped off into the creek channel that had some good stumps and fish. I found these with the sidescan with the help of knowledge I learned from BassWhacker a few months ago(he's a great guide, check him out!). After a few casts, I thumped a PowerTeam Lures ribbon hinge worm off a stump and a fish inhaled it! It about took the rod out of my hand! It wasn't a monster, but it measured...and more was a fish!
After a few more casts, we gave up on trying to catch any more. We ran all the way to Goose Pond to an area that Josh and I have been catching them lately.

The move, though pricey considering the amount of gas we used, paid off. We caught several fish and missed a lot more, including a MONSTER than I caught on video that blew up a frog. Dad finally broke the new boat curse with a fish on a 6" PTL Gator and then backed it up with a NICE 4.5 pounder on a frog. He got it in the boat and it put up a big time fight, ultimately winning the day and flopping into the drink. I told dad "it's all good. I got it all on video, plus it hit the boat. Which counts as a catch".

I never caught two fish on the same bait, bagging them on an assortment of worms, Hammershad, top water Sammy, etc.

When the sun got up, we called it quits. It's too hot for two old farts like us! Regardless, it's great to spend time with your dad. Even better to catch some fish and get a good laugh!

Weekend of 9/13/13 Oktoberfest, Auburn, and MORE!

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Busy. Busy. Busy. You know how we do. As if Last Weekend wasn't busy enough, we decided to up the ante.

Starting on Thursday, we got busy. I fished with my dad (report incoming) and we had a DECENT day. It wasn't great, but we steadily caught fish. More importantly, we were able to spend some time together. EH caught his first fish in the Skeeter and added a lunker at the end of the day! That night, I received a very important package which spawned the Friday afternoon Last Man on Earth Studies about Prepping Priorities. Here is a sneak peak of one of the things we talked about....

Friday night was the World Famous (just kidding) Redstone Arsenal Oktoberfest. We haven't been in several years. In fact, the last time we went was when Griffin was Gavin's age. So, it was time to get him up to speed. At first, he wasn't thrilled about it, but Aubree being the great big sister that she is, hyped it up. What's not to like? German food, great rides, and tons of ways to separate you from your money! Hurrah!

So, we loaded up to meet some friends. Of course, it's $15 to get in, and they don't care how old you are. So, $60 later, we were in the gate. We road a few rides (well, Alyse did. I pushed Gavin around) and then it was time for some schnitzel in the banquet tent while we listened to like Polka! We ate. The kids danced.


The food was great and I even managed not to make myself sick by eating too much! By this time, Emily had talked my wife in to riding some crazy rides, which means my wife talked me in to riding some crazy rides. Age and responsibility are a crazy thing. I have never had any fear of heights or rides. But, being a parent has somehow changed me. I was TERRIFIED of riding the Fireball. But I did it anyway...cause I can't show weakness. Except for screaming like a girl. Luckily everyone was doing pics of that!

Meanwhile, my mom took the kids to ride some kiddie rides!
But, before we knew it, it was getting late and Aubree had an early softball game. So, we made a stop by the Funhouse on the way out, which is hte kids favorite! Of course, it was my favorite too, since each child managed to find a wall at full speed at least once. I have to admit, Griffin managed NOT to bring the two story full house down by running through walls. By the time we got home, we had 3 sleeping babes.

Saturday came early as we had a soccer game. On par with the rest of the season, we got absolutely drilled. We did manage to score our first goal on a full field boot. I wasn't sure to be happy about it, or worried that it would set a bad precedent of simply kicking the ball as hard as you can at all times. I tell ya, doesn't matter how good of a coach I try to be, I can't seem to teach these kids ANYTHING. But I will keep right on. Aubree played well, so I guess that's about all I can ask for....and that she wake up one morning with a little speed.......

As soon as the soccer game was over, we passed the kids off to the inlaws and hit the road for the Auburn-Mississippi Game. I previewed the game last week, check out my Preview of the Mississippi State Game. 

We picked Kevin up and headed to the best tailgate spot on the plans, right outside Plainsman Park. It pays to have highschool buddies who live and work on the Plains. It's also the best way to get a high five from Aubie on his way into the tent. My wife tried to snap my chest bump with Aubie, but she missed it, instead getting me walking up to Aubie and walking away. But I'm not bitter at all....

Along the way, we met my friend avid state fan. But, we were able to treat him as a good host should. We gave him a prime tailgating spot, we let him meet Aubie. We took him for free food and to meet the Raptor Center up close and personal at the Alumni Association Tent. They do such a great job making tailgating easy and enjoyable. Great service. Great food. You get to meet the cheerleaders and the band...the benefits are simply awesome. Everyone should check them out!

and....of course....a prime spot to watch the Eagle Fly. 

The game was great, though it was fairly unexpected in it's outcome. I wrote my Mississippi State Review. Check it out.

We got back to Kevin's house, got some sleep, and it was up at the crack of dawn because it was time for Victorious Sekrit flag football! So, a 4 hour trip home so I could run out on the field and play some ball. We were playing one of the UAHuntsville fraternities....and EVERYONE loves to hate fraternities. As game time got near, the director approached me and said that they had called and didn't know if they would have enough players. That was odd. The fraternities always show up in bulk, complete with fans and mascots. HE told me it was because they didn't think we would be competitive enough.

That was the wrong thing to say to the team in Pink. When ATO managed to field a team, it was the Gus Malzahn HUNH offense captained by yours truly.  We took the ball first and scored on a 2 play, 60 yard drive. 2 Point conversion=success. They got the ball and we picked them off on the 3rd or 4th play. Then another short drive for 6 points. 

At halftime, they asked us to enforce the mercy rule since we were up 28-0 and they hadn't been past midfield. None of us could let it slide, so we informed them that we must be more competition than they bargained for....and no....we wouldn't be stopping for a mercy rule. We rolled up 49 points, scoring on every drive. They never crossed midfield. The player of the game was my good buddy Nick, who played safety behind me at corner in high school. He caught a TD, threw a TD, and had a few picks. That's some fantasy points right there! I managed to score from my center easy task! 

Sunday afternoon, we played catch up on our tasks....and just like that, it was back to work! 

The Mississippi State Review

If you didn't read my Fearless Predictions for the Mississippi State game, please check it out.

Overall....Eh....I am not sure how I would grade my performance. Let's get it on paper and see how we feel about it then.

The Running Game
I guess I will start off by saying that Mullen did exactly as I thought he would do in his game planning. He bottled up the run. I didn't expect them to do such a good job of it. Grant did lead the way with 44 yards with a long of 12 yards. I expected him to break the long one, but he didn't. As expected, Mason was kept completely in check. Unexpectedly, CAP was also kept in check. But, I expected him to get 2 TDs, both in short yardage situations. Auburn didn't have any short-and-goals. Mullen wanted to see Marshall beat him with his arm. His weakness is his secondary and he saw a perceived weakness in the Auburn passing game. It was a worthwhile gamble and it nearly worked. The only thing that seemed to work in the running game was QB scrambles. Marshall did a very good job running when he HAD to.

The Passing Game
On the flip side, Auburn obviously game planned to take advantage of the holes that Banks and Slay left in the secondary. So, as Mullen stacked the box for the potent Auburn run game, Gus had Marshall came out slinging the rock. Marshall threw for more yards in the 1st quarter than he has thrown in any game this year. He ended with....gasp....23-34 for 339. That's the first guy since Cam to do that.

But, ever the realist, I temper my excitement. 76 of those yards were a TD to Bray that...well...State just gave Auburn. I still don't know what happened. I assume that the State defender on Bray saw Marshall fumble the snap, took a step up, and Bray smoked him. 70 more of that came on the 2-minute drill to win the game, so, "offsetting penalties" on that. Along with those gobs of yardage were a lot of shorter passes. More important are the missed opportunities. Marshall completely missed a wide open Coates streaking to the endzone...over throwing him by a bazillion yards. Other passes were off the mark all game long. The middle two quarters were almost painful to watch, for both sides. I expected Auburn to blow the roof off in the 3rd quarter with a pair of deep ball TDs. And, the plays WERE there. But, hey, give the guy some props for that Game Winner toss.

Here is what I expected in my Preview:
"It's obvious that this coaching staff wants to go downtown. If they can do it to an appreciable extent, they can blow the doors off this MSU defense. Marshall  knows he can run at any point. The coaching staff knows he can run at any point. He could possibly, with help from Mason/CAP/Grant, win the day entirely running....but that won't beat the rest of the SEC-W. I can totally see him running one in, but I think he is being coached heavily to develop his touch and relationship with his receivers. "

And, at least I was right about that. Marshall stuck to the passing game. While he did run some, and did so very will, he did it ONLY when he really needed to. For the most part, he stuck in the pocket. While he picked up 50 solid yards on the ground including a clutch run in the 2-minute drill, he did so safely.

He had 2 INTs, and while they hurt, I didn't really get riled up about them. The first was a Hail Mary to end the half. I guess the ONLY thing that bothered me was, for a guy who can throw it 80 yards, why did he short arm it? The other INT came off a tipped ball. Not much he can do about that.

And then there is the defense. Prescott played in the place of Russell, so I imagine that made game planing a little harder. So, as I once again berate Jake Holland, the haters will berate me. Believe me when I say that I do support each and every player and coach. Yet, I can't deny that he is the weak link in the defense. Prescott on MULTIPLE runs made Holland look foolish. With Frost out, Mullen game planned just I would. The D-line still has trouble collapsing the pocked and Holland can't do anything right. So, QB draws up the middle were the order of the day. Prescott ran for 133 yards and averaged 6.0 per carry and a long of 47 yards. He accounted for both of the State TDs. It's one thing when a QB finds  the corner. These runs were right up the gut. Holland couldn't make the tackle when he was in position, but more importantly, every replay I saw of him, he couldn't get off a blocker. If you miss a tackle, at least you are slowing down a runner by hitting him or making him change directions. If you can't get off a blocker, a runner will just run by you. That's exactly what I saw happening. When Frost came back from suspension in the second half, that all but stopped. On the flip side, Perkins was held in check. Kudos to Ellis Johnson on that. That's a tall order.

Auburn's secondary played well. Aside from having 2 receivers that averaged 20 yards per catch and a total yardage of 213, I thought they played excellent. I think we all wanted to see some turnovers, but I'll take it. Just as I expected, Therezie continues to start at Star and Garret has now moved back to LB. Therezie is a nasty presence in the defensive backfield. He made some terrific bone-jarring hits. It's been a long time since I have said that I had a favorite player. He is the man. I just hope that he continue to play with a chip in his shoulder even though he has supplanted Garrett. Although I am obviously a Number 27 fan, I do hope that Garrett finds success at LB. Sure looks like we need it.

Marshall as the Player of the Game was right on. Hard to deny. Although I want to see a complete game, you can't argue with the win. 90 yards in 2 minutes is a feat. I will be honest that when the State punt pinned Auburn on the 10, I thought the game was over. I am always happy to be proven wrong. Parkey gets a very honorable mention with his 3 Field Goals, which I was thankful for in my Fantasy League.

Adams, and the D-line in general, were not factors in this game it seemed. I am getting extremely worried about that. You can't win in the SEC without getting pressure in the backfield. At no point Saturday did I feel like the D-line was a legitimate threat. They did bottle up Perkins, though he only had 8 carries. I wonder if that was less on their effect and more on Mullen's game plan.

While not a Game Breaking Moment, the MSU corners did get frozen up at least twice. Only one of those turned into a touchdown, but the other should have. One was the 76 yarder to Bray that set the tone for the game in the 1st Quarter the other was the aforementioned miss to Coates.

The Final Score? Yikes. I was off just a little. It wasn't 38-17 like I expected. Auburn didn't get the 2 3rd quarter TD tosses I expected and State missed a 2-point conversion early and missed a FG late. Not terrible, but not good either.

So, as far as predicting the game plan, I give myself an A. Mullen shut down the Auburn running game as I expected him to attempt. The only thing I didn't see coming was completely shutting down the long run play from Grant. He forced Marshall to beat him in the air. While I expected the deep ball at least twice for TDs, I was right that they would attempt it, and wrong that they would execute it. Offensively, Mullen ran right at the weak part of the defense..the middle. No TDs for Cap. That was a big miss.

As far as predicting stats and scores...well....let's just say a C-. Overall, I'd have to say a B- in total. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

Light Firearm Repair on Common Handgun Issues

Don't forget to check out ALL of my Last Man On Earth Studies posts!

A few months ago, I posted an article covering the dangers of feeding problems of handguns and their effects on your safety.

I had mentioned that I had several Taurus handguns that I had purchased because they were a good deal, but despite the apparent quality of them, I was having some feeding issues. Luckily I had found these while shooting them in a recreational setting, as opposed to a life saving one. In particular, I have a TCP .380 and a PT-145 Pro Millennium that would give me problems.

Now, neither one of these guns had chronic problems with FTF(failure to fire) or FTE (failure to eject), but they would do it every once in awhile. But every once in awhile isn't acceptable. Furthermore, many of you will immediately say that Taurus must be junk and I should refrain from buying them and stick with higher end guns. Initially, I thought that was what I would have to do, and I wasn't excited about it. I liked having a lot of toy guns, and having to spend double the money per gun would pretty much end my short love of this hobby.

I went so far as to remove the TCP from my wife's purse and replace it with a much more reliable revolver. But after months of stewing on it, I got on the internet and decided to see what I can do about it. So, I started doing some research on the subject and I found a lot of articles covering potential feeding problems and associated fixes to them. You can find these articles on websites like,,,, or even video fixes on youtube. While Taurus has great customer service and I could simply send it in, I am reasonably good with my hands. I don't shy away from detailed mechanical work. Nor did I want to have to wait on a gun to be repaired, especially when everything I read said the repairs were easy. Additionally, part of me loves a challenge, AND since this is about prepping for the EOWTAWKI, you have to recognize that you may not always have "someone else" to fix your problems.

Surprisingly, each one of the guns had a solution or two that would fix 90% of the problems.

  • The easiest problem to disassemble the gun, clean it, and lube it. Sound silly? Really, it is. Turned out, my PT-145, like many others, were not properly lubricated, particularly the slide. I disassembled it, cleaned it, lubed it with Rem Oil, and that at least made the action a lot easier and smoother.
  • The next thing I did was to polish the feed ramp. Polishing will smooth out an already nice feed ramp and it will removed tool marks that may exist from the machining process from the factor, which will cause a lot of issues on the round being fed into the chamber. This isn't news to most firearm owners. But, I find that the information out on the web is downright dangerous. I see people using power tools, incorrect polishing compounds, and terrible techniques. There are several things to consider when polishing a feed ramp: You want to ensure that you evenly polish the ramp. Additionally, you must ensure that you do not cause wear that will affect the heat treatment of the ramp material. Either one of these two types of damage can easily be done in mere seconds. Especially if you use power tools or improper amounts or direction of force when polishing. What do I mean by that? Make sure you use an object that is near the size and shape of your ramp and barrel. This will prevent uneven polishing.Even if you use a proper sized object, using it too forcefully can cause a heat buildup that can effect the molecular structure of the grains...ending the proper heat treatment. Take your time and inspect frequently. It took me 30 solid minutes to smooth out the machine marks on my PT-145. It may take you longer. 
  • One of the most common solutions I read said to give the gun a few more chances and take it shooting. The metallic jacket from the bullets do the rest, filling in and smoothing out those machine marks. This wasn't my solution, but it is a viable one. 
  • One of the most common problems with almost ANY brand of firearm can be linked directly to the magazine. You can have improper follower spring pressure, you can have a mag that is too tight on the lead round or even too loose. Experiment with trying to carefully reshape the tabs of the mag. That is one of the most common solutions for the TCP
  • Always remember....never do any damage that may void a warranty. In the end, this is usually the best card you have. None of the simple work I stated above would void it. In the case of a more serious problem, like a common extractor issue on the TCP, you will do best to have it sent in.
Here are some pictures for how I did mine. I found a Sharpy was the PERFECT size for the PT-145

After a thorough cleaning and the small amount of work, I never had a problem with either gun again. Now, that won't solve EVERY problem, but the point is....with a little research, common sense and a work, you can fix 90% of the issues you will encounter on your firearms. I recognize that there are also the other 10% which may require expensive and extensive tooling, tools, and training. I don't have a lathe or a mill at my house, and I am barely capable of operating them if I did. I imagine that most of you are the same. But, being able to fix 90% is a ratio I can live with. Remember, you may not always have access to the internet or a gunsmith! Better to learn to do things yourself!