Software Review


(Free Online Photo Editor)

I am as far as you can get from a professional photographer. But I do like to take pictures and if you are like me, eventually you will want to edit them. Programs like Photoshop can cost hundreds of dollars and in the long run, you will probably not use all the features expensive programs provide. With this in mind, I went looking for a good FREE photo editor.

Pixlr is a free online photo editor. It allows you to edit your pictures with multiple layers and comes with some pretty cool effects. As a quick demo, I edited a picture of a tiger.

With one layer holding the tiger’s picture I added a second layer for a black border. Then a layer for text. The editing screen is easy to navigate.

You can upload and save images directly from or to your computer to use later.

Check them out a


Bunker 051

I am a retired United States Air Force Security Policeman.  The history of the USAF Security Police is full of men and women who sacrificed their lives in the defense of this nation.  This is one of those stories.

January 31st, 1968,  Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam.

0320: Call Sign Echo 37, bunker 051 calls in and reports and reports mortars and grenades are being fired at the western perimeter, but are falling short.  Security Forces are dispatched.

0327: Echo 37, Sgt Fischer, who was badly wounded reports that several hundred men were attacking the bunker and heading toward the airfield.  Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) ran away and left Sgt. Alfonzo Coggins, Sgt. William Cyr, Sgt.Louis Fischer, Sgt. Roger Mills and Sgt. Charles Hebron to attempt to hold the defensive bunker.  It was discovered that 12 North Vietnam Army companies were attacking the base from eight directions.

0330: A Helicopter Light Fire Team under the control of the 53rd Bn, 3rd  Company was dispatched to strafe the areas where the enemy was concentrated.

0340: Bunker 051 (Echo-37) reported two injured. one hit by a mortar or rocket and that mortar or rocket rounds were landing on base. CSC dispatched an ambulance to the 051 Bunker to evacuate the wounded. The ambulance, however, was unable to reach the bunker due to the heavy enemy fire.

0344: The 051 Bunker (Echo-37) reported the west perimeter fence was being breached near 051 Gate (75 meters north of the 051 Bunker) and that enemy forces were coming onto the base. The Echo Quick Reaction Team and two platoons of Task Force 35 were dispatched to the area and deployed as the initial blocking force.

0354:   Echo-37 (Sgt. Fischer) reported: ” They are completely inside the base, they’re all around this position, we’re running low on ammo, one man dead and two badly injured”.  

0354:, Security Control: 10-20 “What’s your call sign?”

0354: Echo 37: Echo 37

0355: Security Control: “Copy Echo-37”

0355: Echo-37: “That’s 10-4”

This was the last transmission from Sgt. Fisher. Of the five Security Policeman whose post that night was bunker 051, only one survived. Sgt. Alonzo Coggins either emerged or was found at approximately 1100 Hours. After his comrades were dead and running out of ammo, he lay severely wounded and survived throughout the night, even during the 10 hours that the North Vietnamese had control of bunker 051, Sgt. Coggins remained inside. He was eventually airlifted for medical treatment. Six months later he was discharged and was awarded the Silver Star as were his four comrades that fell.

Bunker 051


The Patriot

Definition: Noun: A person who loves, supports, and defends his or her country and its interests with devotion.

There once was a warrior who fought for his country without question. He was a Patriot.

There once was a citizen that fought against war without question. He was a Patriot.

There once was a student that fought for social justice without question. He was a Patriot.

In today’s world, these examples of a Patriot seem to contradict each other. In truth, they do not. Though they may have differing world views, the intent of supporting and defending the interests of their country is equal. As I observe conversations in the media and social websites it becomes obvious that the word Patriot has been altered to mean only conservative points of view. However, this is not true. Liberals can also claim to be Patriots.

Supporting your country is totally different from agreeing with its government. If you take this down to a personal level, you support a friend by pointing out where they are making mistakes. Patriots left and right, do just this.

Defending your country does not mean ignoring what it has done wrong, but fighting to make sure it does not repeat those mistakes.

Love for country does not mean being blind. It means you are aware of the promise that your country has, and you want to move it to that promise.

A Patriot is Defined by Intent.

Security Sunday 20161106

Security Sunday 20161106

Security is a mindset. It is not paranoia, it is being aware of the dangers that exist, and taking action to reduce your exposure. If you take nothing else from this series of articles, the message of awareness is the most important.

There is an aspect to security that has not been discussed. Personal self-defense methods. These methods, though important, are not something you can read about, or watch a video to learn. The use of open hand (no weapon) techniques and use of weapons can only be successfully taught hands on. It will take a few days to weeks to learn how to employ the proper level of force based on the situation.

One of the first things any self-defense instructor will teach you is to be aware. Staying out of situations that may force you into a life or death fight is the goal. A search of the internet will yield hundreds of local self-defense courses. Investigate them before plopping down money.

Krav Maga is a system that I would suggest you look into. It is used by Israeli special forces, and you can find a training center in most cities. Again, investigate before spending time and money.

Be Safe

Photographs and Memories

A picture, they say, paints a thousand words.

They can help us see what things were like before we were here.

How they dressed differently.

But inside they were the same as us.

They had dreams of a better life.

They acted just as goofy.

They suffered the ravages of disease.

They tried to be “Different”.

They played games.

They worried about today.

They worried about tomorrow.

They fought for what they believed.

They died by the evil of others.

For all of the bad they endured.

They kept right on living.

To the very end.


Security Sunday 20161030

Security Sunday 20161030

Travel Security

The premise of this series of this post is that there have been no threats directed at you. If you have had a threat by a former boyfriend, girlfriend, or Mafia contact your local city or county attorney.

Depending on where you live, you will travel by a privately owned car, taxi, train, or bus. Most of our travel is so routine that we give it little thought. In fact, you can probably do it with your eyes closed. It is just another routine. That is about to change.

You will need some supplies.

          1. A map that includes the places you frequently travel.

          2. A Red, Blue, and Green highlighter.

          3. A pencil.

          4. A note pad.

We will deal with travel by privately owned car. Since this is the method that provides you with the most control over your travel.

Using the map and the green highlighter mark the route you take on a daily basis. Now using the note pad we will do a little reconnaissance of the route. What we are looking for are Danger Areas.

A danger area is any point where your car is stopped. This obviously includes stop signs and traffic signals, but it also includes high traffic areas. Another group of danger areas is bridges and tunnels. Typically a bridge and a tunnel restrict your ability to maneuver. On the note pad make a list of the danger areas by address.

Why do we want to be aware of places you stop or your movement is restricted? Car-Jacking, kidnappings, and robberies are more likely in a place where you are stopped. The whole purpose of this exercise is to make you aware of these dangers. Being aware is a large part of personal security.

Before you begin travel you must make sure your vehicle is capable of making the trip. Purchase a road service, just in case.

Being armed with a firearm is not always possible, but you should have other means such as pepper spray. Check your local laws to ensure you are in compliance with the carrying of pepper spray.

Keep your windows rolled up, and doors locked.

Know where all of the police sub-stations and hospitals along your route are located.

With the blue highlighter mark an alternate route that is significantly different from your main route. As with the main route make note of danger areas, and police sub-stations/hospitals.

Use the red highlighter to mark emergency routes. These routes are to hospitals, police sub-stations, fire departments, and evacuation locations. Practice driving these routes.

This is all about awareness. Being aware of your surroundings enhances your security. There are other actions you can take such as driving courses, self-defense courses, etc… Don’t be paranoid, be aware.

Security Sunday 20161023

Security Sunday 20161023

Security Systems and Monitoring Services.

This series has been dealing with measures you can take to improve the security of your home. Many of these required you to do the work, but that is not always something that is feasible. Obviously paying for these services are not inexpensive. You can spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands. And the service you receive will vary accordingly. This blog will not endorse any company or product. What it will do is provide you with what to look for in these products and services.

Security Systems

Intrusion detectors with an alarm is a must. Every window and door should at the very least be equipped with a mechanical switch type intrusion detector. This really is nothing more than a magnetic switch that lets you know when a door or window has been opened. The alarm must be LOUD and annoying. These systems cost in the low hundreds. Unfortunately they typically only cover a couple of doors or windows. To have real value look for one that in expandable to cover all of your windows and doors.

When possible include other types of detectors, such as infra-red motion detectors. When armed these detectors will pick up movement within your home. This is important since a well-versed burglar knows how to circumvent mechanical switches. Cameras that can operate in low light conditions are also helpful.

Wireless or wired is the question. Wireless is easy. Typically you just peel and stick the detector and alarms and you are all done. The drawback is that each detector and alarm will need a battery and when the battery goes dead you will either wake up to an annoyingly loud alarm, or you will find that someone stole all of your stuff.  This can also be a plus since the alarm will continue to function during a power outage. Wired systems do not suffer from battery issues since they are wired to your home’s power. If you buy a system that has a battery backup they will even work during a power outage. The drawback to this type of system is, they are not easy to install.

Wireless and wired systems are both vulnerable to hackers.

Monitoring Services

Monitoring services are easy. They will in most cases install an alarm system in your home for low or no cost, as long as you buy their monitoring service. There are some very good services out there, but they all have drawbacks. Chief among their drawbacks is cost.

Monitoring companies use terms you need to understand. Response time is a term that they use. Their reference to response time is the time between an alarm in your home being initiated and the monitoring service taking an action.

These actions typically include calling you to determine if the call is indeed a break-in and not a malfunction. The monitoring company will attempt to call you based on a notification tree you have set up with them. For instance, you can have them call your home number first, then your cell number, then a trusted agent you have established with them. The number of calls they will attempt before calling the police varies. Why not call the police first? The police may, and often do charge for false alarms. Your local police department can advise you on these charges.


Regardless of how you proceed with a home alarm system keep in mind, these systems are the last line of defense, and typically will not do much to stop a determined burglar. To depend on these systems alone will do little more than provide proof to the insurance company that you at least tried to protect your stuff.

Consider this. The average response time to a life or death situation by the police is 10 minutes. For a burglar alarm, the time is as high as an hour. The time it takes for a skilled burglar to take your valuables is 8 minutes. The good news is, burglars like the easy mark with the highest payout. If you have followed the Security Sunday series of posts to this point you increased the difficulty for a burglar, and protected your valuables by keeping them out of sight.

In the next series of Security Sunday posts, we will deal with personal security while traveling.

Security Sunday 20161016

Security Sunday

Internal Controls

Up to this point, we have discussed physical changes you should make. Those are easy compared to the mental changes you need to make. You need to be security conscious, that does not mean paranoid. What this means is to consider your security.

The idea of Internal Controls is about your thinking in terms of security. Internal controls is looking at how people move and interact with your property. Some of these controls are passive, such as walkways and paths. Other controls are active, such as fences, doors, and locks. As with before we will begin outside the home and move inward.

It should be obvious to any visitor where the main entrance to your home is. You can help them by creating walkways, paths, and decorating the main entrance. The goal here is to keep visitors from getting lost. Side doors, back doors, or any other entrance that allows someone to not be seen from the street are off limits at all times. Except under circumstances you control. You would be shocked at the number of thieves who will use the excuse of being lost as a way to recon your residence.

This will mean you will need to be exact with delivery people as to where they may leave deliveries. Sales people are threats that must be deterred in the strongest possible way. Short of shooting them that is. Lights, intercoms, and even well-placed sprinklers can help in this regard. Keep in mind, uninvited visitors are a threat. No one, except those in the most trusted parts of your Circle of Trust, should ever move onto or around your property without your consent.

You have gone through a great deal of trouble and expense to create secure areas, now you must defend it. You will interact with people in this process, and it will always come at the most inconvenient time. If you see someone in an area they should not be in, get on your intercom and tell them in no uncertain terms to go away, or you will call the police. Then if they do not go…call the police.

From time to time, you will have guests. Sometimes many guests. That means people will not only be on your property, but also in your home. This is where things get dangerous. Many burglaries have occurred after a party. Which means one of the guests was scoping things out.

Remember the “cloak room”? That special room where you have your guests toss their coats? This room is often the site of thefts and an excuse for guests to get “lost” in your home. If you must secure people coats, then YOU need to be the one to take the coats there and retrieve them. The room they are stored in must be locked. It may be inconvenient, but security is never convenient. It sure beats filling out a police report later.

At some point, someone will want to use your bathroom. Every internal door of your home should be equipped with a lock. Lock all but the bathroom door, and put up plenty of signs pointing to the bathroom. No one should just be wandering around your home.

If you have children they will want to have friends over. Don’t trust those short thieves. I have investigated many thefts that revolved around children’s friends. This is why children are security risks, only tell them exactly what they need to know.

Put all of your easily stolen valuables out of sight. Security by obscurity.

Finally, walk your property and ask How can I gain access? How can I recon this place? You can’t possibly fill every gap in your security, but you should be aware of them.

Next Week…Security Monitoring Systems and Services.

**sorry this was late, but I had life**

What to do when you have writers block.


Honestly, I’m not sure. Right now I have three complex projects and they are collectively whooping my butt. So, to break those up…I have decided to write about something that just popped into my noggin.

While stationed in Grand Forks, North Dakota I was the Flight Sargent responsible for a number (its a secret number) of nuclear weapons. My teams were spread over a very large portion of the frozen wasteland that is North Dakota.

As extreme as North Dakota can be, it does have a beauty that many miss. At night, which was my favorite time to work, a stark contrast between the white snow and the black sky would create the perfect background to some of God’s greatest light shows. The Northern Lights.

I have yet to see an artist or photographer that can capture the beautiful display. The drama of one moment looking at a pitch black sky with just the twinkle of stars, and then suddenly an intense rainbow colored curtain just descends from the sky. It is awe inspiring.

On this particular night, I was on my way to rescue one of my teams. They had decided to use an unauthorized route and had managed to get stuck in the snow. There was some urgency in this case. They were on a timed response, and I needed to keep them from getting busted for being on an unauthorized route. This meant using the radio was out of the question. So we resorted to our alternate communications method…which I will not mention here.

At first glance, North Dakota looks flat as a table top…but that is deceiving. They have hills. Just not many of them. As I came over the hill leading to my lost team, Plush by Stone Temple Pilots came on the radio…at that same moment an intense blue and red curtain magically appeared in the sky. I was so awestruck I almost ended up in a ditch. Whenever I hear that song that display comes vividly back to my memory.

I found my lost team, managed to get them out of their predicament and they completed the mission within the required time. Most importantly I saved some young guys from standing tall in front of the commander. I scared them enough that I do not think they have made the same mistake since. Or, if they were like me….they just got sneakier at it.