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Irv’s summertime camping gear recommendations

Summertime Camping Equipment Review

The good, the bad, and the ugly….maybe


Irving Krasnoshtayn, Special Guest at joshfirst.com

When I was a kid, my family did not go camping. There was nowhere to go. The “open space” in Brooklyn, New York, was the little crack between the concrete slabs on every sidewalk where small sprouts of grass grow. Football, hockey, even baseball games were played in the street or in a crowded public park if one was near enough. People in tents were known as homeless. The first time I went camping was with a bunch of college friends over 20 years ago. It was a poorly planned and ragtag experiment, by guys with more spirit than knowledge. We brought an axe and chopped our own firewood, and then thought we were real outdoorsmen. More than anything we all got giant blisters on our soft city hands. Lots of things have changed since then, but my enjoyment of camping only grew from that one fun misadventure.

Fast forward just a few years and now I am the dad with little kids who excitedly ask me about camping over summer vacation. But unlike my childhood, society today is a lot more mobile, and outdoor recreation is a lot more widespread, common, and much more easily accessible. When you have a couple kids and a wife, you have to think not only about the easy, happy family coziness, fresh air, and the sunshine aspects of camping, but also about everyone being comfortable, repelling bugs, people going potty in the middle of the night, and having decent food. Meeting all of those goals with a family means that we get to try out a lot of camping gear, albeit mostly car camping and not always wilderness treks. Our destinations are usually commercial campgrounds and state and county parks. So here’s my honest review of some things I rely on when family camping. I know there are plenty of dads and moms out there who are hungry for this kind of information. Links to many of these items are below.

Tents: I have two tents, each costing around $100. One a six-person and the other an eight-person, both made by Coleman. But those sizes are a lie because each tent fits two people fewer than advertised, especially with all their gear. You have to think about keeping your stuff dry inside the tent in bad weather, so a backpack takes up the space of a person.

These Coleman tents are relatively easy to set up and they have been reliable. But buy a bigger tent than you think you need, unless you will be backpacking it on a mountain. In which case you will want the absolute lightest gear, which is a whole other story. Use strong steel stakes, they don’t bend as easily as aluminum and last longer. I also put down a cheap tarp on the ground slightly larger than the tent, to take off shoes before we get into the tent and to protect the bottom and keep it from tearing.

Sleeping bags: I have owned more sleeping bags than I can count on both hands. This key part of camping has been a long process for me, and I hope you can learn from my mistakes. In the course of learning sleeping lessons while camping the hard way, I have discovered I really don’t like mummy bags. Mummy bags are sold as a common camping cure-all, but they best fit small framed and narrowly proportioned people, while I want room for my tree trunk legs and wide shoulders. Don’t buy a bag from an unheard of company, like I have, while trying to save money; you will end up paying the real price in comfort and enjoyment, which is worth more than money. At the lower end of the price range, say around $40, Coleman makes decent sleeping bags. Some have cotton lining, some nylon, some acrylic, some flannel, but either way make sure you like the particular material against your skin before you walk out of the store with the bag. I have used everything from 20 degree bags to 50 degree bags, and absolutely none are as warm or breathable as they claim. Until you test your bag and understand its real limits, make sure you bring extra base clothing to keep warm at night. A drinking bottle filed with hot water can help overnight. Coleman’s Brazos is a decent model. A stuff sack for storing the sleeping bag short term is great to have too. To preserve their fill loft, sleeping bags must be stored long term either hung up hanging freely, or in large sacks that do not compress them.

Sleeping pads: One of the most important things I have bought for camping is a sleeping pad. I like a comfy sleep, what can I say. Once you sleep somewhere rocky you will understand why a good sleeping pad is important. Besides, I’m getting old and want to be comfortable. Walmart sells a cheap roll up pad like the military uses that is about a half an inch thick, and that is the minimum I would recommend. I highly recommend the best pad you can afford, either closed cell foam or inflatable. I have one for each family member of different types and thicknesses. The egg crate type is not bad but I prefer a firm type made of open/closed cell foam.

I own a few self-inflating pads but I’m afraid they might develop a hole and deflate like happened to me once. I like reliability, which the closed cell foam has.

Pillow: When camping with our car, we bring our pillows from home. When backpacking I take one of two inflatable pillows, but some people just bring a pillow case and stuff it with their clothing. That works.

Fire: Although I own many axes, such as the decent Cold Steel axe, I now rarely use one while camping. Instead I use a few different saws to get my firewood. Silky saws of Japan makes the best saws money can buy.  The Silky Gomboy with medium teeth is the most comfortable and fastest cutting saw I know of besides using a chainsaw. Their teeth are wider than the spine so they cut very well and don’t bind. They are a pleasure to use but have been known to snap if used forcefully. Take your time and let the saw do the work. They can be found on sale for around $40 and like all good kit, are well worth it. Get the largest one you can afford. “Project Farm” of youtube fame recommended another couple of saws.  I will be “real world” testing them soon.

Fire Starting: This is something I have practiced extensively and have found campers need to carry more than one way to start a fire, and know how to use each one. Yes, Bic lighters are a go-to but when it is freezing, snowing, or raining they may not work. Always carry your Bic/gas lighters on your person in a pocket, and NOT in your pack. The reason is your body will keep the lighter warm and the contents in a fluid and flammable state. If the lighter is really cold, the butane will not turn into a gas when you try to light it and it won’t work. Zippo lighters are okay as long as they don’t get wet or leak.

Wind is another reason I don’t rely on gas lighters or survival matches. If you do buy survival matches, make sure the container is waterproof and they are the type that can stay lit underwater. Yes they make those. I used a waterproof pill container filled with LIFEBOAT matches and cotton balls for my kids.

I have made videos throwing every type of lighter or match into a half foot of snow or a bucket of water, and the only thing that was reliable was a Ferrocerium rod. Known as a Ferro rod, I now buy them in bulk and make handles for them out of spent rifle cases. Use the spine of your knife and you will make all the sparks you need to start a fire.

At home I prepare a few cotton balls dipped into Vaseline, and store them in a small Ziploc bag. They have the added benefit of protecting your skin/hands. A Ferro rod will light one immediately and the Vaseline in it will burn for a good minute or two, if not longer. I will sometimes make feather sticks which a Ferro rod will also easily light if done correctly. I own magnesium fire starters, and they work, but they aren’t necessary. Again if it’s windy, the magnesium will often get blown away. Some people like to use military trioxane, but this extra expense is not necessary.

Camp chair: Bring a chair for each person if you can. This is advice that is easy when car camping and very difficult while backpacking. I have not yet found a lightweight folding chair that I like.

Cooking: I have spent hundreds of dollars on a titanium stove and the latest everything else for cooking, and have concluded just a few items are all I need to cook good food while camping. Stanley makes a $30-$40 frying pan kit which is worth it. Titanium frying pans which I own are lightweight but develop hotspots that then cook unevenly. The Stanley frying pan kit cooks everything evenly and comes with two plates, and a take-apart spatula that is almost priceless. Stanley also makes a few other kits including a pot kit and a mug/cup kit which are also very good. I have used them all extensively, and they develop a blackened bottom with open fires.  Someone scientifically tested blackened pots and it will boil water approximately a minute faster because it absorbs the heat better. I have a lightweight folding stainless steel grate for chicken, hot dogs and burgers.  Works great. I like a titanium cup for quickly boiling water for making tea or a ramen type meal. Lightweight Titanium spoons and forks are also worth buying. Better than any plastic.

Stoves: I like and own many packable wood stoves. The Solo stove is GOOD. It burns wood very efficiently and fast. Sometimes too fast, so you will need a lot of twigs on hand because it doesn’t hold much and you have to keep adding to keep the fire going. Esbit stoves don’t heat up enough for my liking and alcohol stoves might work, but I don’t want to carry alcohol that I can’t drink. Firebox makes quite possibly the best balance of reliability, compactness, yet high capacity wood burning stove on the market.  It is amazing and I highly recommend it. The Firebox Nano model is tiny yet unfolds large enough to cook a morning meal without any fuss.

Cooler: I prefer hard sided coolers, because they keep their shape and hold ice overnight, even in the hottest summers. They also repel the sharp claws of raccoons.

Lighting: You will need to see when it gets dark. I prefer headlamps over flashlights because they keep both hands free. I bring one for each person, even the kids. I give out glow sticks just to see where other people are. Any headlamp over 200 lumens is good. Wide beams are more useful for close range. In my work as an electrician, I use headlamps every single day. The cheaper brands have always failed me because they use cheap circuitry and switches that eventually fail just when you need them most. Energizer makes many excellent headlamps.

Eveready makes a good model for $10. On the higher end, Petzl, Streamlight, Black Diamond, Fenix, Surefire and many others make very good lights. Don’t buy a crappy light, because you don’t need to. The good ones don’t cost  much more than the really bad ones. I don’t use rechargeable batteries when camping, because unless you have solar panels how are you going to charge it? I’m not going to carry a battery power bank. I bring an extra set of fresh batteries. [Editor’s note: I have used two different Anker solar chargers on long distance ten-day backpacking trips and they work well when matched with the right battery – JF]

Rope: Buy some paracord and keep it in different places where you might need ten or twenty feet of it. Home Depot sells a decent paracord.  The brighter colors are better, because your eye will see them and stop your feet before you trip over them when they are guyed out around a tent or a tarp shelter. Also useful for tying down your stuff in strong wind.

Duct Tape: I like gorilla tape. It sticks better than any duct tape I have ever used. Wrap a few feet around something like your lighter.

Multitool: I prefer Leatherman. The wingman model has scissors, a pocket clip, and is relatively light.

And finally, knives: Few outdoor items are more iconic or representative of camping than a fixed blade knife or one of the newfangled, robust, easy-open folding knives. Everyone has different sized hands and skin, so everyone prefers a different handle material and shape, and thicker or thinner, longer or shorter. There are so many knives on the market, I should begin by telling everyone to always carry a pocketknife. Preferably one with a locking mechanism so it doesn’t accidentally close on your fingers. Swiss army knives are OK for home use, but I don’t prefer them as a daily pocket carry.

Fixed blades are also necessary. I’ll start by recommending the least expensive of the bunch, Mora knives of Sweden. They are the best bang for your dollar at the moment. I recommend stainless steel over carbon steel so that your knife won’t rust, and if there is one thing you are guaranteed of on a camping trip, it is that your knife will get wet and it won’t get put away dry.

At around $20, the Mora companion model is a great knife for many reasons. It has a comfortable handle and an excellent sheath which clips onto your belt without you having to take it off. Mora uses a Scandinavian grind on their knives, which is excellent for “Bushcraft” type work, which is a variety of light to heavy utility work, plus food preparation. I prefer full flat grinds which are much more versatile, particularly for food preparation.

ESEE knives have an unconditional lifetime guarantee. They come in 1095 high carbon steel which may rust if not cared for. (Use vaseline from the cotton balls or plain mineral oil to prevent rust)

I used the ESEE 4HM model (~$120) for an entire camping trip and found it excelled at everything. GREAT knife.

In the Outdoors, the sheath is just as important as the knife.

First Aid Kit: Always carry some type of first aid kit and know how to use it. I was an EMT, and based on my experience I think everyone should at least learn the basics. Know how to stop bleeding with pressure or how to stabilize/support a sprained ankle. Accidents happen, be prepared, and having a good first aid kit is step one in being prepared. Car camping first aid kits can be almost like a mobile field hospital in size, and backpacking first aid kits must be streamlined and geared towards treating foot blisters, burns, and knife cuts.

I put together my own first aid kit in a one- gallon waterproof Ziploc bag, including everything from Band-Aids to gloves and gauze to common medications like ibuprofen and aspirin.

Have a great summer camping with your family!




sleeping bags:

Coleman Green Valley 30°F Cool-Weather Sleeping Bag, Cotton Flannel Adult Sleeping Bag with No-Snag Zipper, Heat Retention, and Easy Packing; Fits Campers up to 5ft 11in

Coleman Green Valley 30°F Cool-Weather …




sleeping pads:


Foam Sleep Pad- Extra Thick Camping Mat for Cots, Tents, Sleeping Bags & Sleepovers




Silky GomBoy Professional Folding Saw 240mm Medium Teeth (121-24)

Silky GomBoy Professional Folding Saw 2…


Samurai KISI FC-240-LH / 9 1/2″ (24cm) Folding Curved Blade Saw Made in Japan

Samurai KISI FC-240-LH / 9 1/2″ (24cm) …


Fire making:




Cooking: pots pans





Home – FireboxStove.com

Lite Camp Stove | Solo Stove

Lite Camp Stove | Solo Stove


Home – FireboxStove.com








ESEE 4HM Fixed Blade Knife w/ Kydex Sheath & Micarta Handle

ESEE 4HM Fixed Blade Knife w/ Kydex She…


How’d that go? PA begins online hunting license & tag sales

Today at 8:00 AM marked the first day of the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s true entry into the modern world of home computers and the Internet. This probably sounds like an unnecessarily harsh or even a commonly outlandish criticism of the venerable PGC, but it is a technological fact that today marks the very first step by the 1895-founded-and-minded wildlife agency into directly integrating with its customer base.

And it has not gone well, although it could have gone a lot worse. Monday end-of-business hours analysis shows the PGC website processing about 7,090 license purchases per hour. That is about 118 per minute, which is a lot faster than the roughly 1,900 licenses per hour purchased in the early time frame I operated in. Given all of the little moving parts involved, especially that carefully measured doe tag purchase, I guess I can see why this is taking longer than the two to three minutes total that each person expected to spend on it. It still frustrated me and others who are not at war with PGC.

The process has been marred by exceptionally long waits, both in-person at brick and mortar retailers and online, with lots of “system crashes” and people standing in line for hours, spawning humorous memes like the old and now former pink doe tag envelope saying “Miss Me Yet?” I like the meme of the skeleton passed out over the desktop computer “Waiting for my 21st century Internet purchase from the PA Game Commission.”

The truth is that this day had to come, sooner or later. The old double-stamped pink envelope US Mail process was increasingly marred by the US Postal Service’s incredibly ever worse performance, to the point where people were photographing piles of time-sensitive pink envelopes sitting in heaps in some post office rooms, waiting for who knows what or who knows who. No one likes to be treated differently than everyone else, and the pink envelope lottery was an idea from 1945 that worked when postal employees did their jobs. These days, the Postal Service is notoriously unreliable. We can’t have a doe tag distribution process that relies on unreliable people and institutions. Even when the applying hunter does everything correctly, his or her pink doe tag envelope might take a wrong turn at Albuquerque and arrive days or weeks after the last doe tag was distributed. Which greatly impacts the hunter’s plans and prospects for that upcoming hunting season.

My own experience today had me first sleeping fitfully all night like it was hunting season, and finally dragging myself out of bed and hunkering down by the laptop well before the 8:00 AM beginning of the online purchase process at www.huntfishpa.gov. Almost like opening day of deer season and sitting down at an ambush site. Except this process revealed itself as having actually started well before the appointed 8:00 AM hour, as I was number 7,023 in line when I signed into my PGC huntfishpa account. With barely any coffee in my veins to buffer this unhappy revelation, an ice cold shock ran through me as I realized I was both early and yet already very late to the process. Thousands of hunters were ahead of me in an online process that was unknown, untested, and sure to have its ups and downs and delays.

The big ticket item for most of us early applicants is getting the doe tag of our first choice Wildlife Management Unit. It is why we stayed in the game til the very end. And the numbers tell the tale: My own first choice, WMU 2G, sold 17,000 doe tags by 5:00 PM today, about twice as many doe tags as any other WMU. There is a strong fear in a lot of guys that if you don’t get in line early either online or at a store, you won’t get your coveted doe tag in your primary hunt region. Fact is, with the ever popular northern “Big Woods” WMU 2G, that fear is well founded. There are many more hunters wanting WMU 2G doe tags than there are WMU 2G doe tags to hand out. The early bird gets this worm, every year.

[UPDATE: At 9:42PM I looked at the doe tag numbers and 23,502 WMU 2G doe tags out of the 35,000 total allocation for that WMU have been sold so far. A sale rate far beyond any other WMU. This means that 2G will be sold out by Tuesday early morning hours. The hunter demand for Big Woods 2G tags has always been high, we knew it, and now we get to see how that demand plays out when the hunters themselves are put in direct control of their tag orders]

Four hours and ten minutes later, having obsessively hovered over my laptop screen the entire time while emailing and bitchfest-texting with  friends in both better and worse positions than I, I finally had ordered my general hunting license plus all of the additional license and permits I get, like furtaker (trapping), the annual elk application (I will take anything ya got anywhere ya got it), muzzleloader, archery, spear, atl-atl, sling, blowgun, black bear, fisher, bobcat, armadillo, hog, dog, rat, bat, and zinjanthropus tags. And yes, I got my WMU 2G doe tag, which enables me to hunt the way I enjoy most – solo pack and rifle and maybe an overnight and campfire somewhere way off the beaten path and far from roads and people, and the promise of a long and heavy pack-out of boned-out meat with a single doe’s ear and a completed tag attached. This kind of hunt is the most rewarding among big game hunters everywhere. Guys sitting in warmed box blinds overlooking fields and ravines have no idea.

So yeah, I waited and waited to ensure I got that 2G doe tag. A lot of my Big Woods hunting depends on it.

Anyone old enough to pick up on the Bugs Bunny theme above will understand where I am coming from; it was a loooong and kind of zany morning. In this day and age of Amazon and eBay and Gunbroker one-stop-shop badda bing badda bang badda boom go online and it’s yours two minutes later, Pennsylvania’s entry into the online hunting license world was practically Stone Age. New York has about as many hunters as Pennsylvania, and I have never encountered anything like this when I order my hunting license and tags from NY. It is usually immediate. Even Kentucky’s online hunting license and elk tag application process is faster than ours was today.

I am not picking on Kentucky….but come on, we all know it, Kentucky is not known for being especially technologically advanced. And yet….!

On the one hand, we must must give PGC credit for taking the long step out of 1895 and into the computer and internet age. This step the agency took this morning was one small step for PGC and one giant leap for hunterkind, or maybe the reverse, or whatever….. something like this. It is a big deal and I send you guys three cheers. Three grouchy cheers. Let’s not do this again, OK?

Yes, today’s license purchase has been marred by delays that seem unacceptable, but we all know that the PGC’s public employees have way too much pride to let this situation continue. It is a fact that a lot of employees and contractors will be working all night on this new system, and that by the time 8:00 AM breaks tomorrow, a lot of the glitches and delays we experienced today will be a bad memory for some, and a non-experience for a million others.


Men – you need The Clothier in Williamsport

I am not a fancy clothes guy. Most of my time is spent in work boots, hiking boots, cargo pants, and a short sleeved button down shirt. Yeah yeah, I have some dress up clothes that are high quality, but as I age, they become less and less important. They were probably very high quality twenty or thirty years ago, anyhow. They also don’t really fit well now. Somehow those nice clothes shrank. So, my go-to dress-up kit now is a pair of khakis and a navy blue blazer, nice button down shirt, no tie. This informal-formal outfit has enabled me to properly and respectfully mix and mingle with all kinds of wonderful people at big birthday parties, religious events, weddings, etc you name it.

However, the onset of a pending family wedding prompted me to take another look at my fading wardrobe. What I saw I did not like, and no matter how many ways I tried to mix and match this and that, nothing looked right. For example, skinny pants flood jeans look good on gay millennials and straight millennials trying to look gay, but they made me look like New Jersey governor Chris Christie, which is not a look I want, either in office or on my carcass. So, when you are like me and nothing you own and wear passes muster for a serious, dressy event, you must turn to “The Experts.”

And who, you ask, is an expert in the field of dressing guys, including fifty-something guys with a tub o’ lard around the midsection and the shade of the former tough guy athletic build they had twenty years ago? After contemplating this question, it dawned on me that the billboards around Williamsport, PA, probably meant what they said: Experts in men’s clothing reside at The Clothier. And so, following up on this weeks-long deductive reasoning episode, I looked up the number and called The Clothier.

In a nutshell, what I experienced from the first phone call to them to the moment I walked out their door laden down with all kinds of beautiful high quality clothing was like taking a time warp machine back to 1950s Italy or America or London. Matthew and his dad Francis at The Clothier are serious about Best Quality clothing, shoes, belts, you name it, and they want you to look your very best. If a guy wants the absolute best clothing, the most beautiful clothing, the nicest of everything, trust me on this recommendation, you need to pay a visit to The Clothier on 4th Street in Williamsport, PA. They have an astronomical amount of gorgeous clothing from around the world, including Trask shoes, which unbelievably are not made in my duck foot XXXL Man 13 EE size, dammit. They also have the experienced men to help you arrive at your very best public persona.

Now, a word to the wise. Do not enter into this beautiful den of manliness, filled with its rare and beautiful items, enjoy the luxury of being fitted to a tee with the best clothing you can afford to wear, and then expect to have an Amazon price at the end. No way. The Clothier is at the very other end of the quality spectrum from Amazon. When you go to Matthew and Francis to be outfitted for your own wedding, your kid’s wedding, your nonbinary dog’s third official Los Angeles tripartate polyamorous affair wedding, a big party, whatever, you are receiving the very best service, knowledgeable care, and detailed personal attention to your appearance that a man can receive on Planet Earth. They measure every limb and foot and hip and chest with a tape measure, they ask how you want to look, how you want the fabric to fit your body. Yes, you can get good quality, nice looking clothes for a good price at The Clothier, but do not cheap out or try to hondle these good people if you ask for the best they have. They will make your fat, ugly ass look unbelievable; at least they made mine look presentable. And they deserve everything they charge for that service.

Women have makeovers, and some years ago there was that funny “Queer Eye for The Straight Guy” TV show. Well, father and son Matthew and Francis are not gay, but they have all of the skills that an old world tailor and the talented gay guys had up until Western Civilization took a plunge into everyone either wearing nothing at all or crappy Chinese plastic clothes. They can and will get you looking amazing, if you give them a chance.

I was incredulous, like slack jawed, as I looked around their enormous store. “What on earth are you doing here in Williamsport, Francis?” I asked.

“I mean, you have enough beautiful clothing here to outfit each person in Williamsport daily for a month.”

To which the kindly elder tailor responded “You know what? Seventy percent of my business comes from out of state. Not just out of town, but out of state. Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia. Men who want the very best look they can afford come here. And then they come back for the rest of their lives.

If you are a guy in search of Best Quality clothing, formal or informal, shoes, belt, hat, coat, suit, socks, boxers, and you want help assembling everything into an amazing presentation, then you are not helping yourself until you call The Clothier: (570) 322-5707.

They have parking in the rear of their store at 138 4th Street, Williamsport, PA. And yes, Williamsport has meter people running up and down the street issuing tickets for unpaid meters. The back door parking is a big plus, and believe me, you will need the extra time to really shop. There is almost nothing like this place left in America, anywhere. The visit alone is worth the drive.


Trump is you, Trump is America, Trump is a canary bird

No one person in politics better embodies America’s best qualities, such as equal opportunity for anyone willing to work hard, than President Donald J. Trump. He really captures and represents the good things that America has stood for at least since World War Two.

Yes, the man has his weaknesses, and who doesn’t. His swagger and gregarious personality repulse the faint hearted and attract the confident. His one juvenile locker room-type comment caught on tape is lame, and it also pales in comparison to the violent rapes committed by Bill Clinton. But Trump’s detractors don’t really care about Bill Clinton’s actual sexual assaults, or Obama’s gross homosexual locker room liaisons, or Jeffrey Epstein’s pedophilia and sexual assaults of children along with his long list of ultra wealthy donors from just one political party.

Nope, to his opponents Trump is just a bad guy, the one and only bad guy, and he is all they can talk about, think about, and rail against. And in response, I say all criticism must be made in context to others in the same position. And on that count, Trump is like a ten year old kid on his bicycle with training wheels earnestly challenging a 1957 Corvette to a road race. It’s laughable to compare him to sincere criminals and deviants like Clinton, Obama, Joe Biden, and Epstein. Trump has the cleanest hands of any person in American politics in many decades.

In fact, Trump is such an outsider to American politics that nearly everyone in American politics hates him and fears him, because he just can’t be bought, and he refuses to buy into their anti-America-money-is-everything arrangement. A second term of President Trump threatens to overturn at least fifty years of cozy Uniparty corruption and misallocation of American taxpayer public dollars. And so the 2020 election had to be stolen from the American People right in front of our faces, and now that the 2024 election looms, the entire DC Beltway is at war with Trump. He is literally the ham sandwich that got indicted.

Trump has been indicted for things no one in America has ever been indicted for. He has been indicted for things that other people, like Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Hunter Biden, and Joe Biden have all done or are actively doing right now without any legal or even social repercussion. Official documents in Biden’s garage? Whatever. Tons of documentation that the entire Biden family is a treasonous influence peddling scheme? Whatever. But apparently Trump must die in prison for having taken his own documents home after leaving the White House.

A friend of mine, albeit a lobbyist, recently said to me that Trump is surrounded by “too much drama.” Yeah, well, war is drama because war is hell, and Trump is at war with the forces of evil because they declared war on him and you and me.

President Trump is not just some guy. He is not just some guy who bucked “the system.” Trump is THE guy who tore the mask off the criminally corrupt vampires illegally feasting on the American taxpayer and draining the American body politic down to a hollow husk that can then blow away in a faint breeze blowing from the East. And so he now faces a horde of vampires trying to kill him one unholy way or another so that they can go back to doing the horrible crap they were doing (e.g. illegally making money off of you the American taxpayer while simultaneously molesting children). This is a historic showdown, and Trump represents the light, the good, the sunshine, the promising dawn breaking over a gory battlefield. He represents you.

We are in a holy war, folks. It is good versus evil, and Trump is the good.

Trump represents you, the forgotten American taxpayer, the forgotten American worker, the forgotten American parent of small children, the white Millennial or purposefully impoverished black person taken for granted and used as cannon fodder in the Left’s war on freedom. At this point, Trump represents all that was a free America.

He is also the proverbial canary in the coal mine, because if he goes down under the weight of the vampire horde, then a free and fair America goes down with him. If the wave of illegal and unconstitutional and unfair and double-standard lawfare assaults on Trump prevail, then America will die, because there is no one strong enough or brave enough or patriotic enough to follow through on what Trump unwittingly started in 2016. None of the other Republican candidates have the strength of character Trump has. No one else can right the ship and set it on course again.

And this is why we must all band together and support President Donald J. Trump now. We are in a holy war not for Trump, but for America, for our children, our homes. Get in this fight and roll up your sleeves. Everyone is needed to return America to a government Of, By and For The People, and not of, by, and for the corrupt bureaucrat and special interests, like China, who now clearly own Joe Biden’s very soul and America’s wide open southern border.




What Father’s Day means to me

When I was nine, my dad gave me a set of small Norlund axes, which I still have today. One was single bit, the other was double bit. My specific job with those was to chop and stack firewood all summer, until Dick Fye’s lumber mill stopped sending us slab wood by twenty-ton dump truck loads dropped in our yard.

Dad also gave me use of the chainsaw, which I probably used as much as he did, or more. By twelve I was felling substantial trees. Probably not expertly, but I am still here today, unscathed from that, so I must have been really lucky or pretty good.

Point being, that one of the most important roles that a father can perform is to raise his son(s) to be not just men, but manly men. Masculine men, as defined by all of the masculine things manly men have done since the emergence of our species. Historically, men defended their families and communities, and hunted food that provided for their families. Those are still critically important roles for men to fill. Today, running a chainsaw, correctly using axes to split and shape wood, hauling firewood, supplying your family with sufficient firewood every day from an early age, these are all traditional manly things that can still be done in modern times. Or you can do the updated sedentary society equivalent.

Yes, I am sure that there are plenty of women who can run a chainsaw and split firewood, and who also enjoy doing these things, and although they are far in the minority of women, I say good for them. But today is Father’s Day and we are focused on the male species X chromosome humans right now, fathers and their sons (which of course applies to the masculine gay men I know). And so I say Thanks, Dad, for raising me to be a masculine man capable of doing traditionally masculine things. My family depends on it, and beyond that America depends on manly, masculine warrior men in the military to defend us from our enemies. Only dads can provide that upbringing.

Thanks, Dad!

(about the memes below: I am sick and tired of being falsely badmouthed and assaulted and coerced and demanded and forced and threatened over someone else’s sexual preference or identity or what-have-you. The truth is that I do not care, and it is my individual right not to care, and to be left alone to not care, and to say F*** off if someone keeps pushing something I don’t care about in my face and demanding that I care, and it is also my individual freedom and right and natural instinct to be repulsed by certain behaviors that other people do, and to be naturally phobic of those behaviors. And so I am just throwing up a few memes to provide my own pushback, even if I do not necessarily agree with 100% of each one. Go ahead and be offended, I do not care. I myself have been offended by this nonsense for years and no one seems to care, so back atcha).

Career politicians ended representative democracy

At its founding, America was envisioned as a representative government, a constitutional republic, where We, The People would vote for good citizens from amongst our ranks to represent our interests in government. Guy leaves his farm and plow behind to do his civic duty, returns back to the farm four or six years later. It is a good idea, because it does away with unfair feudalism and hierarchy, where only a few people at the top have power and everyone else is a powerless serf/slave/peon with no individual rights. The people making the laws are the same people who will be subject to the same laws. Everyone is treated fairly under the law.

And for a long time America worked pretty well on this model. Yes, there have been some political scandals along the way, and some power grabs that were turned back. Typically the American citizenry have been jealous of their rights and understandably suspicious of government in every way, and so they “throw the bums out” when the collective situation gets bad.

But somewhere in the past sixty years, maybe eighty years, America got deeply into political careerism. You know, where elected officials Mary Jane and Billy Bob were so respected and maybe even revered, either for their honorable traits or for their ability to deliver taxpayer funds to private beneficiaries, that the voters routinely, even habitually vote for them at every election. And so these people who kept getting elected in primaries and in general elections became career politicians. Either their entire career or most of it was spent working their way up a sort of “ladder” from local positions of authority to national positions of authority. And thus did people aim to have a career in politics, because of all sorts of reasons, some good, some bad, some corrupt, but there developed an entire culture within the two main political parties, Democrat and Republican, where party bosses would work with special interest groups to line up tame candidates who owed their political career not to We, The People, but to the party bosses and special interest groups.

And career politicians began to get really rich from their relatively low-paying public jobs. All the more reason to just stay in there and not do anything else with your life!

And so here we are, mid 2023, and career politicians in both political parties are willfully destroying America (e.g. faux “debt ceiling” wild spending spree that no one can ever pay for, Department of Defense can’t track expenditures below $100,000,000 and so our tax dollars are wasted and stolen from us, $83 billion worth of American military hardware is abandoned to our enemies in Afghanistan by Biden, neither party will hold Rep. Adam Schiff accountable for being a serial liar needlessly costing taxpayers $32 million etc).

Because career politicians are so personally invested in their political careers that if they deviate and try to do the right thing, then they stand a good chance of losing their elected office. And then doing the wrong thing becomes accepted and then promoted by the various established information outlets.

And so career politicians continue to make one bad decision after another, to hold onto their own personal power. To the point where even when Americans lose, when America loses, career politicians still win.

And so we reach the present financially and culturally unsustainable points that will inevitably result in America failing, and everyone losing their individual rights, and then some feudal overlords take over and use brute force like everyone else around the world lives under.

I know, I know, so many readers here laugh out loud when I write this stuff.

America destroyed! Unsustainable! Ha ha ha that Josh guy sure is an idiot, because he obviously doesn’t know America is waaay waaay too big to fail!

And so despite a long human history littered with wrecked human civilizations, the warnings from taxpaying worker bees like me go not just unheeded, but mocked and belittled by career political staffers and career politicians in both parties as they all continue to make financially and culturally unsustainable and reckless decisions for the collective rest of us. And at the end of their day, all the careerists see is money and power, and so anyone within their orbit can commit the most grievously corrupt behavior without being held accountable. As one of my mentors Frank used to say, the longer a career politician is in office, the tighter the horse blinders get, until they see nothing except what is right in front of them, which is money and power.

The rest of us? The We, The People worker bees? We see the corrupt rot all around us eating away at America. We see Rome beginning to burn, while the career politicians feast and live carefree lives devoid of discipline or honesty. This is not going to last, friends. If we all continue to re-elect career politicians, then our freedom-loving civilization is probably going to end within the lifetimes of the people reading these words, and everything we take for granted will be gone. All of it. It will all be History, as they say.


Pro 2A Rally and…Nobody Participated

Today was the annual pro-Second Amendment rally in Harrisburg at the Pennsylvania Capitol. For twenty years this rally has been held outside at both ends of the Capitol complex, and inside the Rotunda, and is always jam packed with legislators, activists, and interested citizens. Over the previous two years a handful of federal agents have showed up, laughably posing as self-styled camouflage-clad “militia” men straight out of a Hollywood script of what “right wing militia” people are supposed to look like. These real sneaky guys with their neon-bright law enforcement demeanors behind improbable masks and wraparound shades are a huge waste of my taxpayer money, but hey, these hip Gestapo guys have to have someone to pick on, and so they dutifully show up looking for threats to democracy. We should hand them mirrors next year.

Today, however, hardly anyone showed up to the rally. Including me. In my defense, I was participating in a scary and threatening militia group direct action against a severe clog in our home’s sewage pipe, with the Wizzard Drain Jett guy. Very subversive stuff. But I am told there were more speakers than participants at the 2A rally, and this is not because it finally rained today for the first time since God knows when. The reason the rally was sparsely attended is because patriotic, Constitution-loving Americans are demoralized.

What is the point of a rally in support of your Second Amendment rights when all of the federal government’s taxpayer-paid employees are doing their damnedest to criminalize your Constitutional rights? A protest does not mean much in an authoritarian state, which America is right now. And with the mainstream media serving as a proud arm of one political party and its anti-democracy political establishment, protesting doesn’t mean what it used to mean; nobody is going to hear about your rally, anyhow. Not the truth. Not what you were there to talk about. No, the mainstream media will lie about your rally.

And passionate patriots probably fear being illegally surveilled and tagged by the federal government FBIDHS Stasi Gestapo people…the same people accusing parents who love their children of being “domestic terrorists.” And most Americans have lost faith in the assigned opposition group, the Republican Party. The GOP literally does nothing in opposition to the real domestic terrorists and insurrectionists presently hijacking the federal government and turning America into a police state. The GOP doesn’t even pretend to listen to its base, so what is the point of appealing to them?

Few people came to the annual 2A rally today because they have been backed into a corner by the leftist weirdos, freaks, insurrectionists, and domestic terrorists running the federal government and its media communication arm right now. There is a lot of pent up anger and fear, and a powerful desire for revenge against the election thieves who are a bigger threat to American domestic security than China and Russia combined. Probably a hundred million-plus law abiding, good hearted American citizens are thinking the time for rallies and protests has passed.

That is why we had a party today and no one showed.


There is hope: Dinosaurs on the river

One of the reasons I object so strenuously to the fake climate alarmism nonsense is that it not only takes away attention and energy from real, measurable environmental problems, it also is so transparently fake and ridiculous that more and more Americans are beginning to doubt the entire environmental quality cause with which “climate change” is unjustifiably included.

When the public is lied to for five decades, told that the climate sky is falling, and that we have only five more years until… pick your fake end-of-times flooding, crop failure, too hot, too cold, end of oil, end of natural gas etc… and those predictions do not play out, then that public becomes weary and suspicious about everything the climate alarmists say, including the very real problems like loss of farmland, forest fragmentation, invasive bugs and plants, loss of wildlife habitat, loss of wild places. And that is bad, because Americans do need to maintain environmental quality, and improve it where needed. If we lose public support for true environmental problems that have real world solutions, then we will truly and needlessly suffer in the end.

Aside from being wrong about literally everything they claim and then demand, one of the other problems with climate alarmists is that they assume and promote a view of nature as steady state. That is, Nature never changes, it is always a Garden of Eden, except for human intervention. And when humans make mistakes or act greedily, climate alarmists say massive government intervention is needed, to the point where Western Civilization must be turned on its head, democracy must be canceled (for our own good, of course), and government bureaucrats must be in charge of every choice and decision we now make (we can’t be trusted to make “the right” choice). This is yet more nonsense, for the simple reason that Nature heals itself naturally.

How else does Nature recover from natural catastrophes like explosive and polluting volcanoes, floods, huge fires, meteor strikes, tornados etc? Well, Nature abhors a vacuum, and where a gap exists in Nature, some animal and some plant will adapt to exploit it and make room to live and grow in it. Even if the prior plant or animal can no longer live there.

In 2006 something very bad and mysterious was suddenly happening to the Susquehanna River. A hard-fighting smallmouth bass fishery so good (100-200 fish per day per fisherman) that fishermen came from all around the world to fish (and spend the night and spend their money locally) from Sunbury down to the Conowingo Dam in Maryland, was suddenly gone. Vanished. And gone along with the vanished smallmouth bass were the big predacious muskellunge, brown trout from the feeder stream mouths, largemouth bass, fallfish, sunfish, redeye, and shad.

Within just a few years a highly tangible and visible environmental catastrophe had revealed itself as a long stretch of the Susquehanna River literally went belly up and died. Native aquatic insects, the backbone of all life in the water there, disappeared. Up until 2005, you could stand on a late summer afternoon in Harrisburg along the Front Street Greenbelt walk and watch as the entire river surface practically boiled with dimples from rising fish eating hatching mayflies, caddis flies, and stone flies. In 2006 that whole activity ceased. Literally everything in the river died, and it still has not come back.

Long story short, what caused the demise of the Susquehanna River was a perfect storm of every bad thing that could happen to any waterway anywhere. If it could go wrong for the Susquehanna, it did go wrong in just a few short years, and the sum total was a total unmitigated shock and detonation of the waterway.

Several years of drought and unusually warm summers led to unusually low water flows, which left fish exposed and with no where to hide from predators. The over-heated water then developed algae blooms that robbed the water of its oxygen, suffocating fish and prey crustaceans like crayfish. When large summer thunderstorms happened, they overwhelmed and drowned the many community sewage treatment plants along the river, resulting in “Combined Sewage Overflows” up and down the river. These huge torrents of raw, untreated, undecomposed human filth blasted into the low, warm river water. There was no dilution of the mess, because the river was too low and too slow. One can only imagine that the conditions then were ripe for that human excrement to sit in still waters and become a feast for bacteria, which attacked the few surviving fish and left them with open wound lesions. Then viruses appeared, apparently rejoicing in the poor conditions, further attacking the remaining fish. Finally, when Pennsylvania’s shale gas boom started in 2006, there were some documented and suspected incidents of “midnight dumping”, where large tanker trucks filled with well brine or frack water were illegally unloaded into waterways that, of course, went into the Susquehanna River.

With the demise of the river’s fish, native grasses and watercress, the birds that migrated to, lived on, and migrated down the river, had nothing to eat. They also disappeared. Hundreds of egrets and herons, and huge rafts of ducks and geese used to grace the shores and skies above the river around Harrisburg on any given summer or Fall day. Not any more.

In 2005 one of America’s largest Great Egret rookeries flourished on the islands in the Harrisburg Archipelago across from Harrisburg City. My fishing buddy Ed Weintraub and I used to wade half a mile out to fish among the archipelago’s islands, and marvel at the hundreds of these gigantic pterodactyl-looking birds and their enormous nests. The place sounded like what a Jurassic jungle must have been like, with loud screams, cries, grunts, groans, and other weird sounds from the huge birds and their babies assembled in that relatively small place.  All the boulders jutting out of the river were coated in bright white bird dookie, as were the trees. The entire place stank to high heaven of rotting fish. It was a natural marvel of human-Mother Nature coexistence that reflected the incredible environmental diversity and health of the waterway, despite it being surrounded by huge train yards and human communities. This all was also eventually lost to whatever was ailing the river.

In 2011, while kayaking and wading the unnaturally smelly river in Harrisburg, I contracted MRSA in a tiny scratch on my leg, and then spent four days on a drip IV in a hospital, successfully avoiding the loss of my leg. The river was deader than a doornail and I almost joined it.

Last week two of us took a nice long canoe trip down river, my first in years, to see how the river has changed. We see a few bass fishermen now, local catfish guides brag about sixty-pounders, and walleye boats are out every day. Something in the river must be improved. It seems to be healing, but it is nowhere near where it was twenty years ago. I know that the West Branch of the Susquehanna is greatly improved from twenty years ago, when acid mine drainage turned its waters an unnatural turquoise blue. Now those old mines are washed out by the subterranean springs that first unleashed the mines’ acid, and the cold water is now clean and actually improving the West Branch.

Large bass and catfish -a more rugged critter filling the void left by the formerly numerous smallmouth bass- scurried out of our shadow, and as we approached the Harrisburg Archipelago, we began to see Great Egrets wading around the upstream islands. Lots of them. A juvenile bald eagle patrolled above. We paddled around and through the Archipelago and were surrounded by cormorants (a federally protected pest), mallards, wood ducks, turtles, a snake, and lots of nesting Great Egrets.

The dinosaurs were back on the islands and so were my hopes for a comeback by the river. No metaphysical cataclysmic environmental or political catastrophes were required for Mother Nature to bounce back. She always does, and she always will, despite what the Al Gore type fakirs predict.

The Rockville Bridge is the longest stone arch bridge still in use in the world. I think it is longer than the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Fort William, Scotland, which I have ridden over in a train. The Susquehanna River is slowly recovering from the many things that ailed her, and is now a delight to experience.


Trans-conversation not allowed

“Trans” Definition: Across, beyond, through, changing thoroughly (Random House dictionary, 1987, the best printed book you can have in your home, because it represents the pinnacle of Western Civilization English language before it was thoroughly corrupted with non-definable nonsense which has resulted in the internal collapse of our nation).

To have a meaningful conversation and exchange of ideas (which results in increased understanding and personal growth) across, beyond, and through our natural personal and cultural differences and boundaries, all humans have historically talked to one another. Fifteen thousand years ago, the multitude of Mongolian tribes who had migrated across the climate change Bering land bridge into the Americas all ended up speaking different languages as a multitude of different Indian tribes, and yet interacting directly and honestly with one another across their differences.

In the 1400s, Chinese, Italian, Russian, Portuguese, and Dutch explorers sailed their ships across the planet to meet, communicate, and trade with other cultures with different skin colors and languages. In the 1600s, different European tribes (primarily Anglo-Saxons, Germans, Franks, and Celts) who migrated into the Americas all joined together and amalgamated across their cultural and linguistic boundaries to form a singular national and several regional identities.

All of these humans from the beginning of modern humanity crossed physical, cultural, and linguistic boundaries to exchange ideas and items with one another, often joining together, sometimes disagreeing, but always communicating. No artificial boundaries were allowed. If a boundary or difference between them was unnecessary or served no healthy purpose, then that boundary and difference was discarded. Albeit sometimes by force of arms, but discarded nonetheless.

So, knowing these demonstrable, measurable, definable facts about humans historically communicating with one another, let us ask this important question: What realistic, healthy purpose is served by the unnatural gag order and discriminatory bar on honest conversations about the sexual ideology movement and its resulting trans-sexual assault on women’s rights?

Why can’t the majority of Americans, Canadians, or Europeans presently ask questions and talk fully about this non-sensical, destructive, censorious movement that has taken over academia, medicine, law, and much of government services?

To not only stop Americans from having a conversation about “Trans” athletes destroying women’s sports, but for the pro-Trans movement to then also utterly destroy the personal and professional lives of those people who merely try to have these important conversations demonstrates that this is not a natural human experience we are having right now. Knowing that humans have historically crossed every sort of boundary to reach one another, how can it be said that this aggressive censorship and brutal blocking of communication about the subject is natural and thus healthy?

The simple and honest answer here is that the pro-censorship side is made up of evil, intolerant, discriminatory authoritarians relying on 100% subjective and unprovable nonsense (that has a lot of scientifically proven data contradicting it). People who cannot have an honest debate or discussion, and who try to destroy anyone who even questions much less challenges their orthodoxy, are by definition really bad people. Sure, they try to cloak themselves in righteousness, and they claim that honest discussions cause “harm” to some tiny fraction of humans somewhere. But they are the ones committing the greatest and most widespread harm to the greatest number of people.

These inhuman censorship people must be confronted, shamed, and stopped. As they have pulled out all of the stops to destroy us, so should we pull out all of the stops to fight back. They started this fight; they purposefully undermined every First Amendment right we citizens have enjoyed for 240 years, and so we have every right to fight fire with fire. We are waging a just war back against injustices imposed on us by violent authoritarians. I see our situation as eerily similar to World War Two, where the side representing human freedom and good waged a just war against evil Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy and Japan.

If you have a Woke university asking you for money, decline to contribute and instead support university board candidates who believe in the classical liberal idea of free speech. If you have a Woke township official making bizarre, un-American decisions about your property rights, or demanding that you accept their anti-English language pronouns while they reject your correct pronouns, then mount a strong effort to have them voted out or removed from office. If your kid has a Woke sports coach at school who makes scientifically indefensible decisions about sports competitions and shared locker rooms, then mount an aggressive effort to remove that coach (and similarly defend sports coaches who adhere to scientifically sound decisions). Same for school board members – Woke = bad = run for their seats.

Isn’t it ironic that the one crucial thing that the “Trans” movement does not tolerate is the full communication among all of us and across our different boundaries about the crushing slavery that the Trans movement truly represents and means for the vast majority of us? Even the gay and possibly Trans people in my own family, each of whom I love completely and welcome in my life absolutely and always, cannot tolerate an honest discussion about this subject. Such is the stuff of rigid religious ideologies!

This Trans movement – as it is currently structured and represented – is not a human thing. It is not an innately healthy or honest human experience. Rather, it is an anti-human artificial contrivance operating far outside historic human norms and much more aligned with Nazis, Fascists, and Stalinists.

Because the current Trans movement is an existential threat to you and your essential humanity, it is normal and justified for you to fear it and be phobic of it. It is just one more gruesome face of evil fascism that must be confronted and defeated to save our freedom of choice, freedom of conscience, and physical freedom.