Reflections on Nomadland. Loss and Love


We watched the Oscar winner last night and I can verify we both woke up this morning depressed. That’s not to say don’t see it. It’s a very well done movie. A lot of that depression is personal as one story in it, by Bob Wells, had a personal resonance with us. But also, if you pare down to the essence of the movie, it’s about the refusal to care again about others because of fear of the inevitable pain of loss. Death is what I call a “no do-over” event that can never be changed. When it happens to someone you love, it stays with you forever and is extremely painful. It springs up at the strangest times and can also blunt happiness with a reminder of loss. Regret and sadness can shrivel life to the bare minimum or one can face it, incorporate it and give life more value.

The ending is a bit open-ending although one can assume by what she did, trying not to give away too much, she closed out that part of her life and was ready to insert herself among people again. But we can’t be sure of that, which is okay. Sometimes it’s good to have open endings. I will say our initial reaction was negative to the ending, but on reflection we felt some hope for a change as we reflected on what was shown and where it ended and her actions.

It’s a slow movie that grows on you over time. It feels like a documentary and actually most of the people in it are telling their own stories with Frances McDormand inserted as a character.

I don’t live out of a van, although I do spend time on the road living out of my vehicles—just traded in my 2012 Jeep Wrangler for a Gladiator so I’ll go from sleeping where the passenger seat was (no back seat) to the bed of the Gladiator. I do it for ease, to be able to go up into the mountains or take long Jeep-Abouts and not have to stop in motels or campground. One theme throughout was enjoying the beauty of nature. A place is not a person or a construct of man and is always there. Nature is not likely to hurt you, although there was one interesting scene in a park where she wandered off.

Most of the movie took place in the west and, as noted, there is a lot of BLM land there so living out of your vehicle is easier than here in the east. Nevertheless in my travels here I come across people living in vehicles in campgrounds and on the side of National Forest roads. There are those who’ve pitched their tent and you can tell from the huge pile of firewood they’re going to be there for a while. Another tell is the tarp over the tent. Campers don’t do that—squatters do. I don’t mean that in a negative way.

One thing that occasionally came up in the movie was that for many, living in a vehicle or a tent is not a choice—it is an economic reality. Those who have never been poor or lived among poor people often don’t understand that kind of life. I do grow disgusted when news pundits and politicians who were born with silver spoons in their mouth pontificate about things which they have no experience in.

One thing that surprised me was how little she cared about the vehicle she lived in. In a way, she couldn’t even really become attached to it, even though she was dependent on it. But that was the theme—caring opens one up to hurt. Protect yourself, even if it means hurting yourself and denying yourself. And, more importantly, denying others. For most of the movie, frankly, Frances character was extremely selfish. She didn’t seem to grasp that others might need her—not just the dog, but other humans. That she could be a plus in their lives and make their lives better. Our time, our most valuable asset which can never be gotten back, is what we offer. Early in our relationship I asked my wife what she though love was and she said “time”.

The movie was very well done, with most things very understated. When she didn’t take the dog offered and simply walked away from it, that was very telling. When she took the seat at the head of the table, after her friend had been in it during the dinner the night before, that was also very telling.

I was impressed with the number and array of jobs she held. I am always impressed when I see people working minimum wage or tip jobs, knowing how far behind economically their time invested makes them in our society. To argue about a minimum wage increase to an amount that still isn’t sufficient infuriates me. Especially as the rich grow richer. How much is enough?

Bottom line? Is it worth your time to watch? Yes. Because it will make you think about how we interact with nature and people and that is what life is about.



Of all natural disasters, wildfires are among the most dangerous. They can spring up quickly and spread very fast.

The United States averages over 73,000 wildfires every year. They cause 2 billion dollars worth of damage annually. Over 7 million acres are burned annually. They kill over 340,000 people worldwide each year.

All fires start small. All fires go out. Eventually. What is key is what happens in between.

A wildfire is an unplanned, unwanted fire. They can be caused naturally, usually by lightning. However, most are human-initiated, either by campfires, cigarettes, broken power lines, outdoor burning that gets out of control or arson.

They can occur any time throughout the year. The potential is greatest during periods of drought. High winds make a wildfire very dangerous and unpredictable. They can move very fast!

Make sure you know what your local wildfire alert system is. Normally, alerts are broadcast to all cell phones within range. However, because wildfires are unpredictable and can shift quickly depending on winds, be proactive in tracking any wildfire. There are several maps that indicate threat levels. Here is a page that collects several.

They kill humans and animals They destroy buildings and structures They destroy far from the actual fire— embers can be blown by the wind and set fire to structures over a mile away Smoke can kill and cause health issues, even many miles away Wildfires affect the land for years after with lost vegetation and the subsequent greater threat of flood and landslides.

A fast-moving wildfire has a wall of heat in front of it that you cannot see. But you will feel it. It will spontaneously combust flammable material even when there is no visible flame. The larger the fire, the more it makes its own wind.

Keep your roof and gutter free of leaves. Store firewood at least thirty feet away from structures (do not pile up on an outside wall). Outdoor furniture should be made of noncombustible material. Clear the area around your house of combustible material, such as leaves, bark, pine needles, and underbrush. The optimum clear area is 100 feet.

If constructing in a wildfire area, carefully choose fire-proof materials not only for the building, but also gates, fences, landscaping, etc.

Know your evacuation routes. Plan your transportation. If you need to share, make preparations now. Realize public transportation is likely to be disrupted. Find out what your community has planned in case of evacuation. Have a pre-planned place to stay if evacuated. Have your IRP (Immediate Rally Point), ERP (Emergency Rally Point) and out of area contact ready and everyone updated on them. (explained in Survival Guide)

There are wildfire apps listed on my free Slideshare page in the Wildfire slideshow.

Know how to use fire extinguishers, evacuate your house, etc. as you would in normal fire preparation. More on that in my slideshare on FIRE, on the slideshow page.

Use caution any time you start a fire. Do not use welders or equipment that sparks on dry, windy days. Do not park in tall, dry grass or piles of leaves; the heat from your exhaust system could ignite them. Keep propane and gas away from structures.

Be ready to evacuate. Besides your Grab-n-Go bag here are special considerations and advice from those who’ve been affected by wildfires: fuel your car and keep it topped off, even if you think you are not under direct threat. Make a video of everything in your house and store it in the cloud or elsewhere for insurance purposes. Have key documents in a secure fireproof box packed and ready to be grabbed. Also, uploading the information into the cloud gives you a backup. Load copies onto a thumb drive kept elsewhere.

Pack enough supplies (Grab-n-Go) but water is the most critical! If evacuated, call your insurance company ASAP so they can start a claim #. Keep receipts of everything you buy while evacuated.

Key things to pack: Drivers license/photo ID/Passport Social Security Card Bank and credit cards Health insurance card Roadside assistance card Cash Extra fuel WATER

Key things to have packed and ready to go: Phone charger. Deed for house. Insurance paperwork. Prescriptions. First aid kit ( a complete list is in Survival Guide)

Leave as soon as you get notice. You cannot defeat a wildfire. People are more important than a house or objects. Leave gates open for firefighters and others. Drive with headlights on. If it’s smoky close all windows and set recirculate.

If trapped in your car, park in an area clear of vegetation— parking lot, gravel area, dirt. Close all windows and vents. Cover yourself with a blanket or coat and lie on the floor. Car tires may burst from heat.

If trapped in your house: Use a hose or sprinkler to wet the yard. Wet the roof. Turn off all propane and gas. Close all windows and doors and fireplace flues. Move fabric furniture away from large windows or glass doors. Turn off everything that circulates air in the house. Close all interior doors.

Turn on all lights to make the house more visible from the outside for rescuers. Disconnect automatic garage door openers so you can open by hand if you lose power. If you have a pool, put outdoor furniture in it. Fill everything possible with water (tubs, sinks, etc)

Wildfires are one of the most frightening and dangerous natural disasters. Being prepared can bring peace of mind. And save your life!

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

How to Prevent Getting Lost and What To Do If You Are Lost

Daniel Boone

We can get lost in a variety of ways. I work under Daniel Boone’s precept.

While I’ve done a lot of land navigation, both day and night, and spent considerable time working off of maps during training and on deployments, there have been times when I’ve gotten ‘confused’. My experience is that once I got lost, it could easily escalate into something worse, unless I follow some guidelines.

As with all aspects of preparation and survival there are numerous variables. We should be properly prepared before any trip with the correct supplies to keep from getting lost such as GPS with applicable map tiles loaded, paper map backups (including in your car), a compass, signal mirror, whistle, signal panel and more.

Know how to us a map and compass. Remember, a compass can’t tell you which way to go if you don’t have an idea where you are. Your local REI stores runs courses on basic land navigation. There is no substitute for actually getting out there and actually doing it.

A big key is if you are off road is to know what is your ‘safe’ direction. That’s the direction where you will eventually hit a known line, whether a road, rail-line, river, etcetera which will let you know where you are. Then you also need to know whether to turn left or right on that limit to get to safety.

Have enough food and water for whatever activity you plan, plus a bit extra.

Always have a paper map and compass. You can lose your GPS/phone or the battery might die.



Let someone know where you’re going. What your plan is. When you expect to be back. An important key is to tell them after what time, without hearing from you, they should notify help. I do this even if just heading out for a bike ride or run. I use Road ID when I go for hikes/bikes/runs where there is cell phone coverage. I check in with my SPOTX when going on longer or overnight trips. If I change plans for any reason, I update my contacts for both.

At a trailhead it pays to leave a note inside your car/truck window, facing out, with information on what your plans on. When you expect to be back. I’ve checked trucks and cars at trailheads and most are unmarked. I know there might be a fear that someone would break in to the car, but weigh that against not making it back?

Fill out wilderness permits and check in at Ranger Stations. Make yourself noticeable. A couple was left behind on a scuba trip because they kept to themselves, didn’t interact with others and no one missed them on the trip back.


Should you stay or should you go?

For most situations, it’s best to stay in place.

If you are injured. Don’t exacerbate your injury by moving.

Search and Rescue will start at the last known place you were or where they think you are. Moving could take you out of the likeliest search area. If you’re lost and don’t have a plan, you will get more lost.




Search and Rescue is usually free. The reason for that is often these teams are made up of volunteers. More importantly, they don’t want people to hesitate to call. When in doubt, Call 911 because most teams work through the local sheriff’s office. Remember, a text has a better chance getting through than voice if your signal is shaky. Conserve your phone’s battery as much as possible. If you make contact, set up a time to check in so you can turn the phone off in between.

The key rule to follow is STOP:

STOP: As soon as you suspect you are lost immediately STOP. Many people panic and while in that panic make the situation worse. Panic is your greatest threat.

THINK: How did you get here? What landmarks do you remember? Which way did you turn if you left an established trail? What direction? Do not move until you have a specific reason.

OBSERVE: Which direction is north? Do you have boundaries such as a river, mountain range, road, etcetera that you know for certain are in a certain direction?

If you are on a trail or road stay on it. Roads and trails are built to take advantage of the easiest route. While you might think taking a “shortcut” cross-country might save time and distance, it won’t.

As a last resort, follow drainage downhill. Streams run into rivers and there is usually civilization along rivers. However, depending on terrain, this might not be possible. Also, try not to get wet, especially if the temperature will drop, as hypothermia is deadly.

Can you follow your own trail back to the last known spot? Footprints? Broken branches?


Before moving make sure you have a plan. Think the plan through. Are there other options?

If you are not confident in your plan, stay in place.

Don’t move at night. When we were heading toward the Grand Canyon, my wife said she thought people probably fell into it. When we got there, I saw she was right. Anyone who has been on patrol at night can tell stories of the cat eyes on the back of the cap of the patrol member right in front disappearing as they fell off a ledge or cliff.


STOP: As soon as you suspect you are lost immediately STOP. 

Many people panic and make the situation worse.

THINK: How did you get here?  What landmarks do you remember?

Do not move until you have a specific reason.

OBSERVE: Get oriented. Which direction is north?

If you are on a trail or road stay on it.

Roads and trails are built to take advantage of the easiest route.

PLAN: Before moving make sure you have a plan.

Think the plan through. Are there other options?

If you are not confident in your plan, stay in place.

Signal for help: Cell phone. Satellite messenger. Mirror or anything reflective.

The universal distress signal comes in threes: three blasts on a whistle.

Make a smoky fire. Green leaves and grass help. Ruber makes black smoke. The flame at night is a signal. A VS-17 or bright clothing can be used to signal.

To aim a mirror, hold it in the palm of your hand. Extend the other hand with two fingers forming a V in the direction you want to signal. Angle the mirror so that the reflected light passes through the V.

If you must self-rescue:

Rest when you feel tired. Don’t push it too hard so that you become exhausted.

You can’t hike and easily digest food at the same time. Eat and then rest.

Stay hydrated.

Mark your trail as you move, so at the very least, if need be, you can get back to where you started.


Make sure your child knows both parent’s full name, phone number and address. Memorizing key phone numbers is a skill all of us need to practice.

Have your child practice calling your phone.

Teach your child how to ask for help. While we emphasize ‘never talk to strangers’ tell them who it is best to ask: police, a mother with a child, a store salesperson with a name tag, a security guard.

Tell them not to go looking for you if they become detached. It is best they stay in place and you find them.

Excerpt from The Green Beret Preparation and Survival Guide

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

Would The Military Conduct a Coup and Overthrow the President?

The Line

High Praise for The Line from Publishers Weekly: “Mayer has crafted a military thriller in the tradition of John Grisham’s The Firm.” Kirkus: “So convincing, that by the last page, readers may doubt the official version of the last 50 years.” Written by a New York Times Bestselling Author, West Point Graduate and Green Beret.

I wrote The Line some years ago. My main inspiration was to update the classic Seven Days in May. But I was also concerned about the growing power of the military-industrial cabal. The one that has kept us in forever war for varying reasons.

No other institution has had such a great impact on our history as the United States Military Academy. Two Presidents of the United States; the President of the Confederate States of America; 18 NASA astronauts; 76 Medals of Honor; Grant, Lee, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Bradley— the list of graduates and their accomplishments is long.

But deep inside the Academy, there is a secret organization, known to only the handful recruited into it from each class. THE LINE.

They’ve steered our country through war and peace. Doing whatever they thought was necessary. At the end of World War II they even killed one of their own.

They’ve forced Presidents into going to war.

But now, in a time of growing political dissent and terrorism, they realize they have only one last resort.

In the vein of Seven Days in May, a story ripped from the headlines about the unbelievable, but possible, as only an insider can tell it. The Line

What they didn’t count on was two graduates, who weren’t members of The Line, to stay true to their Oath of Office to the Constitution.

Having taken that Oath upon graduating West Point, Delta Operative Boomer Watson and Intelligence officer, Benita Trace, begin to uncover clues leading to what they had considered unthinkable.

What they learn? The Line plans to take out the President on Pearl Harbor Day during a ceremony in Hawaii.

From the Ukraine to Pearl Harbor to the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, it becomes a race against time for Boomer and Trace to keep our country whole as the 7th of December looms.

Amazon Audible Barnes and Noble Nook Kobo Apple

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall

Basic Facts: Length: 5,500 miles (8,850 kilometers) With all branches included, it measures 13,171 miles (21,196 kilometers) Started: Various walls were initiated as early as the 7th Century BC. But it was Shi Huang, in 220 BC, who is credited with starting what we now know as the Great Wall. The majority of the current wall was built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Why was it built? Besides defense, it was also built for border control, so tariffs could be imposed on trade goods, and control of immigration and emigration.

During early construction of the wall, the labor force was made up of soldiers and convicts. It’s estimated over 400,000 lost their lives during the Shi Huang phase of construction. The dead were buried in the Wall and became part of it. While it is difficult to accurately assess, it is estimated the Wall cost the equivalent of 360 billion modern US dollars.

Most of the Wall as we know it now was built, or rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty. After Beijing was proclaimed the capital in 1421, construction on the Wall picked up.

The wall’s actual effectiveness is debated. It is agreed that it had a significant psychological effect for the country, as an emblem of strength against outsiders. While it was designed against Mongols from the north, support for it collapsed when China, instead of battling their neighbors, began trading and forged economic ties that benefited both sides.

While the Wall is a great tourist attraction these days, the reality is that throughout Chinese history, the Wall was view mostly in a negative light. As a sign of government oppression, cruelty and death.

A popular myth is that the Wall can be seen from space. The reality is that it can be, but only with assistance; not with the naked eye. Below, it is difficult to see the Wall; while the river is much more visible.

Greag Wall

Interesting Facts about the Great Wall:

1. Rice Flour was used to make the cement to bind bricks for the Wall during its early construction.

2. Over 10 million tourists visit the Wall annually.

3. During the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) many bricks from the Great Wall were taken to construct buildings and even dams.

4. In many places the top of the Wall is so wide, a car can drive along it.

5. A mythical story is Men Jiangsu’s Bitter Weeping— where a woman whose husband died building the Wall, cried so bitterly, her tears collapsed a section of the Wall, so she could recover his body for proper burial.

Of course, there are those who postulate other theories about the purpose of the Great Wall. What if, built into the Wall, there is a message? Designed to be seen only from space, but only to those with the technology for space flight and the optics to discern it?

Two ancient rivals from another world are vying to dominate Earth, and Mike Turcotte and his team must choose which army to side with. The key to averting the crisis lies in a single weapon: Excalibur. The mythical, legendary sword of King Arthur is real and can unlock a galactic power beyond what anyone—human or alien—has ever seen. And Mike must keep it from falling into the wrong hands. The race to recover Excalibur will lead the players all across the globe—from the ancient pyramids to the Great Wall of China, from a fortress on Easter Island to the heights of Mount Everest—in a high-stakes game in which the fate of humanity is the ultimate prize.

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

UNIT 731: The Most Horrific Unit of World War II

Unit 731

Officially known as The Epidemic Prevention and Water Purification Department of the Kwantung Army in Manchuria. Realizing that they would be behind the west in technology for weapons, particularly in the nuclear field, the Japanese turned to experimenting on humans to discover biological and chemical weapons to tip the balance of the war in their favor. Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army.

It was located in Harbin, in Manchuria. This was outside of mainland China and where a steady supply of Chinese prisoners could be experimented on.

It is estimated that 250,000 people (men, women and children) perished in Unit 731’s experiments. Most were Chinese, Korean and Mongolians. There were also a handful of Allied (Australian, British and American) POWs sent there, in order to make sure various diseases worked the same on Caucasians.

Biological warfare is the use of infectious agents or toxins to incapacitate or kill humans, plants or animals. As long as there has been warfare, humans have used biological warfare in various forms.

The problem with biological weapons has always been that they are indiscriminate. They kill the side employing them as much as the side they are used against. The Japanese were working on ways to target certain ethnic groups.

While the primary purpose mission of Unit 731 was to develop biological weapons, the Unit also conducted other experiments such as:


Vivisection without anesthesia

Effects of shrapnel on exposed victims tied to stakes in a field Testing

Conducted Brain surgery to see which parts of the brain controlled various motor functions

Effect of syphilis (looking for treatment for soldiers)

Amputation to study blood loss rates

Female prisoners were raped in order to impregnate them in order to study the transmission of various diseases to the fetus. Testing Conducted

If a sick medical mind could think of it; it was tested at Unit 731.

Victims were referred to as Meruta. (Logs)

The unit was under the command of General Shiro Ishii He was never prosecuted.

In fact, at the end of the war, the United States did not prosecute a single member of Unit 731. Instead, we took the records of the experiments. Much as we took the Nazi scientists in Operation Paperclip. As recently as 2003, the Japanese government still refuses to acknowledge what really went on in Unit 731.

What is on the horizon, and probably already being developed in secret, are genetic weapons, which are targeted toward specific ethnicities and/or genotypes. The implications of such weapons are staggering. Genetic Weapons

I have written about Unit 731 in several books, partly in an attempt to publicize this blight in history. I also cover how to prepare for and what to in case of biological warfare. It is features in the Area 51 series and in my thriller that mixes history with present terrorism The Gate.

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

Kennedy Assassination Theories 22 November 1963

Kennedy Assassination Theories

The Warren Commission determined in 1964 that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. In the half a century since, polls have never indicated more than 30% of American believe that.

Vincent Bugliosi estimates that 214 different people have been accused in various conspiracies ranging across 42 groups with 82 possible gunmen.

In 1979, the United States House Select Committee on Assassination concluded that a second gunman besides Oswald probably fired at Kennedy. Afterwards, the acoustic evidence it used for this determination was dismissed.

From the beginning there was a rush to cover- up what happened. Discrepancies include the body being taken from Texas back to Washington the same day of the shooting and illegally.

The original autopsy was destroyed. What was thought to be the original, to the right, is one made later. The original photos from the autopsy also went missing.

Kennedy had many enemies, including numerous Americans.

Earlier in 1963, after being arrested in New Orleans, Oswald asked to speak to the FBI. He did, but just a memo that the talk occurred was filed. The FBI never followed up. Why?

Sam Giancana, from the Chicago “Outfit” and Kennedy actually shared a mistress at one point, Judith Campbell Exner. She arranged meetings between Kennedy and Giancana regarding assassinating Castro.

Giancana, and the Outfit, had supposedly helped Kennedy win Chicago, and thus Illinois, in the 1960 election. They felt Kennedy wasn’t living up to his end of the “deal.”

Carlos Marcello, head of the New Orleans mob, wasn’t happy with the Kennedy brothers. Bobbie Kennedy had him deported out of the country and dumped in the middle of Guatemala in 1961. Jack Ruby, who would shoot Oswald, was supposed to be in debt to Marcello.

Kennedy’s Administration had sanctioned the Bay of Pigs and several assassination attempts on Fidel Castro.

Kennedy had faced down the Russians during the Cuban Missile Crisis, forcing their ships to turn back. In return, of course, but little known, we removed our Jupiter missiles from Turkey and Italy.

There are many theories, but none of them quite fit. It seems as if the top level of government would have to be in on the coverup if there was more to it than just Oswald. Why would it do that?

What if the answer were very simple? That there were two ‘gunmen’. And the identity of the 2nd gunman is the reason for the cover-up which began immediately?

The first gunman was, of course, Lee Harvey Oswald.

It’s the second gunman that’s the problem. A Secret Service Agent in the follow car.

The Agent, not part of the normal security detail, was issued a weapon he wasn’t familiar with, an AR-15. Upon hearing the first shot, he jumped to his feet. Just as the car accelerated, also in response to the first shot. Losing his balance, the agent accidentally discharged the weapon. Kennedy had already suffered a wound that would be fatal, but this round was the infamous head shot and has given birth to many of the conspiracy theories.

Could such an accident be admitted? Or was the reality known by those who made the decisions, including the President’s widow, and the decision was made to keep it quiet?

We may never know. But what did Mrs. Kennedy mean when, during the viewing of her husband’s body in the Rotunda, she told Russian Ambassador Mikoyan: “I am sure that Chairman Khrushchev and my husband could have been successful in the search for peace, and they were really striving for that. Now the Chairman must continue the agreed upon endeavor and bring it to completion.”

What was The Kennedy Endeavor? Why was his mistress, Mary Meyer, killed a year later? Why was Khrushchev forced out of power the very next day? What was in Mary Meyer’s diary that disappeared?

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

The Great Sphinx

The Great Sphinx

Over 4,500 years ago, the Great Sphinx was carved out of a quarry on the Giza Plateau. It has the body of a lion and the head of a man.

It is part of a larger complex with Temples and causeways containing the Giza Pyramids.

It is speculated the head bears the visage of Khafre, the ruler of Egypt who commissioned it. Legend is that Napoleon had a cannon shoot the nose off, but the reality is that it was missing by the time he got there, destroyed by Turks over a hundred years before.

This is how it is imagined to have originally looked.

Between the paws is the “dream stella”, which is inscribed with a story, that Thutmosis, if he cleared the sand from the Sphinx, would become king of Egypt.

Some have claimed that the Sphinx has been weathered by rain. This is open to debate, but climatologists have recently revealed it is possible that for its first 500 years, the weather was much wetter on the Giza Plateau.

While we think we know why the Sphinx was carved and the mighty Pyramids built, there are always possibilities. Especially for a fiction writer.

Area 51: The Sphinx: Dr. Lisa Duncan and Special Forces officer Mike Turcotte know better than anyone that no secret is safe for long—especially one that offers untold power. Case in point: no sooner does Turcotte’s elite Area 51 team uncover a dormant alien ship in earth orbit than a group of alien-human hybrids seizes it and uses its technology to commandeer a satellite array bristling with nuclear missiles. Now they’re demanding that humankind hand over the key to an ancient stash of alien technology…or watch an entire continent be reduced to atomic rubble. Doom seems certain, as the required key is believed lost to the ages—until an anthropologist discovers the first of many clues to its hiding place. As Duncan and Turcotte race to reach the key—and the powerful treasure it can unlock— ahead of their alien foes, the quest leads them deep into a deadly maze within the Great Sphinx of Giza. The prize? Nothing less than the legendary Ark of the Covenant.

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

The STATEN ISLAND PEACE CONFERENCE almost ended the Revolution in 1776

Staten Island Peace Conference

 Could the Revolution Have Ended in 1776?

Travel back in time to Staten Island, New York on 11 September 1776 A.D. The day Benjamin Franklin and John Adams meet Admiral Lord Howe to discuss the possibility of peace between Britain & the Colonies. There is the slight complication that a few years previously, Benjamin Franklin had left the sister of Admiral Howe with child while visiting England.

This occurred after George Washington was defeated in what would be the biggest battle of the Revolution, on Long Island and forced to withdraw up Manhattan Island. The British would occupy then New York City for the rest of the war. It would become a haven for runaway slaves, including two of George Washingtons’s.

“They met, they talked, they parted. And now nothing remains but to fight it out.” — British report after the Staten Island Peace Conference 11 September 1776

According to history, neither Admiral Howe nor Franklin and Adams, have any real authority from their respective governments to negotiate.

For his 24-hour bubble in time, Time Patrol Agent, Doc arrives prior to the meeting. Doc quickly learns that is not the case. That there is a real possibility of history being changed.

George Washington has just been defeated on Long Island, and his army is being threatened across the Hudson on York (Manhattan) Island.

What if a peace is negotiated? And the Revolution ends in 1776 with the colonies still part of England?

As the peace conference gets underway, Doc must decide how to stop the negotiations and keep our history intact But at what cost?

What of the legend of a ghost in Billopp House, where the meeting was held, on the southwestern corner of Staten Island? The ghost of a servant girl killed by the owner who believed she betrayed him to the Colonists?

This is one of the missions in Nine-Eleven (Time Patrol)

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at

The Classic ROGER’S RULES OF RANGERING which still apply

Rogers Rules

Major Robert Rogers in 1759 wrote Standing Orders, Rogers Rangers, from lessons learned in the first 3 years the Rangers were formed. These are at least 17 rules. Simple rules, but learned at the cost of blood. All SOPs are guidelines.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP): A step by step procedure written down that delineates how things should be done correctly. They can serve many purposes, but for a survival situation they give you a proper plan of action in the midst of stress. It is too late once an emergency occurs to come up with SOPs.

1. DON’T forget nothing.

2. HAVE your musket clean as a whistle, hatchet scoured, sixty rounds powder and ball, and be ready to march at a minute’s warning.

3. WHEN you’re on the march, act the way you would if you was sneaking up on a deer. See the enemy first.

4. TELL the truth about what you see and what you do. There is an army depending on us for correct information. You can lie all your please when you tell other folks about the Rangers, but don’t never lie to a Ranger or Officer. Ranger Assault at Pointe du Hoc, D-Day

5. DON’T never take a chance you don’t have to.

6. WHEN we’re on the march we march single file, far enough apart so one shot can’t go through two men. With my team, Winter Warfare Training above 10,000 Feet, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne)

7. IF we strike swamps, or soft ground, we spread out abreast so it’s hard to track us.

8. WHEN we march, we keep moving till dark, so as to give the enemy the least possible chance at us.

9. WHEN we camp, half the party stays awake while the other half sleeps.

One of my Ranger Handbooks is above. Slightly worse for wear.

10. IF we take prisoners, we keep ’em separate till we have had time to examine them, so they can’t cook up a story between ‘em.

11. DON’T ever march home the same way. Take a different route so you won’t be ambushed. 12. NO matter whether we travel in big parties or little ones, each party has to keep a scout 20 yards ahead, 20 yards on each flank, and 20 yards in the rear so the main body can’t be surprised and wiped out.

13. EVERY Night you’ll be told where to meet if surrounded by a superior force. Don’t sit down to eat without posting sentries.

14. DON’T sleep beyond dawn. Dawn’s when the French and Indians attack.

15. DON’T cross a river by a regular ford.

16. IF someone’s trailing you, make a circle, come back onto your own tracks, and ambush the folks that aim to ambush you.

17. DON’T stand up when the enemy’s coming against you. Kneel down, lie down, hide behind a tree. Let the enemy come till he’s almost close enough to touch, then let him have it and jump out and finish him up with your hatchet.

SOPs are an essential part of emergency and survival preparedness.

I also have written about Major Rogers and the execution of Nathan Hale in Equinox (Time Patrol).

A free slideshow on this topic and many others about interesting history, survival, writing and other topics is on my web site at