I love the beginning rift, and Mary’s Blood is quickly becoming one of my favorite bands.
Mateo Cortez stepped out of his cool, air-conditioned car into the muggy heat of the Florida afternoon. He felt sweat spring out across his face and back. Florida never really shook the summer heat until late November at the earliest. Mateo could easily expect to wear shorts and sandals for Christmas. At least the bay kept things sort of tolerable.
The office building in front of him gleamed with its newness. Mateo was here to talk with the crew completing the offices for the first tenants. The owners wanted another status report. At least he got along well enough with the crews. They understood he didn’t like these interruptions anymore than they did. He was reaching in for his briefcase when he heard the screams.
Mateo instinctively sprinted into the office building. All he could think was a horrific accident. He fumbled for his phone. Mateo stopped as he saw the workers stampeding to get out of the building. That wasn’t right. These men worked on enough construction sites. Most of them had seen some pretty nasty accidents during their careers. What would send them running for their lives? Mateo spotted the crew’s foreman, Red Shaleman, and yanked the man as he tried to pass Mateo.
“Matt, we need to get out of here. Right now!” the foreman demanded. His eyes were wide with panic. This was definitely not right. Red had nearly thirty years in the business. He was known for being calm under pressure and unflappable in the midst of any crisis. Red wasn’t evacuating a job site after an incident. He was fleeing as fast as he could.
“What’s the problem Red?” Mateo asked as calmly as he could, ignoring the growing pandemonium around the two. Red’s weathered face was tense with shock. The older man couldn’t understand why Mateo wasn’t getting out of the building as fast as he could. Red tried to answer, but the words wouldn’t come. The howling moans that pierced the frantic din answered all of Mateo’s questions.
“Don’t let anyone in here,” Mateo ordered the foreman. Red nodded furiously. Mateo let the man continue running out of the building. He sidestepped as the last few workers sprinted by. Mateo put away his phone. The police weren’t going to be any help until he dealt with the problem. He walked cautiously towards the sound. The moans were definitely coming from the office suite the crew was working on. One of the wooden double doors was jammed open. Mateo stood behind the closed door. He closed his eyes and listened. The moans sounded again. Mateo opened his eyes. There were at least three of them in the office suite. More to the point, those were homing moans. The three weren’t together, but were trying to find each other. Mateo slid off his sports jacket and removed his tie. He drew his Sig P229.
What are zombies doing in Florida? Mateo thought as he peered into the office suite. The reception area was dark with only a little light filtering in from one of the offices. Mateo snuck into the room and pressed the light switch. Nothing. One of the workers probably tore something out by accident in their panic. Mateo took careful steps up to the door separating the reception area from the rest of the office.
To Mateo’s right was a cubicle farm. To the left were the offices. The midday sun streamed through their doorless openings. The light brightened the space between the offices and the cubicles, but the high walls of the cubicles kept the cubicle farm dark. Hunting in there would be nasty and difficult. The walkway between the offices and cubicles stretched back some fifty feet before curving back to a conference room. The zombies moaned again. From the sound, one zombie was in the cube farm. The other two sounded like they were in the conference room. That was a piece of good luck. If they were separated, that made Mateo’s task easier.
First, Mateo needed to deal with the zombie in the cube farm. It was by itself and the closest. Mateo took one look at the darkened cubicles before he fished out the small Surefire flashlight out of his pocket. With the Sig in his right hand and his flashlight in the left, Mateo slowly advanced into the cube farm. The movement was awkward at first, but Mateo’s instructors drilled it into him. It was slow, but it always made sure Mateo was in a stable firing position. It was also very quiet, which was a great benefit when hunting zombies.
Zombies were strange creatures. Not just because they were the walking dead. They didn’t act like any other creature in nature. A zombie would ignore the high-power beam from the Surefire, but any decent noise would bring any zombie within earshot. It was why their moans were so dangerous. A zombie moan could bring the living dead for a half a mile. Of course, if you got too close, the damned things could smell you.
The cubicle farm consisted of two rows of approximately fifteen cubicles with a walkway wide enough for two people. Mateo shone the light down the walkway. No zombie. Probably in one of the cubicles. Mateo wasn’t about to go root it out armed with only a pistol. There were easier ways to commit suicide. A sufficiently dull spoon for example. It would be easier to play the bait. Mateo slipped into the nearest cubicle. It was only the four carpeted walls. The work crews wouldn’t have installed the desks and furniture until the next week. Still, it would give Mateo decent cover.
“COME ON OUT!” Mateo hollered. The sound of a human voice was an irresistible draw for zombies. Better than peanut butter for a raccoon. Mateo braced with his pistol and flashlight up. He was ready to take down the zombie.
Mateo jumped as the cubicle wall crashed down behind Mateo as the zombie burst through. Mateo spun as the zombie stumbled at him. The familiar smell of rotting flesh filled Mateo’s nostrils as he barely escaped the lunging arms. His body fell into the familiar fighting stance as the zombie lunged again. Mateo batted the arms away with his left hand, but couldn’t get his right up for the kill shot. Mateo took a step back and felt the rear foot slide out from under him as he hit the plastic paint cover. Mateo cursed as he hit the carpeted floor. Mateo managed to twist so he fell on his left side. The shoulder shot pain throughout his body as it hit. Mateo managed to ignore the pain as his training took over. The pistol snapped up and barked twice. The bullets slammed into the bridge of the zombie’s nose. Mateo remembered just in time to roll as the zombie collapsed next to him.
Mateo looked at the unmoving corpse. Oh Lord, it was Chris Anders. Mateo despised him when he was alive. Anders acted like the worst stereotype of a construction worker and made Mateo’s job hell on more than one occasion. Yet in that instant, Mateo felt an overwhelming sympathy for the man. In Mateo’s view, death by zombie was one of the most horrific ways to die. At least Anders should be at peace.
The moans snapped Mateo back to the present. Adrenaline shot through his body. He felt the shooting pain from his shoulder lessen. Mateo stood up. The other two zombies were closer. Worse, those were definitely the short, high-pitched hunting moans. Mateo slid out of the cubicle farm back into the main walkway. The filtered daylight illuminated the two shambling zombies. Mateo tried to fall into the Weaver stance, but his left shoulder screamed in pain.
“Buck up boyo,” Mateo said to himself, mimicking his former teammate Collin Dubois, as he brought up the Sig. “Put the bloody lollipop on the stick and squeeze.” The zombie on the right fell as Mateo placed a double tap into its head. Mateo pivoted and placed the white and green dot on the last zombie. It completely ignored its counterpart’s death. It was focused on making Mateo its meal. A second double-tap stopped that from happening.
“Put the weapon down!” commanded an angry voice behind Mateo. Mateo carefully lowered the pistol to the ground. Rough hands grappled Mateo instantly. He was shoved to the floor while his arms were immobilized. One of the hands gripped Mateo’s left shoulder. The pain shot through Mateo’s body with a vengeance. Mateo could feel his body shutting down from the pain and the loss of the adrenaline.
“Oh my God, those are zombies!” exclaimed another voice. Mateo wanted to say something witty. The blackness consumed him before he could make his mouth work.
When presented with a choice between two evils, do not choose the lesser. Choose the exit.
Coming from that bastion of conservative thought known as the BBC comes an article “Crimes Unreported As Public Lose Faith In Police.”
Really? Less than 8% of crimes reported lead to an arrest? And they’re short 10k prison slots? People not reporting crimes because they can’t trust the cops to solve them?
Yet, this is the model that is thrown in our faces when they want to take our guns.
This is a short video from the Virginia Citizens Defense League and starring my friend, Kenn Blanchard.
Take a minute of your day and watch.
Mateo hesitated before rapping on the door. This was his final task before going back to the real world. The deep voice beckoned Mateo to enter. The conference room looked the same as it did when the team gathered that first time. Good Lord, was it less than a month ago? It felt like a lifetime.
Kenn Blanchard sat at the head of the table. Kenn was dressed in black with his preacher’s collar still on. That morning, Kenn presided over Jack’s burial in the island’s small cemetary. In an odd twist of irony, the Australian government forbade Jack from being buried on his native soil. The officials feared the body was contaminated. So, Jack – who so hated this island – would reside here for eternity. Sitting to Kenn’s right was Nigel Brown. The representative from MacKenzie & Winston looked exhausted. From what Kenn said, Brown fought hard with his own firm’s entrenched bureaucracy to ensure that the firm’s ship stayed to extract the team. Then, the liaison went another round with the paper-pushers to ensure the team was taken care of properly. Just when M&W’s middle managers thought Brown would leave them in peace, Nigle charged back in to make sure that the team was paid what was promised by the firm. Mateo was surprised Brown was still employed. To Kenn’s right was Collin DuBois. Collin’s left arm was in a working cast. His normal graceful movements were jerky from the numerous injuries he’d collected during the fight in the temple room. The three men wore compassionate looks on their faces as Mateo lowered himself into a chair across from them.
“The processing of the island has been completed,” Brown reported, “We are still unable to determine how the zombies were raised in the first place. They show none of the expected infections, mutations, or substances that we have observed in other zombies. Mister DuBois believes it was magic.”
“That’s about a good enough explanation as any other,” Mateo answered.
“Yes, well. I thought you, as an American, would frown on such supernatural explanations,” Brown said. Mateo could tell Brown was probing him. Mateo wasn’t in the mood for such nonsense.
“I saw enough on that island. Magic will work fine as an explanation,” Mateo said, flatly. Brown pursed his lips, but changed the subject.
“As to this Dr. de Castilla you encountered, we have been unable to find any trace of the man,” Brown said, “Did he mention any way he could have escaped the island on his own?”
“No, but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t have had one. It’s not like we asked him about it,” Mateo said, “From what we gathered, all of the remaining zombies dropped when I shot Xipe-tzin. Maybe the doc overheard something from Xipe-tzin about a boat or something.” Mateo paused as he considered the possibilities. “No sign of him at all?”
“None. If your teammates hadn’t corroborated your account, I might have thought you hallucinated the doctor.” Brown’s mouth snapped shut as he realized what he said. Mateo shook his head in annoyance. Everyone, with the glorious exception of The Steve, had been walking on eggshells around Mateo since the team arrived on Skull Island.
“Mateo, we’re worried about you,” Kenn said, “You’ve been walking around here with a bad vibe. I’m worried you’re eating yourself up. You can’t blame yourself for what happened.”
“Why shouldn’t I?” Mateo shot back, a little too loud. Collin and Brown flinched a little, but Kenn just kept looking at him with those caring eyes. “Because of me, because of my decision, Sissy is probably going to be in the asylum for the rest of her life. She told me she couldn’t go on, and I forced her into it. Because I wanted another damn shooter along, things went to hell and Quentin lost his leg! Jack’s death I can understand, and I put paid to that debt. Sissy, Quentin, how am I supposed to make it up to them?”
“You saved them didn’t you?” Kenn asked, “Doesn’t that count for anything?”
“I don’t know! It damn sure doesn’t feel like it,” Mateo said before storming out of the room. The three men looked at each other. A tension rose between them.
“I don’t know,” Brown said, finally breaking the silence. “He’s bloody damaged. Right now, that man is no good to us.”
“I hate to side with Nigel, but it looks pretty bleak Kenn,” Collin said, “If what M&W found on the island is true, can we really rely on him? Wouldn’t it be better just to get a new team together?”
“My brothers, you saw a broken man. I saw one who finally opened up so he can be put back together,” Kenn said serenely, “This good Earth of ours is about to go through a tribulation. If we don’t have good men and women ready, we could be facing down an apocalypse.”
“And Mr. Cortez is one of these good men?” Brown asked skeptically.
“Mateo could very well be the best of them all.”
The Brother, The Wife and I have a Slack channel. Mostly it’s just the normal family chatter. Then, sometimes it’s just funny.
Me: Sweet FSM, I think this is the first time I’ve used HLOOKUP to populate a report!
The Wife: That is so cool. How did you do that?
The Brother: I just love how the two of you nerd out on Excel.
Me: You do realize that Excel was a major bonding point for the two of us?
This is the third year I’ve reviewed which podcasts I listen to, how I listen to them, and when I listen to them. Part of it’s my own curiosity at how my podcast habits change. I’m also curious what others think about the same podcasts and which podcasts come and go.
I list the podcasts into some broad groups, with any annotations about frequency I listen to them or general impressions. I listen to my podcasts in Overcast. I prefer Overcast because the app deletes podcasts I’ve listened to, plus it has a smart speed feature which will speed up if it hears dead air. Generally, I listen to my podcasts at 2X speed.
I used to use three playlists, but I’ve consolidated it down to one playlist. I was finding over the past year that I wasn’t listening to my history or writing playlists. So, now I’m just down to my Daily playlist. This is a playlist of what I want to listen to during my commutes, work, and other times. I used to have certain podcasts for certain days/times, but the volume and rate with which I go through podcasts makes that difficult. Some are “promotable”, which means they go to the top. The rest are filler, and I’ll get to them when I can – or just delete them if they don’t capture my interest.
My podcasts as of March 2020:
Friendly Fire – Three guys watching and critiquing war films. Sometimes they get a bit too much into the art of film, or into the wokeness world, but I generally end up enjoying what they bring to the film. This is filler.
The Incomparable Game Show – Rotating panels playing rotating series of obstensibly board games. Often hilarious, sometimes dangerously so when driving. It’s filler.
Penn’s Sunday School – Penn prognosticating on the world with a few of his friends and/or guests. Hilarity ensues. This is a promotable.
The Rewatchables – Variety panel of guests discussing a movie that is considered highly rewatchable. It’s filler.
Roboskull Cast – A Robotech podcast where the hosts go through the episodes and the new comics. One has seen the series, one is watching it, and neither were old enough to watch in ’85. It’s filler.
Cato Events Podcast – Recordings of various panels put on by the Cato Institute. I’ve heard a lot of very interesting discussions and arguments. Some, not so much. I would recommend listening even if the subject doesn’t seem interesting. I’ve been surprised by what I learned. It’s filler.
Econtalk – Economist Russ Roberts does great interviews with a wide variety of guests and topics. I’ve been learning a lot on economics, and some wildly different topics. This is a promotable.
Free Thoughts – Interview podcast on libertarian issues and theories. It’s a filler.
GAO Podcast – GAO discussing some of their reviews they’ve done on federal agencies. This is filler.
Make No Law – Ken White delves into the case law around the First Amendment and free speech. It’s a promotable when it infrequently drops.
Pop & Locke – This one looks at pop culture media (books, TV, movies) through the libertarian lens. It’s filler.
Power Problems – A Cato podcast focusing on foreign affairs. It’s a filler.
The Pursuit – The first season was a great overview of government seizures of private property, with the second going into various abuses of power by the government. It’s filler.
Short Circuit – From the Institute of Justice, this one discusses notable cases that IJ is arguing. I put it under libertarian theory rather than politics because it discusses legal libertarian arguments rather than issues of the day. This is filler.
So To Speak – FIRE’s podcast discussing free speech issues. The guests and legal theories put this more into theory although it sometimes delves into the issues of the day. This is filler.
The SoHo Forum Debates – Oxford-rules debates on a variety of issues. It’s a filler.
The Tom Woods Show – A mainstay of the Mises wing of the libertarian world interviews and discusses events and theories. It’s filler.
Words & Numbers – Two economists from the Foundation For Economic Education discuss different aspects of economics from a libertarian perspective. Sometimes dipping into issues of the day. It’s filler.
Assorted Calibers Podcast – The spiritual successor to the Gun Blog Variety Cast. Weer’d Beard and Erin Pallette are the real reason I listen to this, but the other segments are generally pretty good. I’m also a patron, and listen to the Mag Dump round tables, Film Tracks, and Blooper Reels. This is a promotable.
Concealed Carry Podcast – This is a good podcast that will do interviews or just discussion from the hosts. It’s filler.
Firearms Nation – Interview podcast with leading competition shooters and others to discuss both competition and practical shooting techniques and strategies. It’s a filler.
Geeks Gadgets and Guns – A couple of geeks discussing guns and other geeky stuff. It’s filler.
Gun and Gear Review – This is a good review podcast for new stuff in the gun world. I enjoy the reviews and the banter between the hosts. It’s filler, but may go to promotable in the next year.
Guns Guide To Liberals – This is a good podcast focusing on how to talk about guns and RKBA to those who don’t share our views. It’s a promotable.
Handgun Radio – This one I’ve been enjoying. Especially the in-depth histories of different firearms companies. It’s a promotable.
Handgun World – This one is filler on my Daily playlist. Bob has good information, but sometimes his views annoy me, particularly when he goes off on rising evil. This one’s filler.
Managing Uncertainty – This podcast is mainly focused on risk management from an organizational standpoint, but I find it’s useful as a prepping exercise as well. It’s filler.
MichaelBane.TV On The Radio – This is the successor to DownRange.TV podcast, with Michael opining on the gun world. It’s filler.
Polite Society Podcast – Good information, but often too long if I have a backlog. This one is filler.
Save The Second – Podcast on the current issues with the NRA and the fight to reform the organization. It’s filler.
Self-Defense Gun Stories – I like the analysis of what went right and wrong from a variety of professional trainers. This is another I recommend to new shooters and those who are thinking about using a gun for self-defense. This one is filler.
Skip’s Tactical Solutions Podcast – Avery’s a new voice in the gun podcast world, and I find some of her insights fascinating. It doesn’t hurt that she’s local. I may end up taking a class from her if I can scrape up the cash/time. It’s filler.
This Week In Guns – Three hosts talk on issues in the gun world. It’s a promotable.
Trigger Words – Just subscribed to this one and haven’t made up my mind. It’s filler.
Hardcore History – Dan Carlin’s storytelling on various historical events is spellbinding. This is promotable on the infrequent occasions new podcasts show up.
Hardcore History: Addendum – A companion to the Hardcore History podcast where Dan Carlin does segments outside his normal narrative style. This one is promotable.
The History of WWII Podcast – This one is going through WWII chronologically, with interview episodes interspersed. It’s filler.
Revolutions – Really good series on various revolutions. Each season goes through one of the more pivotal revolutions in history, starting with the English Revolution. This is a promotable.
The Femsplainers – Christina Hoff Summers and her sidekicks discuss free speech, free thoughts, and feminism of the issues of the day. It’s a promotable.
The Long Game – Long interview form podcast with different former and current politicians. This is definitely on the progressive side of the aisle.It’s filler on my Daily playlist.
Popular Front – A look into smaller conflicts going on or unusual aspects of modern warfare. It’s filler.
Quillette Podcast – Interviews and articles focusing in on free speech issues and cancel culture. It’s filler.
The Reason Interview With Nick Gillespie – Reason editor interviews a variety of guests. This would be an even better podcast if they had a different host. It’s filler.
The Portal – Eric Weinstein discusses a variety of subjects with guests. Very high-intelligence demanding. It’s filler.
The Rubin Report – Long form interview with an eye to free speech and social justice zealotry issues. It’s a promotable.
Unregistered with Thaddeus Russell – Thaddeus interviews a varied list of guests. Some are very interesting, some less so. It’s a filler.
War College – An interesting look at politics and military issues through interviews with specialists. It’s filler.
Advisory Opinions – David French and co-host from The Dispatch discuss legal issues and theory on the politics of the day. With some pop culture on the side. It’s a promotable.
The Argument – The New York Times takes the Left, Right, & Center format, takes one big step to the progressive left, and discusses the issues of the day. Sometimes frustrating, but a good look into the minds of on the political left. It’s a promotable.
Cato Daily Podcast – A good quick bit in various topics from a libertarian viewpoint. This is filler.
Contra Krugman – Bob Murphy and Tom Woods tear apart a Paul Krugman column using Austrian economics. It’s filler.
The Dispatch Podcast – Kind of like The Editors, but for The Dispatch. It’s a promotable.
The Economist – I listen to the Economist, because it provides a different perspective and reports on areas that barely hit my normal feeds. This is a promotable.
The Editors – Editors from National Review discussing the issues of the day. Part of my keeping an idea of the conservative side of the issues of the day. It’s a promotable.
The Federalist Radio Hour – Editors of the Federalist website interviews guests about the issues of the day. This is filler.
The Fifth Column – This is a really good roundup focusing on the issues of the day and how the media reports them. It’s a promotable.
Left, Right, & Center – This covers the week’s political events with a progressive, a conservative, a left-leaning centrist, and often some guests. This a promotable.
LRC Presents: All the President’s Lawyers – I picked this one up because Ken White is one of the hosts. It’s a different perspective on Trump’s legal issues than most of my normal feeds. It’s a promotable.
Mad Dogs and Englishmen – Charles Cooke. That’s why I listen to this podcast. It’s a promotable.
The One With Greg Gutfield – Greg does interviews in the way only Greg can do. Currently promotable.
Part of the Problem – Rabid anti war libertarian comedian Dave Smith is interesting. He’s certainly challenging some of my ideas. Particularly when he beers over to the conspiracy theories. Promotable.
The Political Orphanage – Politics of the day with a heaping helping of humor. It’s a promotable.
The Remnant With Jonah Goldberg – Politics of the day from *The Dispatch’s** Jonah Goldberg. It’s promotable.
The Reason Roundtable – Four editors from Reason discuss the issues of the day. It’s a promotable.
Squirrel Report – Three former bloggers talking over the issues of the day. Amusing with gusts of hilarity. It’s promotable.
The Prism Podcast – A dentist and a pediatrician interview guests and discuss skeptical topics. It’s a filler.
Skeptics Guide to The Universe – This was my first science podcast and really helped forge my skepticism. It’s a promotable.
Science Salon – Michael Shermer interviews scientists, scholars, and other intellectuals on a variety of topics. It’s filler.
Skeptoid – Another one that helped in developing my skeptical outlook. It’s filler.
Cults – This goes through various cults that have popped up. It focuses mainly on North American cults in the twentieth century, and generally covers the cult over two episodes. Generally, I wait for both parts to drop and then listen to them together. This is filler.
Espionage – This one talks about particular spies in history and some of their methods. Generally each spy is given two episodes. I wait for both parts to drop and then listen to them together. This is filler.
Hostage – This podcast goes through a particular hostage event. Most are done in two-part episodes, and I generally wait until both parts drop to listen to them together. This is filler.
This Is War – The host relates a combat veteran’s story interspersed with the veteran providing his/her own insights. This is the brutal personal side of combat and its effects on a person – both physical and emotional. It’s filler.
The Way I Heard It With Mike Rowe – After growing up with Paul Harvey’s “The Rest of the Story”, this one is a wonderful substitute. It’s a promotable.
Clockwise – Two hosts and two guests discuss four tech topics in thirty minutes. Generally enjoyable. It’s a promotable.
Daily Tech Headlines – Good summary of big tech stories. It’s promotable.