Our Initiatives

Winter Blessings for the Homeless 2018:

With contributions from Sporting Smiles Pediatric Dentistry and Family Orthodontics, the Life Church of Manassas, Orange Volunteer Fire Company, and the other numerous individuals, this initiative was able to collect a total of 2,148 items. These donations went to the homeless of Washington, D.C. and. Northern Virginia, as well as a few individuals noted below.

One coat, hat, and pair of gloves went to a five-year-old boy whose struggling parents had brought him illegally into the United States from Honduras. His parents were arrested, and he was placed under the custody of a relative who was struggling financially and could not afford winter clothes for him. Due to this, he had severe bronchitis which almost escalated to pneumonia. When the coat was given to him, he did not know what to do with it, as he had never had anything like that before. Another three coats, hats, and pairs of gloves went to the three young sons of a woman who was being beaten by her husband, and built up the courage to leave him, though she had no access to any of the boys’ personal items. These materials will help to keep them warm this winter.

This initiative was one step forward in helping to carry humanity into a better future. The totals of individual items donated are listed below. M denotes men’s items, W denotes women’s item, and K denotes kids items.

  • Coats and Jackets – 134:  41M, 29W, 64K
  • Shirts and Sweaters – 314:  17M, 193W, 104K
  • Hats – 138:  58 adult, 80K
  • Scarves – 14:  11 adult, 3K
  • Pairs of Gloves – 77:  37 adult, 40K
  • Pairs of Socks – 117:  103 adult, 14K
  • Pairs of Shoes – 20:  6 adult, 14K
  • Pants – 178:  89 adult, 89K
  • Blankets – 45:  30 adult, 15K
  • Toiletries, Heat Packs, and Medical Supplies – 904
  • Baby Diapers – 15
  • Bibs – 13
  • Packs of Baby Wipes – 6
  • Baby Onesies – 100
  • Toys – 41
  • Duffel Bags/Backpacks – 9
  • Women’s Bras – 9
  • Books – 4
  • Sleeping Bags –  3
  • Canned Foods – 2
  • Pillows – 1
  • Belts – 1
  • Thermal Bags – 1
  • Refillable Water Bottles – 1
  • Bassinets/Co-sleepers – 1



Considering Evolution

Why do I often post about evolution on my social media?

Gallup reports that 46% of Americans believe that a God created humans in their present form less than 10,000 years ago. I’m not against the idea of a god (however you may define and test for that) existing, but I have respect for the scientific method and scientific community, and trust the efficacy of each.

No, I don’t think there’s some massive conspiracy to hide the truth. Yes, the universe indicates to us that it is around 14 billion years old. Yes, evidence indicates that all life came from a common ancestor, split into different branches, and evolved over thousands of generations into its current diverse forms. Yes, this includes humans. Yes, evidence indicates that the genus homo evolved from early Australopiths in Africa. No, this does not mean we came from monkeys, but we are classified as apes.

Why is it important that people accept the truth of biological evolution, common descent, and the old age of the universe? I believe societies, as well as individuals, function best when they hold as many true beliefs as possible. I am dedicated to truth, I want to see people and civilization flourish, and I believe that blatant denial of evidence without further consideration is damaging to society.

If you have a challenge or possible refutation for any aspect of the above scientific fields of inquiry, do a google search and try to find some scientific literature or counter-refutations on the topic to see if the belief you hold is true. That is, if you trust the efficacy of the scientific community and wish to be an honest individual. This is not to question the character of any individual, it is a plea to consider the evidence provided to us. If you were wrong, wouldn’t you want to know?

King of the Sentient, Part 1: The Blood Devil

I don’t have a lot of time to write this. It’s not important who I am. The only thing that’s important right now is that I tell you this story. I only have a quick break from dealing with the regular inter-universal portal traveling creatures from the most bizarre and alien environments. By some unearthly combination of mysterious circumstances have I ended up here, in a cave, in the mountains of Virginia, staring at the skeleton of a hellish monster. This… thing had enormous wings, and a humanlike body which stretched about 10 feet long. It’s mouth was wide and gaping, with hundreds of thin needle-like teeth.

But the strangest thing about this discovery; there was what looked to be a knife made from a deer antler sticking right through the creature’s skull, having been thrust directly through the center of the forehead. In addition to this, there was what looked to be a small, 6in x 4in rustic brown leather-bound wallet or book of some kind, lying about 10 feet from the creature. Curiously, I walked over to investigate the strange finding; not stranger than the skeleton, I’ll admit, but strange because that means I have not been the first to see this creature.

I picked up the seemingly-ancient object and opened it. Upon reading the small, cursive English on its antique pages, I realized this was a journal… the journal of the man who hunted the creature that lies deceased before me. Here’s what it read:

Journal Entry

The 31st of October, 1899.

Here I am, sitting alone in front of a campfire, composing what will likely be my last words written. My surroundings are drowned in impossible darkness, the palest glimmer of moonlight delivering only a hint of the cold, malicious wild lying just beyond the light of my fire. The only sound to be heard is a soft breeze blowing the crispy autumn leaves into a gentle dance. Where I’m from, the only people foolish enough to venture into these woods alone at night grant the evil of this world permission to haunt their very existence, if they are so lucky to survive.

My grandfather told me about it; about the terror that awaits those who venture into the Shenandoah wilderness on the night that the witches hold most sacred, about the creature that awaits the most curious and foolhardy of townsfolk. The only of those in my small Virginia town who have so impulsively pursued a glimpse of this creature… well, their bodies were later discovered. The strangest part is that none of them appear to have sustained any life threatening injuries, and their bodies… their bodies are completely drained of blood. Whatever demon drained the life from these people is still out there. My grandfather shot it in 1858, but to this day it hunts and kills the residents of Appalachia.

My grandfather was a hardened, bloodyfisted Irishman who immigrated to the states in 1851, to escape a great famine plaguing his home nation. Upon arrival, he used what little money he had to start his own business as a butcher. Quite successful in his early years, he was well known around the local towns. 

In 1854, he bought a small piece of land outside of town at the base of Mount Sowen, where he built a barn for his animals and a small cabin for he and my grandmother to live in. Soon after moving in, they had a son; my father. During the night, my grandfather would keep his animals inside the barn to protect them from potential predators and thieves. However, in the late summer of his eighth year as a butcher in the states, a heavy windstorm damaged his barn to the point that it became unusable.

Due to this, his animals were forced to remain outdoors within a small fenced-in perimeter for the months of September through November, while my grandfather worked to repair the barn. Townspeople had warned him against keeping his animals outside this time of year, and cited local folklore describing a devilish creature which haunts the mountain on Halloween. Being a realist, my grandfather regarded such stories as nothing more than superstitious hogwash invented by simple-minded gabhdán (an Irish term for “gullible”).

He purchased a few dogs to protect the animals, and to alert him if any predators or thieves were to wander onto his property. On the night of Halloween, 1858, he and my grandmother awoke to the sound of his dogs snarling and barking ferociously in the yard. My grandmother ran to my father’s room to comfort and protect him. My grandfather jumped out of bed, lit an oil lantern, grabbed his hunting rifle and made his way to the door. Entering into the main living room, his shirt snagged on a splintered board in the doorway, causing him to stumble and drop his rifle on the floor. Chaos continued to erupt in the yard as he worked to free his shirt. He finally broke free and picked up his rifle, but upon opening the front door, he heard the sounds of his dogs whimpering in pain before falling silent.

At this point, he was furious. He frowned, gripped his rifle tightly, and started running toward the yard. As he turned the rear corner of his cabin, in the bright light of the full moon he saw several of his animals, including his dogs, lying lifeless in the center of the yard. A remaining 3 chickens and 1 pig cowered behind the still-damaged barn. He immediately suspected that a bear had mauled his animals, as the dogs would have likely scared off a mountain lion, and a pack of coyotes would not have been so quick in their execution of such a heinous crime.

He scanned the yard and the surrounding woods for any sign indicating that the culprit was still near. When he saw nothing, he quickly made his way over to his slaughtered livelihood. As he tilted the lantern downward toward the lifeless bodies, he noticed that something was… off. Something was missing. None of these animals appeared to have any injuries or noticeable signs of having been attacked. There were no lacerations, and no blood.

In a panic, he quickly stood to his feet and pointed his rifle toward the treeline behind his property. As he did this, he saw something standing just outside of the moonlight. His lantern barely illuminated two large eyes staring back at him from just behind the fence. He stared, terrified and angry, into the piercing eyes before him. 

My grandfather hollered at the creature in an attempt to scare it off. The creature then let out a bellowing roar, lifted into the air, and began flying quickly toward my grandfather. As the creature drew closer it entered into the moonlight, which now illuminated its hideous form. It was a massive winged humanoid straight from the pits of hell. Its devilish wings stretched across the yard from fence to fence. Fearing for his life, my grandfather raised his rifle toward the creature and fired a round. The projectile impacted the creature, and it collapsed into the yard. The most terrifying, otherworldly scream erupted from the demon, causing the ground to tremble violently and all remaining leaves to be ripped from their branches. This prompted my grandfather to drop his rifle and run into the house.

All night, he and his family lie awake in their cabin, each clutching the other in terror. Into the early morning, they could still hear the creature outside, screams echoing through the mountain. After sunrise, my grandfather approached his dead livestock to get a better look. He confirmed that there was indeed no visible blood or other injuries. He picked up one of the chickens, shook it to ensure that it was dead, then in an effort to figure out what was going on, plunged a knife into the animal and began gutting it. Upon doing this, he realized that the animal had no blood inside it’s body. Confused and increasingly irate, he aggressively cut into the other five chickens, two pigs, and one cow that had been killed, to realize they had all met the same mysterious fate.

That year, they sold their land and moved away from the mountains. They had a difficult time rebuilding themselves financially, but were able to make ends meet. He never forgot about that night, and never forgave that creature for making life so hard for his family.

He told me this story when I turned 18. I am now 25, and my grandfather‘s body was found last year, November 1st, 1898. It was lying at the mouth of a cave, drained of blood. He had gone searching for the creature exactly four decades after his encounter, in one last spirited attempt to settle the score. His pride got the better of him. He knew he could wound the creature, and he wanted to end its life before he withered in his old age. His intentions had failed, but I would not fail his legacy.

I felt a beckoning in my soul to find the creature, to honor my grandfather’s memory, to fulfill his legacy by finally putting an end to this creature’s existence. I CANNOT allow this creature to accompany humanity into the 20th century.

I needed to do some research on the creature to know what I was going to be up against. Being that I am a county sheriff’s deputy, I had access to all police reports submitted to our office. I started digging through our office library, and came across a thick folder entitled, “Unsolved Halloween Occurrences”.

I eagerly placed the folder on a table, flipped it open, and began to examine its contents. They seemed to be in chronological order, starting with what looked to be ancient drawings on animal skin. Beside this was a document written in 1836 by a professor at the University of Virginia. This document claimed to translate the drawings from early Native American symbolism to modern English. The translation went as follows.

“When the air becomes cold

And the trees shed their skin

The depths of the mother

Birth a great evil

To slaughter our people

Without spilling blood

To drain us of life

Without inflicting injury

To defy the natural order

Beware the mountain darkness 

Beware the devil of blood.”

Other documents included reports from early European settlers, reports of criminal damages by local townsfolk, and even a document written by United States President Thomas Jefferson. This last document was an executive order establishing a mandatory curfew of 1 hour before sundown the week before to the week after Halloween, for all residents living near the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia.

Since 1742, there have been 53 reported human deaths, hundreds of reported animal deaths (both livestock and wild), and 14 eyewitnesses who survived an encounter. Each of the eyewitness reports described a large, 8-10 feet long humanoid bat-like creature with leathery black skin stretched tightly over its skeletal frame, and a large mouth containing hundreds of needle-like teeth. This creature, nicknamed the “The Blood Devil”, only appears on Halloween night. Aside from my grandfather, the only people to have seen the creature and survive were in groups of two or more. According to the reports, it seems that the creature is not keen on being seen by people in groups, and in such a scenario attempts to flee without conflict. On the other hand, those who are killed by the creature are found drained of blood, in the same location as my grandfather; the mouth of Hell’s Cave on Mount Sowen.

Here’s what I had so far:

1.) The Blood Devil stays on the mountain, and only kills those who are alone in the mountains of Virginia on the night of Halloween, outside of a reliable shelter.

2.) The creature is not invincible; the bullet from my grandfather’s rifle had to have done some damage, as it brought the creature to the ground.

3.) The only way to take this thing out is by confronting it directly, which means I have to go alone.

So I started devising a plot. I would set up a series of bells and strings throughout the trees surrounding Hell’s cave, and utilize my department-issued electric torches, to ensure that I always know the creature’s location. The brilliant invention of the electric torch had been gifted to the police forces of Virginia, after a British inventor had engineered the device early this year. Before sundown on Halloween, I would set up one of the electric torches at the cave entrance, such that any creature escaping the cave will trip the power switch and prompt the light to come on. This will signal me that the creature is coming, and allow me to see the devil as it emerges from the depths. I would stage a keg of gunpowder near the cave’s entrance, that I may ignite with a bullet from my rifle.

I would carry with me my 0.44 caliber Remington Model 1890 service revolver, my 0.38 caliber Winchester Model 1894 hunting rifle, and a hunting knife my grandfather carved from a deer antler and had given to me the month before he died. I would also carry extra ammunition, matches, a few food rations, and a bottle of water. I would set up camp with a perfect view of the cave entrance down-mountain. My campfire would be blind from the mouth of the cave, though I would have a perfect shot at the creature with my rifle. My grandfather went into these woods blind, without a plan, only his rifle and the rage of one hundred Vikings. The creature will emerge this Halloween, blind of my plan.

I now sit here, in the dark of the forest, armed and ready to kill this demon. My destiny lies in the elimination of this creature. I grow increasingly anxious as my time approaches. I think my reason for writing this is to say, I bid farewell to the world with the sincere hope that someone finds this journal, so that my story may be told. If you find this, please share my story, and my warning about the creature that lurks in Shenandoah. If my plan fails me, I have failed humanity. May the Devil of Blood die tonight.


J. Quinn

End Journal Entry

You see, I don’t believe this to be the only creature of its kind. On the contrary, I believe this to be a single member of an intelligent species which occupies a reality running parallel to our own. You know, in a different universe. Anyway, there’s no time to get into that now, as I have much more work to do.

To close this out, it seems that J. Quinn has succeeded in his plan, though a few questions remain… Who is J. Quinn? Did he survive? If not, where is his body? Did he have any descendants? I will update soon. Until next time…

Who Are We?


Who are we? We are a group of men with common interests, comprising a sacred brotherhood. We serve two primary missions:

  • Optimize ourselves as men by mastering the virtues of manliness.
  • Maximize our contributions to society by embracing humanity’s higher virtues and participating in altruistic initiatives to pay it forward.

The name of our brotherhood is The Revenant Wolves. This name is deeply meaningful and methodically chosen. A revenant is a thing or person which has returned from the dead. Humans, like wolves, are pack animals. Our ancestors hunted and fought together like wolves. By establishing a brotherhood which aims to optimize its members through the mastering of the virtues of manliness, our brotherhood revives the way of our ancestors.

What is manliness? Manliness is the group of qualities that our male ancestors needed to possess in order to protect and contribute to the fellow men of his tribe, namely while hunting, fighting predators or rival tribes, or protecting the perimeter of their camp. The 4 primary qualities, known as the tactical virtues, include strength, courage, mastery, and honor. There are other virtues which are necessary to function effectively and cohesively, such as discipline and resolve, though the four tactical virtues are the cornerstones of an effective hunting/fighting unit, and the fundamental virtues that a small group of men cannot do without.

Physical strength is necessary to protect ourselves, our families, and our brothers. Courage allows us to stand up for what we believe in, and to be brave in the face of danger. Mastery refers to the mastering of skills or crafts, including self-defense, working with one’s hands, and the advancement of intellect. Honor is the glue that holds a group together. Horizontal honor is a man proving his worthiness to be a member of the group. Vertical honor is a man proving his worthiness to be a leader of the group. If a man is weak, timid, incompetent, or dishonorable, he risks his own life and the lives of the men around him. His brothers can only depend on him if he possesses the 4 tactical virtues.


We as a brotherhood seek to satisfy our human need for membership in a small group of men with strong social bonds, by aligning our way of being with the way of our ancestors; the way of the tribe. The way of the tribe has been largely abandoned due to the development of human civilization, which critically shifted longtime-established social structures. Prior to the formation of civilization, humans organized themselves into tribes; groups of around 100-150 people. Within those tribes, men would band together into smaller groups to hunt and fight.


Upon the birth of civilization, humans became organized into nuclear families, and man’s social relationships gradually excluded the naturally-sought band of brothers. Due to this, the fulfillment of the small-group nature of man, as well as the tribal nature of humans as a whole, has been dissolved from the everyday life of modern humans.


Society seeks to fulfill the human need for a tribe in different ways: sports fans, political parties, nations, and religions. Society breaks these groups down even further into smaller groups with more meaningful social bonds: sports teams, churches, military platoons.

Modern groups demonstrate that a group of 8-15 is the human psyche’s archetypal gang size. Team sports center around this general range. Basketball teams put 5 players on the court at a time. Baseball teams put 9 players on the field. Soccer teams as well as American football teams put 11 players on the field. Jesus had 12 disciples. Studies show that the greatest social bonds between soldiers in the United States military are between members of a Fire Team (4-5) and members of a Platoon (16-50). Within these groups, men still evaluate each other as men by their demonstration of the tactical virtues. Men are revered for their strength, courage, and mastery of skills, as well as resource abundance (wealth) which is an indicator that a man has excelled in one or more of the tactical virtues to acquire said resources.


At this general range of 8-12 men, social bonds are maximally strong. This range is socially-manageable and is an effective team size for tactical maneuvers. A man is capable of maintaining around 100-150 working relationships with meaningful social history, though the strongest bonds are with the closest 10-20 friends and family. For this reason, The Revenant Wolves seeks to maintain a maximum of 15 members.

Why pay it forward? Isn’t manliness synonymous with aggression? No. Alpha males tend to be the best leaders, which includes the capacity for aggression and the capacity for compassion. Human nature is a duality in the sense that we are less aggressive and more compassionate than our closest relative, the Chimpanzee, but we are more aggressive and less compassionate than another close relative, the Bonobo. By training in the 4 tactical virtues and participating in altruistic initiatives, we are ensuring a well-rounded development of our natural tendencies as men.


Manliness allows for the survival of humans by means of protecting, providing, and procreating. As demonstrated above, the four tactical virtues are necessary in order for men to effectively provide and protect, allowing for the opportunity to procreate. The higher virtues, such as altruism, make civilization possible. What would happen if men abandoned the tactical virtues? Men would be weak, and our species would diminish. What would happen if men abandoned the higher virtues? Men would be wicked, and civilization would crumble into small, vicious groups.

We have to be strong, capable men with a motivation toward higher morals in order to preserve and perpetuate our species and our developed civilization, and defend against strong men who neglect the higher virtues. By making it our objective to embrace the tactical virtues as well as civilization’s higher virtues, we strive to maximize our ability to contribute to the advancement of humanity and the preservation of human consciousness.

So what exactly does our brotherhood do? The Revenant Wolves manage internal training programs to help all brothers advance their strength, courage, and mastery of skills. Honor is gauged by the Chief and each of the brothers based on one’s performance as a Revenant Wolf, and his contributions to the group. Through participation in the training programs, group activities, and group altruism initiatives, we strive to fulfill our joint mission of optimizing ourselves as individuals and maximizing our contributions to society. See our code of honor below.


Code of Honor 

Strength belongs to the superior man. I swear to be strong, and to become stronger. 

Courage belongs to the warrior in his darkest hour. I swear to be courageous. 

Mastery belongs to the craftsman. I swear to sharpen my mind, and hone my skills. 

Honor is the weld that binds my brothers together. We are one brotherhood. Together we stand, and together we fall. 

If I am weak, I cannot protect my brothers. I will not be weak. 

If I am timid, I will fail to act. I will not be timid. 

If I am incompetent, I will be of no use to myself, my brothers, or anyone else. I will not be incompetent. 

I will fight to preserve the bonds that secure this brotherhood. 

I hereby swear to honor my oath, to protect my brothers with my life, and to uphold the virtues of manliness and the higher virtues of humanity. 

I am, and forever shall be, a Revenant Wolf.




My Ancestry

Based on the limited research I have performed on my ancestry, I have uncovered the following lineages from the family names that have been passed down and inherited by my grandparents. I will eventually set up an ancestry.com account and dig in deeper.

  1. Mother’s side: Wampler– Swiss, Small town on the Swiss Alps http://wf-page.net/FAMILY-SITE/surname.html
  2. Mother’s side: Stachowiak – Polish Jew, likely Ashkenazi. Interestingly, studies demonstrate Ashkenazi jews to have a disproportionately high IQ in comparison to the average human. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashkenazi_Jewish_intelligence
  3. Father’s side: Propst – Austrian/German, Provost, used to designate someone in charge. Landmark contributor to the development of the nation of Austria.
  4. Father’s side: Shull – The surname Shull was first found in Prussia and the Baltic region, where this family name became a prominent contributor to the development of the districts. Always prominent in social affairs, the name Schulman became an integral part of that turbulent region as it emerged to form alliances with other families within the Feudal System and the nation.

In essence, the names of the inherited lineages on my father’s side were in positions of authority and contributed a large amount to the development of the nation of Austria and districts of Prussia, and on my mother’s side, a people who lived in the Swiss Alps, as well as Polish Jews, who were heavily persecuted in the 20th century (though I believe Steve Stachowiak immigrated to the United States in the late 19th to early 20th century, prior to WWII).

Brushes with Death, and Notable Injuries

misty mort 3

The below list consists of short stories regarding experiences I’ve had which can be described as “brushes with death”, as well as some notable injuries. The list will be updated as any new incidents may occur (hopefully not). Perhaps these can serve to inform the reader to make better decisions for his/her safety. Enjoy!


Almost Shot in the Head as a Child:

I was nine years old when my drunken next door neighbor shot into our house. He had been blasting music from his truck in the middle of the night when another neighbor called the police to report him. The police came to talk to him and asked him to turn off his music. He got angry and refused to comply. The officers went down the street to determine how to safely arrest him. During this time, our next door neighbor suspected my family had called, got angry, went into his house and grabbed a handgun, walked outside shouting obscenities, and shot once into the side of our house. I woke up to the sound of a bullet bouncing around the room, and debris falling from the wall. I later realized that the bullet entered the wall about 5 feet from my head, meaning a twitch of the neighbor’s wrist could have killed me. He was immediately arrested. No injuries occurred this night. I learned that the perpetrator died of cancer in 2013.


Gasoline Vapors:

I was beginning to burn two piles of trash in our backyard, about 5-10 feet apart. I lit the first and let it burn for a while, before mostly extinguishing it. There were still small flames emerging from the first pile when I began dousing the second, larger pile with gasoline. I walked around the pile, dousing it for about 60 seconds when I decided it had enough gasoline, and took the 5 gallon can to the side of the yard to prevent an explosion. As I was walking back toward the pile of trash to ignite it with a lighter, I was about 10 feet away when the small flames from the first pile ignited the vapors of the second pile, causing a moderately large explosion. I was not burned. The explosion took me by surprise, as I did not expect the small flames to ignite the vapors. Additionally, I did not expect the pile as a whole to ignite as quickly as it did, as I had distributed concentrations of gasoline into different areas (did not matter since the vapor ignited). If I had been attempting to ignite the pile manually when this happened, I could have been seriously injured. If I had decided to continue dousing the pile for another 10 seconds, the 5 gallon gas can in my hands may have exploded, resulting in critical injury or death. If 50% of the body is covered in 3rd degree burns, the person is unlikely to survive. I have learned from this experience.


Forklift Incident:

At an undisclosed time in my work history (keeping private for legal reasons, I wish not to press charges, too much of a pain), I was signaling a boom-lift to deliver a pallet to the roof of a building. After the load was delivered and myself and a crew were unloading it, the driver of the boom-lift began to lift and retract the forks without my signal. I was overtop of the forks during this, and quickly jumped out of the way. If I had not moved, the forks would have likely struck me hard in the face, or picked me up, possibly knocking me off of the roof to the concrete parking lot 50 or so feet below. I shared unkind words with the driver, and decided that would be the last day I worked that job.


Fun with my Cousin:

Ok so these experiences may not quite be “brushes with death”, but are worth mentioning. In one instance, at the ages of about 14-15 years old, we wandered past a barbed wire fence onto private property, and ended up getting lost in the Florida wilderness. We ended up dehydrated, and it took us until close to the end of the day to locate civilization, where we were able to use a cell phone to contact family and get picked up. Not very dramatic, but we were concerned about the possibility of not being found. We ended up so thirsty in the 100+ degree heat that, upon coming across old oranges we found in the woods, we tore them apart to squeeze the juices into our mouths.

Another fun experience with my cousin occurred while we were hiking Old Rag Mountain. As we were finishing the hike toward the bottom of the mountain, we accidentally came within 10 feet of a small black bear, presumably a baby. We were instantly concerned about the possibility of Mama bear appearing and becoming aggressive. Thankfully, we were able to ward off the bear from following us, and never saw the Mama.


Notable Injuries:

  • Tire iron to the forehead, face covered with blood, probably should’ve got stitches. Quick fix applied. Picture below, after getting cleaned up.

Aaron's Phone Pics 784

  • Stabbed hand while cutting apart frozen burgers with a steak knife. Quick fix applied, wound reopened the next day. Fixed again.
  • Spiral fracture on right hand bone feeding ring finger. Splint for 6 weeks or so.
  • Metal bicycle handlebar jabbed hard into chest directly over heart, caused heart to stop for brief moment, air knocked out of me (diaphragm paralyzed).
  • Kicked in the head by sister swinging on swingset, knocked unconscious, concussion received.
  • Passed out at a doctor’s office after receiving blood work, fell and hit head hard on tile floor. Experienced impact-induced seizure, concussion received.
  • Hit in head by medicine ball, head hit tile floor, temporarily paralyzed. I could see and hear, but I could not move or talk. My eyes would not even move. I gradually got back control of my nervous system. Concussion received.
  • Slipped in shower the morning of a Drum Corps championship performance, landed directly on top of head. Concussion received, neck nearly fractured. I went on to perform at my best in the championship performance.
  • Received the beginnings of a heat stroke while performing in a parade in Baltimore, MD. Carrying a 40lbs drum, refused water, or to take a break from drumming while marching. My thinking: “If we didn’t come out to give a performance and the crowd sees us taking a break, why the hell are we here?” Issue was resolved upon the completion of the parade route, where water and rest became ideal.


The Fundamentals of Electricity

What is Electricity?

Electricity is a vague term to many, and a familiar one to some. One thing we all have in common is this: we understand that electricity allows the modern world to work. Without electricity, we couldn’t have computers, power grids, sustainable air conditioning, modern vehicles. Agriculture would be far behind, as would space exploration, defense systems, communications, quality of life, the most basic of appliances, and more. Virtually all of our modern technology relies on electricity to function. So, what is it?

Electricity is a form of energy resulting from the movement of charged particles, namely electrons. Humans harnessed the power of electricity by engineering ingenious ways to move charges along conductors. Electrical power generation tends to require 3 primary components:

  1. Magnet
  2. Conductor
  3. Relative motion between the two

The valence-shell electrons (inhabiting the outermost electron shell) flow freely in atoms of electrically-conductive material, such as copper and iron. This is also the same property which allows such materials to conduct heat well, as the electrons are provided a greater area to “bounce” around in. The electrons can conduct and reject heat (a certain amount of randomized kinetic energy), but electric current cannot be produced without the use of a magnet.

When a magnetic field is moved across a wire, the valence electrons in the wire are “budged”. This is known as Faraday’s law of induction. The movement of these electrons in the same direction in unison induces a surrounding electromagnetic field, which can in-turn “budge” other conductors. This feat allows us to engineer ways to control the flow of electricity, and use it to move bodies. A field of study was developed to discover more useful ways to utilize electricity, called Electrical Engineering. There are a number of terms in Electrical Engineering which are necessary to understand before fully comprehending electrical systems. Below we will review these terms, their definitions, and how they apply to our job.


Voltage ( V )

Voltage is the difference in electrical potential energy between two points in a circuit. To understand this mathematically, consider that voltage is equal to the amount of energy in joules contained within each coulomb of electrons.

V = J/C

A voltage drop occurs in a circuit when a resistor is added, which demands a certain amount of energy for it to be powered (lightbulb, fan, etc.). The measurement of the voltage of a resistor (aka voltage drop) is the difference in electrical potential energy between point A – before the resistor, and point B – after the resistor. To measure the relative voltage of a power supply, or of any particular point in a circuit, one measurement is taken at that point and another is taken from ground.


Current ( I )

Current describes the flow of electrons along a conductor in a circuit. To understand this mathematically, consider that current is equal to the number of coulombs of electrons passing a single point per second of time.

I = C/sec

Current, measured in amps (A), is “pushed” by the voltage (energy) through a circuit to deliver power to resistors along that circuit.


Resistance ( R )

Resistance, measured in ohms, is the measurement of “push-back” a circuit component provides against an electrical current. This can be thought of as similar to a ball valve restricting the flow of water through a pipe. The more open the valve, the lesser the resistance. The more closed the valve, the greater the resistance.

V = IR

The formula above is known as Ohm’s Law, which describes the relationship between voltage, current, and resistance. If the resistance of a circuit increases, either the amperage will decrease or the voltage will have to increase to maintain amperage. A resistor is any component in a circuit which provides resistance, consuming energy, whether or not that energy is used for useful work.


Charge ( Q )

“Charge” is measured in Coulombs (C). One coulomb is equal to 6.24 x 1018 electrons. This can be thought of as a “basket of electrons” for the sake of mental imagery.



Energy is the measurement of the ability of work to be performed. Work is defined as force applied over a distance. So, the greater the energy, the more potential force is available to be applied over a distance. Energy is measured in Joules (J).



Power (P) is the measurement of the rate at which work is performed. This can be measured as “power equals (x) number of joules of energy transferring to perform useful work per second of time”. Power is measured in watts (W). The basic formula for power is W = J/sec. The formula below applies specifically to electrical circuits.

P = VI

Power equals voltage multiplied by current. This is, that the product of the voltage (energy) and the current in a circuit indicate to us the amount of work that is being performed. This is the amount of energy being transferred to perform useful work every second. In your home, this energy could be turning a fan, lighting a bulb, or heating an oven.



The measurement of “kilowatt hours” (kWH) represents how many kW of power will be consumed if the present rate of power consumption were to continue at its current value for 1 hour. This is the measurement which determines what homeowners will be charged for power consumption.


AC vs DC

AC” is an abbreviation for Alternating Current, and “DC” is an abbreviation for Direct Current. AC is an electrical current which switches “polarity”, or direction, at the rate of 60Hz in the USA (60x per second) and 50Hz in other countries (50x per second). This is represented graphically as a sine wave (see below). The “y” axis represents voltage, while the “x” axis represents time.

ac dc

AC tends to be used for power transmission, power systems, and higher-voltage equipment.

In DC, electrical current travels in a single direction. DC is used more for small electronic components, such as control systems.



Applying the definitions above, we know that a 12V battery has 12 Joules of electrical potential energy per coulomb of electrons difference between the anode and the cathode. We also know that a reading of 120V on our home electrical circuits indicates that we have 120 Joules of electrical potential energy per coulomb of electrons relative to ground.

Circuit Types

When designing circuits, electrical engineers utilize two different circuit variations; series and parallel. In a series circuit, all resistors are in a single line. In a parallel circuit, two or more resistors are on different lines from one another, fed from the same power source. As seen in the image below, R1 and R2 are in series, while R3 and R4 are in parallel.

series parallel

If one resistor were to fail in a series circuit and open the circuit, all other resistors in the circuit would be left with no power. For example, let’s say R2 is a lightbulb. After some time, R2 burns out, the circuit is left broken, and resistors R1, R3, and R4 have no power.

If one resistor in a parallel circuit were to fail, the other resistors will still have power. For example, if R3 were to fail, the electrical energy still has a complete circuit of flow if it were to travel through R1, R2, and R4.


Basic Wiring

In electrical engineering, there are 3 basic types of wires everybody should know:

  • Hot (source of energy)
  • Neutral (return, or common line)
  • Ground (often “Earth ground”)


Home Electricity

The electricity in a home is fed from an outdoor step-down transformer, bringing voltage from high voltage 3-phase AC down to 120V single phase AC. This power runs into your home on 3 lines; hot line 1, hot line 2, and neutral.

home elec 1

The current travels down line 1 (black wire), through the meter, and into the panel where it is distributed to individual “branch circuits” feeding resistors in the home, and returns from those resistors to the panel using neutral lines (white), and returns to the transformer using the main neutral line (white wires in the home and panel, bare copper on the main line). When polarity alternates, current travels down line 2 (red) to repeat the same process through branch circuits which are fed from that line. It is a best practice to balance the load between line 1 and line 2.

home elec 2

Home Electrical Panel

A home electrical panel will include the following items:

  • Incoming Line 1 (large black wire) connected to buss bar.
  • Incoming Line 2 (large red wire) connected to buss bar.
  • Outgoing neutral line (large white wire) connected to neutral bar.
  • Bare copper wires feeding into a ground bar (main ground wire denoted with “green” tape in image).
  • Circuit breakers protecting branch circuits fed from Line 1.
  • Circuit breakers protecting branch circuits fed from Line 2.
  • Main circuit breaker.



Branch Circuits and Receptacles

Above, we discussed that resistors in the home are located on “branch circuits”, as seen in the image below. Most appliances in the home are fed from basic 120V receptacles.


In a basic American 120V household electrical receptacle, you will see 3 holes which look like a surprised face. The image below features a dual 120V receptacle, capable of feeding power to 2 appliances. In the image, the short straight hole is the “hot” portion of the receptacle. This is the part of the receptacle which connects to the power source. The long straight hole is the “neutral” portion of the receptacle, which carries power back to the source to complete the circuit. The round hole is the “ground” portion of the receptacle.


The hot connection is fed downstream of either line 1 or line 2. The netural connection provides a path back to the panel, to connect to the neutral bar. The ground connection provides a path to the ground bar in the panel.


What is a “Ground”?

            A “ground” in an electrical circuit is a metal rod placed in the ground, providing a path which brings current to the Earth if the voltage traveling through the circuit becomes too high, such as in the case of a lightning strike or ground-fault. When voltage reaches a certain level, the current overcomes the resistance of the Earth at the point of the metal rod. This protects the circuit components from conducting too much energy. The ground bar in an electrical panel is fed from the ground wires of various equipment, and even the panel being grounded itself, and is connected to the metal ground rod going into the Earth.


Types of Circuit Issues

There are 3 primary types of circuit issues.

  • Ground Fault – In a ground fault, a hot source has unintentionally come into contact with a ground wire, or the frame of the piece of equipment grounded. When this occurs, current travels on the ground wire to the Earth, redirecting stray electricity.
  • Short Circuit – A short circuit occurs when a hot source comes into contact with a neutral path, bypassing resistors. This increases the current and voltage on the neutral line, which travels back to the transformer, down to the panel and may trip a breaker or blow a fuse. This often occurs when wire insulation becomes deteriorated or damaged.
  • Open Circuit – An open circuit is any circuit which isn’t closed and therefore cannot be used as a path for electric current. Turning off an appliance using a switch is creating an open circuit. Open circuits become an issue when a resistor on the circuit fails, not allowing electricity to travel through.

How a Transformer Works

Transformers are electrical devices that can be used to increase or decrease voltage in a circuit. They achieve this by using the principle of electromagnetic induction. Transformers are composed of an iron core, “primary” windings from the power source, and “secondary” windings to the load. As voltage increases in the primary windings of the transformer, an electromagnetic field is induced, which is carried by the core. This field induces a current and accompanying electromagnetic field in the secondary windings.


The above image is of a step-down transformer. In order to step down (decrease) the voltage, there must be more primary windings than secondary windings on the transformer. In order to step up (increase) the voltage, there must be more secondary windings than primary windings.


From the Power Station to the Customer

The following image represents the electricity flow from the power generating station to the customer.


A couple things to note:

  • The power generating station could consist of a solar farm, coal plant, nuclear plant, hydroelectric dam, or wind turbine farm.
  • Electricity is transported long distance at a high voltage to minimize energy losses.
  • “Transmission Customers” include large industrial customers.
  • The step-down transformer located at the local substation is necessary to bring the electrical energy down to a manageable level.
  • Amazon’s JIT sites are considered “Subtransmission Customers”, as we bring in 34.5kV.
  • Stores, shops, and other relatively low energy buildings are examples of “Primary Customers”.
  • Homes make up most “Secondary Customers”.


Now, you have a better idea of how the modern world operates. Cheers to learning!