Monday, April 9, 2018

Booty - Chapter 3



Booty - Chapter 3
by Joshua Coffman

Evergreen trees have a unique smell that invigorates. At least these ones did. Maybe it was their density and the oxygen they produced. His windows were rolled down. He could feel the air rushing in and his long sleeve crisp white shirt rustled against his torso trying to escape into the woods.

The compound was miles behind, but the trees continued to surround him like a sea of bluish green. The mid day was far gone, and the sun was dipping towards the tops of the trees on his left. Dusk wasn't far away.

His eyes glanced to the knob for the headlights. They were completely off and that's what he was checking to make sure of. These days, head lights on a car were the hoisted British Flag to the Barbary Pirates.

The sky was just beginning to turn a glorious pinkish color when the lonely gas station peeked out from the curtain of trees.

*whirr*

A single car was parked alongside the building, but Troy wanted to be sure his car was secure even so remotely. His windows fully closed, he pulled into the pump and cut the engine.

He reached to the passenger seat and grabbed a light brown baseball cap with a nondescript logo in the bottom portion of the front. He donned it and pulled it just low enough to obscure most of his eyebrows but not look conspicuous.

He went inside, grabbed a candy bar, and paid for a tank of gas. The cashier hardly took notice of him, her focus still far away in the text message conversation that she had just been jolted from.

"Thank you." He said it almost as an insult, but was careful to not make it sound that way. It wasn't like he was looking for attention anyways.

*bbbrring*

The door chimed as he opened it to leave, and he was already digging into his candy bar.

He had chosen this candy bar for a reason, not a very good one, but it was definitely on purpose. There was a brief moment as he walked back to his truck that he fell into a dark trance recalling the night he had met with Kelsy.

Kelsy was a friend.

Maybe a little more than that.

They had been spending more time together for a while. She had known him for years, almost as intimately as his wife. Somehow his preference for a particular candy bar came up in conversation. It was a simple conversation, but it was so vivid to him.

She chided him playfully. "Scaredy cats never try new things." His insistence on eating only one candy bar was broken. Her statement had smashed through his obstinance. It was lighthearted, but something about her comment stuck with him. He had opened himself up to her and she had taken advantage of his vulnerability. Now he was on a mission to prove her wrong, but just to himself.

He was going to purposefully try new candy bars until he ran out of new ones to try. So far it wasn't going too well, most of the ones he had tried weren't that great. But this one was alright.

It was almost as good as the one that he had insisted on all these years.

He snapped back to the present. His gas tank was full and he was sitting in the driver seat with the ignition running.

The sun had dipped below the trees, but there was still plenty of time before darkness raced across the sky. An hour passed as he continued driving south.

Highway mile signs seemed to blur together as he raced the sun. He turned on the radio to see if there was any stations broadcasting at this latitude. The scanner looked for several minutes before giving up.

He was trying to make it to a particular small town where he had a very close associate that was always ready to give him refuge. The dusk was almost impossible to drive through with his headlights off now.

But the long shadows from the trees surrounding the road allowed just enough light for him to see the large dark obstacle in the middle of the road with enough time to slow down.

It was a moose. A dead moose lay right in the middle of the lane that he was driving down. His better judgement told him to just drive around it. And he would have. He was only a few more miles away from the outskirts of the town he was destined for.

But this moose had somehow gotten hit just conveniently enough at a culvert that crossed beneath both sides of the highway. There was no way around, even if he wanted to just through the truck in four wheel drive, it was impossible at this particular part of the road to drive around this moose.

His hackles raised.

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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tor - Chapter 2



Tor - Chapter 2
by Joshua Coffman

Outside the house a dog barked viciously. For a brief moment, terror struck Troy as he realized the importance of his success in the task ahead. He brushed it off and made his way back out of the crawlspace. This time he noticed the spider webs lurking in the darkness.

Intricate detail in each line, precision, and a commitment to the plan. Each web was a story of craft.

That was enough introspection. His hands grasped the wooden rungs of the ladder to climb out of the shadowy depths of the house. He scrambled onto the cold gray linoleum. The walls of the hallway were a soft white and somehow reminded him of his childhood.

They were incredibly clean. In fact, everything about this whole compound struck Troy as clean. Even the stacks of ammunition in the crawlspace had been neatly organized and their markings distinct.

*shtick*

The light in the crawlspace flicked off and Beard came up the ladder behind Troy. At this point it was too late to ask for a reminder of Beard's name. Troy had committed to not initiating conversation with this confidential man.

*thud*

Beard closed the trap door and led the way down the hallway. He pulled out a key and unlocked the deadbolt to the first room on the right. The door swung inward, and Beard stepped in, Troy close behind. The carpeting was thick and the room wide.

Bookshelves completely lined the walls. Thousands of books lined the beautiful shelves giving the room a distinct library smell. Above the bookshelves, white foam could be seen lining the walls between. In the center of the room there was a solitary lounge chair made out of fabric. Several blankets lay over the arms.

On the wall facing the door there was a stand up desk with a black laptop that was closed resting on top.

Beard walked over to the desk and pulled out a notebook from a small drawer underneath the desk space. He wrote a couple notes then set the notebook down, reached back in the drawer and pulled out a laptop battery.

Troy stood aloof as Beard put the battery into the laptop that looked just like any other laptop. There was no visible branding, but it made Troy think of the brand Lenovo for some reason. While the laptop was flipped over, Beard adjusted the hard drive to physically connect it to the laptop.

He flipped it over and started the boot process. He unencrypted the hard drive and started the operating system. Moments later, he connected the laptop to an ethernet cable that had been coiled around an arm of the desk, stretching the cable from the laptop to a port on the wall.

The bearded man took his time and seemingly followed each step of a memorized procedure. Neither of them immediately realized that one mistake had been made.

An alert message flashed on the screen and Beard reached into his jacket pocket to pull out his wallet. He pulled out a card and inserted it into a slot on the side of the laptop.

*chirp*

The computer flashed an "access" message. He pulled up a text messaging application. Several messages were exchanged between Beard and the invisible hands on the opposite side of the computer. Consensus. The pass off was almost complete.

Each step was retraced. No signs of problems. The battery was removed, the cables disattached, and the hard drive unconnected. Beard signed the time into the notebook and they retraced their steps out of the quiet room.

The flick of the deadbolt sounded loud now that they had adjusted to the quietness. Troy acknowledged that his work was done and made his way to the door, briefcase in hand.

Beard followed him outside, locked the door behind and they both climbed the stairs into the sunshine outside. Troy took the briefcase, threw it into the back seat of his car.

The gravel crunched under foot as Beard walked down the driveway and climbed into one of the tan SUVs. The engine roared to life, as he rolled down all of the windows to let out the stagnant hot air that had built up inside during the day.

Troy was climbing into his own truck when the sound of the banjo playing echoed out of Beard's SUV. Troy looked over at Beard, and for the first time he sensed any emotion from the man. A grin stretched across Beard's face as he reached for the volume knob in the SUV and turned the music down.

"That would be someone I would have a barbecue with." Troy thought to himself. A momentary daydream flashed across his mind of how life would play out were they not in these circumstances.

The key turned and he reversed the truck onto the driveway and out onto the asphalt. He rolled his window down and drove back toward the evergreens surrounding the compound.

Outside of the compound, Troy felt a sense of vulnerability. He wasn't sure that he was any less safe outside of the fencing, but it sure felt like it. Subconsciously, he shifted his weight to just make sure that his weapon was still holstered.

*click*

He sighed.

---

Continue on to Chapter 3 - "Booty"









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Photo by Blake Connally on Unsplash

Friday, April 6, 2018

Rose Vinyl Siding - Chapter 1



Rose Vinyl Siding - Chapter 1
by Joshua Coffman

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He was riding through the neighborhood with his window down.

"What is up with their decision to put all these speed bumps?!" He thought to himself.

It was a nice enough neighborhood. The yards were large and well cared for and the houses were modest but tidy. In some of the yards children could be seen playing raucously. Not very many, but just enough to seem like the neighborhood was conspicuously filled with children.

It was only mildly annoying.

With the window down, he could hear the laughter and delight of the children. As he passed by some of the children waved with a smile. It was nice to be in this little compound.

The barriers and armed guards served as a reminder of the new reality. Fences with barbed wire could be seen in between the rows of tidy houses. Beyond the houses and iron curtain of fencing, an evergreen canopy rose up to obscure the horizon and give a sense of isolation to the protected within.

From one of the houses the sound of someone practicing on a musical instrument wafted to his car.

More questions than answers "Was that a clarinet or just someone playing the saxophone really badly?" Here he was though. The house blended into the rest, a simple but clean exterior. Shallow raised beds nestled against the side of the house. They complemented the single floor home nicely. Some flowers, but he could also see the beginnings of zucchini and even some tomatoes.

The light dusty rose vinyl siding showed little signs of wear and tear. This neighborhood wasn't new, but it definitely was built in the last 10 years. There was no substantial rain markings or dirt splash. No broken siding panels. All coloring seemed uniform.

White trim accented the dusty rose siding nicely. It didn't stand out from the similar hues along the road he had just approached from.

There were no children outside this home. Two larger SUVs painted in an inconspicuous tan parked neatly in the driveway. It wasn't paved; it was a rock driveway. The asphalt ran by each of the houses and their driveways extended in similar but unique orientations to the house.

He turned into the driveway and pulled up into the grass next to the house, briefly taking in the surroundings before jumping out of the car.

*click*

His face flushed.

"Not again." He slowly reached behind his back and adjusted his belt. This was the second time since buying his new holster that he had accidentally pulled the action. He needed to get a new holster.

"Or just stop wearing it in the truck like a dumb criminal." He chided himself.

It was something about his seat. Or his belt. Or his holster. He didn't really know. He just knew that it would be the adult thing to do to just take off his weapon when he was sitting in his truck.

He released the action and walked around to the back of the house. The cement stairs painted white led down to a basement entrance.

None of the windows in the house had indicated anybody inside but at the bottom of the stairs there was a distinct radio communications chatter.

He knocked on the blank door loudly. Nothing other than the radio chatter could be heard moving inside. A few moments later, the dead bolt shifted and he was welcomed inside by a wiry, bearded man.

His eyes adjusted to the new lighting. There was a lot of it. Bright florescents attached to the ceiling lit the rooms surrounding and the hallway he was standing in.

There was a shotgun and two Ruger Americans leaning against the wall. The bearded man had no weapon in his hand, but when he turned to lead down the hallway, a hip holster brandished a revolver.

The guest of the house, we'll call him "Troy," gently closed the door behind him and began to follow the bearded man.

"I've met him before... what is his name?" Troy thought to himself. As fate would have it, he would never get a chance to remember the bearded man's name. But we'll get back to that.

Across the house, about three doors down to the right, the hallway turned to the right and led into a trap door into the crawlspace. Each door they passed by, radio chatter droned into the hallway. There was probably people behind each door. And guns, there was probably guns inside each room. Knowing this compound, there were probably lots of guns.

The bearded man opened the trap door and shuffled down the little ladder the three rungs that it went down.

*shink*

A light flicked on. They hunched over and shuffled to the edge of the crawlspace. A stack of ammunition cases, plastic barrels, and three metal briefcases were stacked against the cement setting for the stairs that had led them down into the basement.

The job was to take one of the empty briefcases. The bearded man  was scheduled to take the other two on a "business trip."

But Troy didn't know that. All Troy knew was that things were probably going to go very bad, it was up to him to make sure that they went very good.

---









Continue to Chapter 2 - Tor

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Photo by ALP STUDIO on Unsplash

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Needed, Men to Apply Themselves



Our city needs a pastor. Our flock scattered after a hasty vote to amend the church constitution initiated by a rogue, hurting pastor in 2015. Hear our call; we don't ask for perfection, neither do we request a "yes man" who is swayed easily by public opinion. We desire several qualifications.

A Man

A Man with One Wife

A Man with at least Two Children

A Man of the King James Bible

A Soulwinning Man

And a Man Who Believes that Divorce is a Sin

Our list of qualifications does not include several things that we will examine. We are starting an independent Baptist church as a light on the hill in Anchorage, Alaska. Our services will commence in the summer of 2018 and we are calling for a man of God with the qualifications to step up to pastor us. 

May God's grace be abundant and His justice be executed rightly.

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Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

One Little Sparrow




My Kind Family and Heavenly Father
written by Joshua Coffman

Curious children crowded around the puddle in the middle of the playground. There was a little bird who had just broken it’s wing. It had hopped to the puddle to get a drink of water. The children encouraged it to fly away but it wasn’t able to because of the broken bones in it’s wing.

Jessica wanted to help but she didn’t know how to fix a bird wing. She thought it would be best to let her parents know. They were still in the church building. She ran inside to get some help.

Her mother was talking to some other adults and Jessica politely told her mother that there was a bird with a broken wing in the playground. Her mother immediately went to go help and some of the other adults came to help as well.

Outside, mother wrapped the bird in a small towel and brought the bird into their car. Father was already there ready to drive them to the wildlife center. They knew that the bird would be taken care of there.

Jessica’s older sister helped bring the bird into the center and they were assured that the bird would get better. As they drove away, Father reminded them of the Bible verse that says: “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

They drove home and while they ate lunch, Jessica thought more about the bird. She decided to read about all different kinds of birds, all shapes and sizes. They had picture books that told about the birds and where they lived and what color their eggs were. She thought it was interesting now.

Some birds even couldn’t fly at all, even with their wings not broken.

Several weeks later, Mother got a phone call from the wildlife refuge. The bird’s wing was fully healed and they] were going to release the bird back into the wild. Later that night, when Father came home, they drove to the wildlife refuge and they all watched as Jessica opened the bird cage and let the little bird fly away.

They all clapped and afterward they went to celebrate God’s healing power by eating ice cream. Jessica was glad that the bird was healed but was sad that it flew away never to be seen again. She wondered where it’s nest was. She knew that it was just an animal though.

She was happy that her family was the type of family that cared about other people. They were so kind that they even helped take care of little animals. And Jessica thought God would act the same way, even HE would take care of the little animals. And if she ever got into a tough situation, she knew that she could rely on God and her family to help her heal and make it through.

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Monday, December 18, 2017

Secure Your Money



Three Ways to Keep Your Money Safer Online
written by Joshua Coffman

I personally think that all of us should move away from traditional banking to decentralized “currencies” like Bitcoin, but since many people still use traditional banking, I wanted to talk about a couple different things to help keep my family and friends’ finances secure.

1. Use an entirely separate device for online banking.

At first this sounds outlandish, but it illustrates a point that if you have very little security education, you often outsource your security to other people. Expecting your Windows operating system, your browser, and your device itself to operate securely is just asking to be hacked.

And in the decade where we each have several devices already, making one exclusively used for online banking should be a relatively easy decision, even if it takes discipline.

So, WHY? you may ask. If you use your device for basically anything else, or if anyone else has any type of access to the device and can view or download pornography, your device will most definitely have some type of malware. Basically a virus. Get a passcode, educate anyone that has access to that passcode about your new commitment to security, and use discipline to only use that device for your banking.



2. Don’t reuse passwords, usernames, or even security questions

So, this is another difficult paradigm to get used to, but any reuse of information online opens you up to a myriad of attacks. People can fish for information from you to gain access to your accounts, this is a special type of information spying, called “phishing.”

Never reuse passwords. In fact, I recommend if you have a small online presence, writing down the passwords you use, even for Facebook, and securely locking them away. Don’t put them in a book behind the desk where snooping people can gain access to them. Even if you trust everyone in your home, your information is too valuable to leave vulnerable in that way.

If you have a larger online presence and use more than 5-10 passwords (which is most of us nowadays), I would recommend getting familiar with password managers. Encrypted password managers. Encrypted password managers that reside on your device, not the cloud. For sure, do NOT save your passwords in a file on your computer or on a service like Dropbox.

At the writing of this article, I recommend 1Password. But like I said, you shouldn’t take my word for it necessarily.

But let’s talk about the tricky one, security questions. Online applications have a habit of asking you personal questions that supposedly “only you” should be able to remember. But now that most of our lives are online cough  Facebook cough  even those intimate details are no longer secure enough to use.

Instead of telling the truth on those “security questions,” I recommend making answers up and making different answers for each service that you use. Keep track of your answers in your password manager.

3. Immediately stop using anything but Google Chrome.

Mozilla Firefox used to be a recommended web browser but even that is no longer considered “safe” by many in the security industry. And if you are using Internet Explorer or even Edge, you are leaving yourself wide open to attack.

Google Chrome is especially safe, especially if you make sure that you close it down every day. This allows it to update constantly. I’ll spare you the details on how it keeps you especially safe, but as long as you aren’t using it’s password save function, Google Chrome is my recommended browser to stay secure.

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If you implement these three things immediately, you will be safer from hackers. But there are plenty of people out there that want to take advantage of you and steal your money. I have a friend who is pretty savvy with technology and he wasn’t careful with a new program he downloaded, and he ended up losing over $10,000 from not paying close enough attention to his security.

Please, please, please… Take personal responsibility for your security. Don’t outsource security to your bank, your cousin or your spouse. Take responsibility for your valuables, including your personal information.

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Monday, November 27, 2017

Bitcoin and Alaska Natives



written by Joshua Coffman

Young people learn from an early age the never ending cycle of taxation and inflation. Maybe it’s just because we all live in the same world of the US dollar but it’s a burden that is shared by millions of people around the world.

Bitcoin, or digital cash, appeals to these young people. Why? Because Bitcoin is actually an asset (even according to the Robert Kiyosaki definition). Bitcoin is deflationary in nature and as such it is actually a good investment.

So how can Bitcoin and other forms of digital cash, aka cryptocurrencies, help Alaskans?

1. Young people are looking to make real money, so while they may not work for your normal US dollars, they may be motivated to work for digital cash like Bitcoin.

Alaska has a large population of people that are either on welfare or live off of other people’s money. They may be unmotivated to work for the US dollar because when they do, they will lose “benefits” that they get from the Department of Social Services. Food stamps and other “allowances” come with close restrictions. Or they may just be opposed to the idea of actually helping the US fund it's wars of aggression. *yes I'm a NAP guy

Bitcoin offers these people a way to work without fear of losing their welfare benefits. Many of them would gladly stop using their welfare if they could afford to. But they can’t afford to get out and start working for 20 hours a week at $9.50 an hour. Because then they would lose some benefits or be forced to work even harder at recording all their income to prove their eligibility.

However, if they earn Bitcoin and spend that Bitcoin without ever touching the US dollar, they can keep that cushion until they get decent job that isn’t minimum wage. This is a free market opportunity to evade the overwhelming governmental oversight.

Then when they start making enough money to change back into US currency or when they get a good job that pays in US currency, they will start paying into the tax system and be a full tax payer. Bitcoin is just the opportunity to breathe, the opportunity to work for a currency that isn’t inflationary.

So, Alaskan’s that are bold enough to adopt some Bitcoin and pay young people to do odd jobs, graphic design projects, manual labor, and other typical “under the table” jobs, can help bring a new generation of labor into the work force.

These people need practice. They need someone to give them an opportunity to spread their wings.



2. Bitcoin is a great donation platform.

The opportunity to help those that find themselves homeless, or in some other dire situation. Bitcoin and other types of cryptos, like Dash or Bitcoin Cash, can be easily transferred to those that find themselves in need.

Corporations and individuals that help those in need can also easily accept donations via the peer to peer economy. And many people that own Bitcoins are generous beyond belief because they have experienced so much increase in the space that they feel obligated to pay it forward.

Smart people will undoubtedly figure out how to help homeless people with Bitcoin. Churches should definitely clue in soon to the digital cash economy. Other charitable organizations are quickly opening up their own wallets to accept donations and there is a groundswell of individuals that are using their Bitcoin to help those in need.

3. Bitcoin will drastically help the sovereign people of Alaska.

I would be very surprised if the Native corporations didn’t already have people working on implementing their own currencies or adopting Bitcoin. With digital cash, people that live in villages or other remote locations will still have access to the immediate benefits of banking.

One person in a village with a smart phone can be a bank for the entire population there. Simply by installing one app, there is an immutable record of each “wallet” that they create. And they can do that for everyone in their family, or even, like I just said, the whole village. There is an unlimited number of wallets that they can create.

There will no longer be a need to wire money to anyone. Simply go to your village phone banker and send your Bitcoin through them.

There is massive potential for changing the way that individuals can sell their goods and services. Without the need for US dollars, there is a whole new economy that opens up to these people that have little access to traditional banking.

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Bitcoin will transform the world very quickly, it already has for a lot of people. And if it hasn’t affected you yet, be warned, it will. Even in far away Alaska, where we have little internet access in remote locations. The blockchain doesn’t need a lot of internet access and if handled properly can even be used with sporadic internet access.

I’m excited about the opportunity that Bitcoin holds. Now, I would like to clarify that if you make any profits from the increase of Bitcoin, you should definitely pay taxes on that. Be the most ethical person you know.

Other than that, be great! Long live Bitcoin.

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