Welcome to the CIC!

Welcome to my home on the web! My name is Erik Larson and I am the author of the action/adventure novel Lone Star Daybreak; a novel set in a speculative future in which Texas leaves the United States to form a separate country. Some short stories that take place in the world of my novel are at the right. I encourage you to read them and get a taste of what's ahead in my story! Aside from that, I have some of my favorite links here and I also comment on events in the world and on subjects that interest me. Thanks for stopping by and have fun!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Confederate battle flags cause a lockdown at a school

A school in Georgia narrowly avoided having to launch their ICBMs after a student showed up with a  Confederate battle flag strapped to their backpack.  Then the school was locked down due to rumors that three more students also had Confederate flags (multiple warheads).

I am certain that the student could have put either an ISIS flag or the Stars and Bars (the actual Confederate flag) on his backpack and gotten well into the air defense zone before being tagged as a hostile and intercepted by the school.  However, the student was confronted by other students and there was almost a throw down before the school officials got in between them.  Apparently someone thinks it's OK to react to something they don't like with violence.  I can't imagine who taught them that.

Seriously, people.  Is this healthy?

Friday, September 4, 2015

When three branches of government become, effectively, one

The Internet is afire with the Kentucky court clerk incident, in which a clerk is refusing to abide by a ruling that the Supreme Court made in the case of gay marriage. I think we need to sharpen our view of what is really being done here. The fact is, you are entitled to your religious beliefs, but you are not necessarily entitled to exercise them in your official capacity. That, depending on the severity, would cause me to side with the court versus having the official face the voters or appointers instead. What I see as the "big issue" here is the power of one branch of the government to force another to do or not do something, and that is what has happened post-Marbury vs. Madison with judicial review. Since that time, we have seen what I will simply call "judicial activism" more and more from judges, where they construe rights, powers, and so on not in the document and create them from judicial air. Abortion was one. "Separation of church and state" was another.

Regardless of whether you support gay marriage or not (and I have friends that do) it has to be reckoned that this was "made" by the Supreme Court, not placed in the Constitution by the Founders. This is but the latest instance of the Supreme Court finding rights in the document that aren't there, per se. Thomas Jefferson discussed this danger in 1803:

"You seem to consider the judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions; a very dangerous doctrine indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have, with others, the same passions for party, for power, and the privilege of their corps.... Their power [is] the more dangerous as they are in office for life, and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all the departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.."

It may be time for us to very sharply examine judicial review and say that just because a court acts in a certain way it by no means settles the question from the standpoint of the executive or the legislature. This may lead to legal chaos, but perhaps that is what we already have-- or what is needed.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Is America up to fighting the wars of the future?

A new article in The National Interest details the newest frontier in Russian and Chinese plans to prevent the US from having air superiority in a future war with them.  They want to mate advanced detection systems with drones to create an IADS without the vulnerability to suppression that those arrangements have had in recent years.  And so now we go back to the future, as the US appears challenged to enter yet another cycle of overcoming the technology of nations who have seen what we can do on a battlefield and want to stymie us to the point that the wars we fight will be neither quick nor clean, nor devoid of serious cost to us.  They know that the belief that it could be otherwise has been instrumental in convincing the American people to go to war at all. 

Yes, we have been here before.

People unfamiliar with history don't know just how much US and Israeli blood and treasure was spilled defeating the threat of a surface to air missile based integrated air defense system.  The US began the original air defense suppression effort-- Iron Hand-- in the Vietnam War when Soviet made SAMs would target high flying US strike aircraft and drive them downwards into the range of the anti-aircraft guns the North Vietnamese were wielding.  The technology and tactics for coping with the surface to air threat were created the hard way-- by taking experimental technologies into the face of Death and oftentimes not coming back.  Mistakes equaled dead pilots.  Over time, the jamming capabilities and the anti-radar Shrike missile came of age and US planes went over North Vietnam to strike targets and survive, at least most of the time.  However, the SAMs kept getting better.  In 1973, the Israeli Air Force actually stopped flying during the war because Soviet SA-6 SAMS were killing too many of their pilots.  Part of the problem there was that some of the electronic warfare technology they had was actually helping to clue in the SAMS to hit their planes. 

The end of the 1973 Arab-Israeli War yielded a bounty in captured Soviet equipment for both the US and Israeli forces to learn from.  A whole lot of that gear wound up in places like Nellis Air Force Base and in secret labs, where essential information on electronic frequencies and vulnerabilities of the hardware were found and exploited.  By 1982, the Israelis had gotten much better at coping with enemy radars as well as contemporary Soviet fighters.  They proved it when they went into Lebanon and shut down both the Syrian Air Force and the Syrian IADS.  A decade later, in 1991, the US would do this again with Saddam Hussein's French built integrated air defense system, known as KARI, with the dividends of know-how in electronic warfare gathered to that point.  It also helped that the French sold Saddam out and helped us cope with the system they built for him.

Now, flush with having exited the twenty-first century as winners in set piece warfare, many people in the United States seem to think history has ended.  We see the US military being used as a test-bed for social experimentation and being made to use Cold War legacy armaments and tactics against opponents that are increasingly from the future as we are.  The US military is being cut back.  Almost all of the US warplane fleet is being replaced by two aircraft-- the F-22 Raptor and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter/Lightning 2.  The F-22 is a very good plane that we only have about 120 units of, and the F-35 is showing itself to be a disappointing pig in the technical areas that it was supposed to be dominant in.  It is a shadow of the dogfighter than the Cold War F-15 and F-16 are, and not nearly as stealthy as the F-22.  In fact, there is debate whether it can effectively hide from detection at all. 

Among the American public, the fear of attack on our soil and of an opponent country dominating us militarily seem very distant.  We instead are fighting each other.  Police shootings of obviously dangerous criminals are met by the dead criminal being lionized, and any apparent mis-step by the government or the police get entire boulevards named after dead traffic violators.  If you asked most Americans to name the enemy they are most concerned about, they would name other Americans.

Americans appear to be psychologically and intellectually withdrawing from the world and from the reality of where their country is, as well as from many of their own fellow citizens.  They appear to have concluded that America is eternal and one need not worry about keeping it up or protecting it-- in fact, maybe one is wrong to do so given all of our imagined or actual wrongs.  Americans need to be disabused of this mental illness. 

Let's view the military history of the twentieth century honestly.  We helped win World War One, and went to pieces militarily after it due to isolationist tendencies.  We were only saved from the Nazi Blitzkrieg and the Rising Sun by two large oceans and a huge industrial capacity that our opponents lacked.  Most of the weapons Nazi Germany produced were technologically on par with our own and some were superior (Panzers).  Japan started off World War Two with aircraft and ships that were comparable to or slightly superior to our own, and went downhill due to the fact that, again, they did not have the ability to keep up with us in production.  The US fighters of 1945 were far better than the ones we went to war with in 1941.  Ironically, Japan's finest admiral, Isoroku Yamamoto, had warned his superiors about just this problem and had urged against going to war with America.  Ultimately, the atomic bomb crushed Japan's remaining willingness to fight.  Without the atomic bomb, historians still dispute how the war with Japan would have ended and how the American public would have reacted to the casualties necessary to drag a fanatical Japan kicking and screaming into defeat. 

Korea and Vietnam were tactical US victories that, in the case of Korea, turned into a nuisance stalemate due to the unwillingness of US politicians to press for victory, and in Vietnam for this same reason again and due to our redefining the social and political problems of that region as military problems while ignoring the impact of our own in places like Berkeley and Kent State. Saigon was re-named Ho Chi Minh City in 1975, following over ten years of US military involvement and us dropping more bombs on that country than we dropped in all of World War Two, and North Korea and South Korea traded artillery shells last week.

The Gulf War was an overwhelming US tactical victory that, again, culminated in a strategic defeat due to the failure of US planners and politicians to understand and cope with the social, political and religious challenges to stabilizing the region that had been conquered.  In other words, it is hard to pacify countries whose replacement leaders hate you almost as much as the ones you got rid of.  ISIS is now reaping the benefit of our removing Saddam Hussein from power.  We are now having Jihadist attacks on our own soil, which the US government desperately tries to re-cast as the actions of isolated fanatics with no mention of which religion they usually are members of. 

America is by no means as militarily capable as we imagine her to be at this point.  This is not due to incompetence militarily anywhere near as much as it is political and social incompetence.  Without this much more nuanced view of how America has handled conflict in recent history, it is unclear if we have the ability to fight and win wars of the future when we cannot come to terms with the lessons of the past.  One of them is that America needs to have and maintain a strong, constant, and inconvenient investment in the success of the US military, by providing the weapons and people for them to win wars, and also providing for them the leadership-- both political and social-- for them to succeed in the fight with public support and to be given missions that are truly military and not socio-religious with military framework or trappings.   America is failing by this yardstick.

The other lesson is that US cohesion-- or lack thereof-- were factors in every war we fought in the past century and in this one.  The US almost didn't go to war in Europe in the First World War and in the Second World War due to the isolationist movement.  Politicians feared social schism if they pushed the button, which was pushed for them by Imperial Japan.  We won the war in Europe and against Japan through logistics, and were fortunately not forced to close with Japan and finish her as we might have had to.

Korea was a stalemate, as was Vietnam, because the American public was unwilling to pay the price to confront the Communist lions directly and force them backwards.  The US entered the Gulf War to the protest of many, assuring them that casualties would be as light as possible and we would overwhelm the enemy not by blood but by microcircuitry.  This worked in the short term.  And now, we have pulled out of Afghanistan and Iraq only to refocus our hostility on other Americans.  It is hard to imagine the current Democratic Party and the Republican Party, nor the "salad bowl" of people in America now, truly uniting in the face of an existential threat.  Too many people seem ready to pay lip service-- especially along with commercial opportunity-- to "supporting the troops" while not actually being on board with the war they are trying to win.  Any enemy we would fight could count on a substantial fifth column of traitors in the United States for support, and can now, at least as far as radical Islam is concerned.

At a time when the US should be keenly aware of its weaknesses, we seem less inclined to close them up as we do to ignore and let them expand.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Fourth generation warfare: ISIS rides the whirlwind

Most of you have probably been following ISIS/ISIL and their activities. 

Let us stop and consider what an army, or other military force, must effectively do in order to wage war.

1.  They need a cause, and leadership.  A traditional barrier to this has been communication, which has been nicely taken care of by the Internet through Twitter, Facebook, etc.. 

2.  They need to organize.  See above.  The Internet has made this as easy as the first two above

3.  They need a supply chain.  No army does particularly well without weapons and supplies.  For  ISIS, they are able to do most of their damage with small arms, to wit the venerable AK-47 and its knockoff series rifles.  It helps that their main targets are generally thin skinned civilians, but that is situational.  But aside from that, the Mideast is flooded with surplus Russian/Soviet arms and the same forces that gave us a global economy can piggy back weapons shipments to where-ever.  Soon they will be able to 3D-print weapons and ammunition, but that is a ways off.  Once you take care of the bang-bang items, the rest of the stuff an army needs is mundane.  Medical supplies, kitchens for the field, communications gear, trucks, gas, clothing... most of that can be had from Wal-Mart, with the biggest obstacle being tactical coloration. 

4.  They need to close the OODA loop.  Observe the objective, orient to move towards/attack it, decide when to push the fire button, and then act.  Again, the Internet and the situational awareness that gives the force its self-awareness also handles this.

So we see that ISIS is an effective military force, and will remain so.  Pretending that they are a bunch of hoodlums only ignores reality.  But now, let us examine the vulnerabilities of this force, versus a traditional force such as the US Army.

History has given us several ways to break a military force. 

1.  Kill them all.  Well, duh.  Yes, we can do that to them.  But remember than an additional requirement is to find the enemy, fix the enemy, and THEN destroy them.  The first two are particularly challenging when they don't obligingly line up in formations and positions.  The Internet and the fluid behavior it enables makes elaborate and visible formations unneeded.  That makes it very hard to concentrate military power against them, unless they happen to be the only ones in the area, barking like moonbats, and mishandling various machine guns and crew served weapons as Super-Soakers or something.  No brainer there.  Feed them a GBU.

2.  Decapitate their leadership.  See above challenge to find and fix.  We spent billions of dollars and employed CAG and DEVGRU for a long time chiefly hunting down Al Qaeda's top people.  We are fortunate the organization wasn't larger.

3.  Break up their lines and formations in order to disrupt their attacks.  This works if they have lines and formations we can find. And, ISIS and everyone else that realizes how powerful the US Army's fires are will not use them.  It makes you a target.  Tanks, artillery, APCs, mines, and formations of infantry were designed to do this through fires, and when the enemy vanishes from the map, the usefulness of these weapons diminishes.

4.  Destroy their logistics.  Very hard to do when the enemy uses the same logistics as everyone else is using.  Bombers, navies, and so on spend most of their time blockading people from going places and destroying factories and bases and recruiting centers and supply depots that they use, and the behavior of ISIS/ISIL and the other similar terrorist groups nullify the above heavy weapons here.

5.  Destroy them ideologically.  This CAN work.  But it requires you have better ideas, and removes the effort from the realm of Industrial Age weaponry and tactics to the area of maneuver and psychological operations.  This is something the US can do, but has yet to really learn how to do, and we will not be able to take our bombers, tanks, aircraft carriers, and other Industrial Age weapons with us here.

So we see that the fourth generation threats we are facing are nullifying the advantages that we used to possess in the Industrial Age.  A handful of ill trained terrorists with boxcutters did something on 9/11 that the Japanese Imperial Navy and the Luftwaffe never managed to do-- attack the US mainland and inflict billions of dollars of damage and thousands of casualties.

But here is one more point to think of, dear reader.  Traditionally, armies went after the other armies and fighter planes went after the enemy's planes.  The new calculus erases that.  Why bother attacking into the teeth of the enemy's forces and killing their soldiers when the assets they are trying to protect (your ass, sitting on the couch and going to work) are even more vulnerable?  Why not attack you directly?  If you can do this, if you can destroy people in their cities and workplaces, and towns and shopping malls... who cares how many nukes or carriers your military has?  Not the people digging 7.62mm rounds out of themselves, that's for sure.

And THIS is the reality we need to face.  We are very fortunate that to this point, the terrorists of the world have been stymied in their efforts to conduct mass attacks on the US mainland.  Periodically, you will have a successful attack here, such as the Boston Bombing or some other lesser attack.  So far, the US military has done an admirable job of inserting itself between the enemy and you and taking the heat off of us.  But as we pull back and abandon the Middle East, and as the enemy has less to fear from our forces, that will change.  And then, what you see happening "over there" will be happening "over here". 

The US needs to step up and build a true fourth-generation warfare ability, and a huge part of this is to define the difference between us and the terrorists and engage them wherever they are, whether here or overseas, and with what tools we need to use, whether those are ideas or bombs.  That is the subject of another rant, but let us say that for starters, an inability to call Moslem terrorism for what it is constitutes a huge obstacle to defining the threat, much less doing anything about it.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

As Ferguson goes, so goes America?

Well, hello again, everyone.  Just me, checking in on Thanksgiving Day, 2014.  It's been a long time here since I wrote a post, and I'm sorry because I am really trying to get better about my sometimes very long hiatuses between them.

It's just that I oftentimes just don't find things to write about that I think are interesting enough to post here on, or that I think would be good fits for my page here.  The friends and family that are my Facebook friends know full well I have plenty to say on a lot of things, particularly on world events! 

But here, I want to go beyond the left/right thing a bit, and have a think-session with the reader who might agree with me a lot AND the reader that might not.  No matter what sort of country you imagine you want here, the choices we make have consequences and must be thought out before the fact, because we will all reap the whirlwind.  We can agree to disagree to an extent, but the minute either of us finds the order too unbearable, massive and likely unpleasant things will happen, and we ought to each ask ourselves where it might pay to live and let live.

I guess I'm typecast as a "right wing" author now, which I don't mind that much, but above all else I try to be real, for the reason I gave above Even, to a degree, when I am writing a science-fiction book/satire like Lone Star Daybreak is.  Yes, read that again.  I don't think that the events in there are going to happen tomorrow, and the left wing characters in there too had some satire thrown in on them.  I left it up to the readers to suss it out.  A U.S. President gets shot in the Oval Office by an intern he'd been having an affair with?  Come on.  That was an obvious jab at Bill Clinton's habits.  I could have had her strangle him with a dress, I suppose.

But even in that book, I wanted to make people think seriously about their country and its future.  I didn't want anyone to have illusions about the mayhem we are in for if we don't pull together as a nation and stop dividing ourselves.  The people who say the country could never split apart are also ignoring history.  Ours did split once, and nations all around the world are splitting up.  Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yugoslavia.  The world has been an unstable rollercoaster since the Cold War ended.  The Left thinks everyone on the Right is an idiot, and many of the policy wonks who are effectively running this country think ordinary Americans are too stupid to manage their own affairs.  The nation states of the world are, as I have said before, experiencing trauma greater than themselves.  The world is changing, and they will either evolve with it or be changed involuntarily.  Spin the globe around and stab your finger down.  Everywhere you go, unless you hit water, you will find a country struggling to find its way in the Information Age world.

In America's case:  Sad to say, but many of the precursor attitudes and atmospheres that I wrote about in Lone Star Daybreak are being seen in real life now, and this makes me wonder what the future really does hold for the country.  I can say one thing for sure-- many "Americans" have already mentally and morally seceded from the rest of the people.

For any of you who have read Lone Star Daybreak, you will remember one of the main characters began on his bloody path following a massive civil disturbance caused by an officer-involved shooting in a Northern city.  The people in the city thought that they were entitled to loot and shoot based upon their grievances against the government-- which tried to appease them rather than deal with their criminality.  And then we come to Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

I'm not going to argue the points of the case because, like everyone outside of the grand jury, I didn't hear and see all of the evidence.  I do know that those who were on the grand jury decided to no-bill Officer Wilson.  And in response to this, we get many people-- many "leaders" around the country, saying that the system that we have in this country is inherently corrupt, racist, and what-have-you.  I have heard currently serving politicians who were elected based on the very system they decry saying things about our country that are absolutely unbelievable.  More chillingly, they would "fix" the system so the next time, we could be sure an officer like Wilson gets put on trial.

And then what?  Would we put people in a room and do that ridiculous test when you push the button up or down depending on how good you feel about what you see on the television?   Or maybe we could "improve" things on the front end, so the situation never occurs.  Would we simply refuse to enforce the law?  Say that if someone is aggrieved enough against our country, that they may simply rape and pillage with impunity on whomever they think has wronged them?  If you are going to make sure someone gets tried, go one better-- make sure they get convicted.  And as for punishment?  Better not to imagine.

I know many of the Ferguson protestors are in the country with us, and they speak our language (mostly), and eat and drink and shop for many of the same things the rest of us do.  But beyond that, they might as well be on another planet.  A planet that I don't care to visit.  What I want to know is what sort of system we would replace the existing one with?

Notice that due to social media, the Ferguson situation is not just nationalized, but global, and the repercussions stand to be that much more severe.  The division that we are sewing in this land is really starting to have some serious consequences, and we should realize it.  Calls for the American order to be overturned are not coming from dingy rooms on college campuses or from coffee bars in left wing US cities.  We are hearing them from the lips of elected officials and we see those officials actively supporting the changing of the US from the country it was founded as to something as yet undetermined.  Radicals who wish to destroy the US for their own reasons are listening.  ISIS has announced that it will support the Ferguson protest movement if they will support ISIS.  How many will say yes?

Change may be inevitable, but it is also dangerous and there is no guarantee we will come out of the other side better off.  We need to be intelligent masters of our fate to the degree possible.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The real international law

I alluded several days ago to the state of mind President Obama seems to have regarding foreign policy.  He seems to imagine that if his intentions are good (in his own mind) then it follows that his aims and goals will work themselves out—physics and history notwithstanding.  The problem is that the world doesn’t work that way and never has.

We have seen this template before in the manner President Obama approaches other aims.  Controlling violence, for instance:  He imagines that if people can’t legally buy guns, then they just won’t be able to get them .  Why?  Because he wants it to be that way.  Or, if he passes some sweeping health care law that no one understood well when they voted on it, and that has been highly problematic—well , that’s okay too.  After all, he meant well.
Serious students of history and, more directly, the people and politicians who are suffering for his myopia, are really getting frantic.  His slippage is having serious consequences across the world.  The Ukraine is helpless before Russia and our attempts to sanction Russia are liable to result in them propping up Iran and Syria against us and Israel.  Our allies, such as Japan, are asking seriously whether the United States can be trusted to protect them against China.  Power vacuums get filled.
However, perhaps this analysis is incomplete.  At the nexus of President Obama's foreign policy problem in particular is the reality that he has not appreciated how seriously the current "international order", dare we say, "the new world order", depends on the anchor of U.S. military power.
"International law" was largely invented after the Second World War to criminalize the actions of aggressive countries.  There was no framework to punish the leaders of Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan for their atrocities, other than to decree that the winners would kill off the losers.  So, "international law" worked its way into the lexicon.  One problem was, and is, that it is exclusively defined and guarded by whoever has the strongest army.  We were satisfied with that, because that "whoever" was the United States, at least on our side of the world.  We never mentioned it versus the Soviet Union because we knew, as they did, that it meant nothing in a contest between two superpowers.  But once the Soviet Union collapsed, many saw the opportunity to use it as a vehicle to end international conflicts-- even, possibly, to make war illegal. 
I would say that many leaders and people believed too much of their own propaganda, though.  The force behind this law was the power of the United States; so much so that we ignored the other future concern:  international law was a law in which everyone was an outsider.  If we ever ceased to be the dominant world power, where would that leave us?
So the real international law is that the U.S. had better be stronger than other countries, and when we are not, then various aggressive nations will happily press forward with their own military adventures.  International law is a collapsed bag.  We need to re-boot our foreign policy, minus this made up concept.


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Dealing with Mother Nature out on the road

I see that Atlanta and many parts of the South were socked hard by the latest winter storm.  The havoc in Atlanta was so bad that people were stranded out on the road overnight or longer.  In the event that you are surprised by a weather event at work or out on the road, are you ready?

I was caught out in Tropical Storm Allison in Houston in 2001 when I was at work.  I almost didn't make it home.  Been there, done that.  I can say that most people who get in trouble on the road during a weather event take to the road when they should have stayed where they were.  The stock rarely goes up when you get out on the roadway in the mess with other people trying to make lemonade out of lemons.  But hindsight is twenty-twenty.

It pays to have an emergency kit in your car for these events.  It doesn't take a lot of money or time to put together a kit that can literally be a lifesaver. You can go by Wal-Mart or most other sporting goods stores and get most of what you need in an easy afternoon.  There is no reason to go to the local Delta Force shopping store and buy $150 or higher cost Navy SEAL rated backpacks or gear for this.  Consider the following kit for winter weather:

1.  The pack, sized according to the gear you get.  You can keep it in the trunk, and access it by pulling down the back seat, possibly.
2.  Water bottle, full.  That convenience store three miles away that you pass by every day might as well be thirty miles in a blizzard when you're stuck.
3.  Entrenching tool.  Get a collapsible Army shovel to dig your car out of a mess. (Makes a good battle axe in a pinch too... not that I would ever advocate you hurt anyone like that.)
4.  Space blanket.  Probably the greatest cheap asset you can buy for warmth.
5.  A sleeping bag.
6.  A first aid kit. 
7.  A RELIABLE flashlight with GOOD extra batteries.  Sure Fire and Maxpedition both make plastic cases to keep your extra batteries in good order.
8.  Extra hot gear.. ie. gloves, hats, scarfs, or whatever that you might not wear daily, but sure as heck would want if you were stranded in an ice storm.
9.  A firestarting kit.
10.  An axe to cut emergency firewood.
11.  An emergency LED strobe.
12.  A wind up radio.

You might add or subtract from this list.  But the idea is simple.  In an extreme weather event when you are stuck in ice on a highway, you may be stranded overnight or longer.  Do NOT rely on your car's heater to ward off hypothermia.  What if you run out of fuel or the car is damaged?  If your windows get broken or your car body is ruptured in a wreck, your vehicle provides scant cover if any now.  Assuming your car is undamaged, keep it that way.  Find a place to pull off.  I had a great night's sleep in my Chevy Cavalier one night by pulling down the back seat and laying out a sleeping bag into the trunk.  Who needs a tent?

If you have nothing with you but whatever you wore to the office, and now you are stuck out in the middle of nowhere or on a highway overpass in an ice storm, you are now in very serious trouble, so try not to be there.  But if you do wind up there, be prepared.