Sunday, January 31, 2010

Not as I do

One of those imaginary light bulbs appeared over my head as I stood at the pumps last week, filling my TrailBlazer with 87 octane. It was brutally cold, a stiff wind driving single-digit temps well below zero.

I shivered uncontrollably. For all of my high-toned blogging about layering, there I stood -- woefully under-dressed for the conditions.

Since making a professional move indoors I've been ignoring much of my own advice, wearing no base layer and just a thin insulating layer. I've accommodated the steady 54°F in my basement office by sitting next to an electric space heater. When the time has come to run errands, I've thrown on a jacket and headed outdoors.

Obviously, an important chunk of my preparedness mindset lapsed. Another lesson learned.

Wintertime is, in my experience, the best season for learning. I now know to keep an expanded survival kit -- supplemented with insulated overalls, snow boots, a small shovel and extra food and water, among other things -- in my truck. I tuck my lap belt under my bulky parka and stow an extra pair of Thinsulate-lined ragg-wool gloves (the kind with rubber "grip-dots") in the console. I always carry a firesteel, ideally in a compact fire kit. Little stuff.

A half-century of trials and errors also has taught me things perhaps less apparent -- for example, that using fabric softener when washing wool and fleece will cripple their ability to insulate.

Most lessons, like the one I learned at the gas pump, are as valuable as they are cheap. Once survived, the key is to apply the knowledge -- or, in my case, the embarrassing reminders.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Observation post

At one time I thought that the ultimate recipe for a political stalemate was a climate in which neither dominant party held a clear majority. Not anymore.

From my vantage point, it looks like we'll have gridlock for the foreseeable future -- not because neither party has a decisive advantage (the Democrats did until recently) but because ideologies have poisoned governing like never before in our nation's history.

Politics is an inescapable yet necessary evil at all levels of government and, as the saying goes, it's "the art of the possible." Thing is, nothing is possible without collaboration.

Ted Kennedy knew that. Alan Simpson knew it and so do Orin Hatch, Bill Bennett and John McCain. Barack Obama knows it, too, but he's at the effect of sabotage beyond his control.

Harry Reid and John Boehner sure don't believe in collaboration. Neither does Nancy Pelosi or Mitch McConnell, Glen Beck or Rush Limbaugh, Dianne Emiel Goldman Berman Feinstein Blum or...on goes the list. The only form of bipartisanship is obstructionism.

I hate to break bad news, fellow independent citizen-patriots, but nothing of productive consequence will be accomplished in the halls of our government -- perhaps not even during our lifetime. We're stuck in neutral, and since the world keeps moving forward, standing still is equivalent to going full-speed backward.

Intelligent, civil discourse and critical thought have all but vanished from public service. Collaboration for the sake of The People has been replaced by contrarianism intended to satisfy simple-minded, base-dwelling ideologues.

Our elected officials practice nothing more thoughtful than schoolyard disagreement. They pivot around their opponents' views instead of attending to The People's interests.

Altering the status quo would take nothing short of a revolution. It'd mean showing up at the polls and yanking the franchise from navel-gazing incumbents who espouse intractable ideologies or toe a party line. More important, it'd mean replacing each and every one with a citizen who talks and walks,

"I'm neither a Republican nor a Democrat nor an Independent. I pitch no permanent camp on the conservative-liberal continuum. I'm independent -- the lower case signifying a description, not an affiliation. I'm of, by and for The People, and the Constitution is not negotiable."
That's what it'll take -- and it is possible. I have little hope, however, that we'll do what's necessary to save our nation.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reunion recap, an epilogue

Ah, the much-touted "basic eight" -- I actually got a full night's sleep last night, closing my eyes just after 9pm. When the alarm buzzed at 5am this morning I awoke refreshed. I needed that.

Trumping the digital images of Saturday night are two mental images, memories that I cherish.

Behind the curtains in the left wing, a father and son occupied a pair of folding chairs set against the stage wall. It was clear that the boy suffers from some sort of disabling condition, his small body frail and his limbs twisted.

His spindly hands gripped a kid-sized Epiphone electric guitar, and throughout the concert -- I mean without stopping -- he "played" along with the show. He seemed to know every song, every lick and every break, jamming and dancing with unbounded joy, a broad grin on his young face.

I stopped shooting the on-stage performances several times to photograph him, which only made his grin bigger and his strumming more energetic. I still don't know who he is.

Now, as then, the thought of this boy brings a smile and a tear.

Toward the end of the Reunion, headliner McGuffey Lane and friends performed arguably the band's biggest hit, "Long Time Lovin' You." I heard the familiar opening strains while crouching between the drum and keyboard risers, framing a shot of lead singer John Schwab approaching his microphone.

Instead of pressing the shutter button, I turned the camera off, lowered it to my chest and quickly made my way off the stage. I hustled down the ramp, through the crowd and to the table where my wife and spawns were sitting.

I extended my hand to Mrs. KintlaLake. She smiled, stood and wrapped her arms around me. We slow-danced to "Long Time Lovin' You," just as we do every time we hear it.

The rest of the world could wait -- it's our song.

Placing a kiss on her cheek as the music faded and the audience cheered, I turned my camera on again and went back to work.

Yes, I love my photography and all of the heady behind-the-scenes stuff, but I love that woman a whole lot more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Reunion recap, part two

The amplifiers growled, the lights came up and the soul of Zachariah's Red-Eye Saloon stepped out from the wings to greet its extended family. The assembled jumped to their feet and the celebration began.

Like Brigadoon emerging from the misty moors, it was as if no time had passed. Unlike the mythical Scottish hamlet, however, this Reunion was real, present and undeniably alive.

KintlaLake Blog can't, of course, convey the sounds of that night. And rather than resorting to a dry account of the performances in the style of a music critic, I'll offer what I can -- images that I had the pleasure of capturing.

Photographs preserve what words could not -- instants of focus, joy, enduring friendship and the spirit that unites players and audience.

In a spontaneous burst of laughter, we see the ecstasy of a daughter sharing the stage with her father. Harmonizing at a shared microphone, two grown men display a bond nurtured over three decades.

The music was spectacular, by the way. You'll just have to take my word for that.

As I write this, it's been 60 hours since the Reunion stage went silent. After an unseasonably warm weekend, winter has returned to central Ohio and light snow is falling outside my window. The Zachariah's family has gone back to everyday jobs and everyday lives.

Until next year, then.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Reunion recap, part one

One of the best parts of shooting a concert is getting there ahead of the crowd, before the show begins. When I walked through the stage door at The LC Saturday evening, several of the players were doing sound checks.

Dave carefully set up stands for his sax and flute. Molly strummed her mandolin, then put it down in favor of her electric bass. A few minutes later, Terry sat down at his pedal-steel guitar, adjusted the bench to his liking and twanged a whimsically mournful tune to an empty house.

The arena's lighting and audio crews clambered and fiddled and fussed, chasing persistent bugs.

In the green room, Steve changed out of his cap and hoodie, donning his trademark straw hat and a black buttoned shirt. He pulled a well-loved Fender bass from its case. While he plucked and tuned we spoke of growing old, wishing aloud for friends who aren't here to grow old with us.

As showtime drew closer, one by one the rest of the performers arrived. Dozens of personal reunions took place before the musical Reunion took the stage. I was treated like a member of the family.

There was laughter and warm hugs, some tears, much quiet conversation and at least one enthusiastic chest-bump.


Backstage moments like these are unknown to most concertgoers, but this is where magic lives, where music begins.

Being a part of it is a singular privilege. I consider myself truly fortunate.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


I'll have more to say later about last night's Zachariah's Red-Eye Reunion. For now, I'll just tell you that it was, as expected, a musical and personal high point.

In less than five exhausting hours of photography I captured more than 600 frames. I'll be thrilled if 20 of them are keepers.

But that's not the point, really.

This annual gathering again reminded me that the heart of the Zachariah's family beats strong on both sides of the footlights. As good as the music is, the smiles and embraces are better.

Love flowed in torrents last night and into the wee hours. That's what I'll remember.

That's what remains. That's what sustains.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Morning scramble

As I sipped my first cup of coffee early this morning, I clicked the send-receive button to check e-mail. There were several messages related to my new job and a couple of slices of fresh spam, plus a note from McGuffey Lane's publicist.

The band wants me to photograph Zachariah's Red-Eye Reunion again this year -- and that's tonight.

I charged every camera and flash battery I could find and cleaned my lenses, all while taking business phone calls and answering e-mails. I soothed my wife's disappointment (and conveyed my own) that we won't be enjoying the entire concert together at the table we've reserved. The spawns will be there, so that's good.

Since my own batteries needed charging, too, I knocked off around 1pm for a quick nap. In a few minutes I'll grab a shower and get ready to head downtown, intending to arrive early to block my shots.

Just like last year, it's gonna be a great night -- and a very long one. Photos to follow.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


While strolling the bookstore a week ago I was drawn to a small blank book wrapped in warm brown leather, its cover secured by a thong. The paper bound inside was of ivory hue and pleasant weight. I brought it home.

I knew there was an old fountain pen somewhere in my desk. I found it, cleaned the nib and installed a new ink cartridge -- blue-black, truly the only choice for a fountain pen.

This blog has become my journal-of-sorts. Still, there's nothing quite like pen and paper, so for the last several days I've committed random thoughts, things seen and overheard, to this little book.

"Begin again."

"IN2B8 U -- anesthesiologist?"

"Second day @job. Having fun. Natural."

"'Legalism is the death of grace.'"

Distinct from my online writing and yet a complement to it, this feels like a habit.

Monday, January 18, 2010

One earthquake at a time

From what I've seen, the Massachusetts GOP could put up a lawn chair against Martha Coakley and take Ted Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat from bumbling Bay State Democrats.

In the person of Scott Brown, it could be argued, the Republicans have found their folding furniture. He stands taller than his opponent only because (politically) she's fallen and can't get up.

Yes, it'll be interesting to see what happens in Massachusetts tomorrow. And no, it won't be a seismic shift if Brown wins -- no matter what partisans and pundits say.

Independent voters, of course, will determine the outcome.

The only truly earth-shaking result would be a victory by Libertarian candidate Joseph Kennedy (no relation). That won't happen, sad to say, but if it did it'd be a big step in the right direction -- away from the two dominant parties and toward government by The People.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Quote of the day

"Amateurs study tactics. Professionals study logistics." (Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, U.S. Army (retired), invoking an ages-old military truism in commenting on the humanitarian-aid mess in post-earthquake Haiti)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Intuition confirmed

It was a good day at the shop. I made a few sales that surprised me, found some parts I expected would elude me and generally felt good about the beginning of my last full week on the job.

Bright sunshine and unseasonably mild temps were the icing on a tasty workday cake.

There was another feeling, however, that I couldn't quite shake. I had a sense -- a strong sense -- that today would be my last day working there. It wasn't based on anything but intuition.

Turns out I was right.

I collected my paycheck and left the shop around 5pm, as usual, picking up pizza and calzone for my family on the way home. About 15 minutes into dinner my phone buzzed -- it was the owner, wondering aloud if there was anything on my desk that I needed to handle personally next week.

Strange question, that.

Eventually he got around to telling me that he'd already found someone to take my spot and asked if I'd mind terribly if today was my last day. We exchanged sincere gratitude -- mine for his confidence, he for my contributions -- and left it at that.

"It was great having somebody smart around here for a change," he chuckled before saying goodbye. "Besides me, I mean."

It was just a job and it lasted only ten weeks. It also was absolutely right, the best way I could've spent that time.

I'm moving on to something better -- and I get to do it now.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

On notice: Haiti

Off the top here, I encourage all readers of KintlaLake Blog to donate $10 to earthquake-relief efforts in Haiti by sending the text message HAITI to 90999 -- if, that is, you're already involved in the life of your own community, and unless it's just a perfunctory feel-good thing for you.

I did, I am and it's not.

Pay attention to what's unfolded in Haiti over the last 36 hours. Notice how human nature expresses itself in the wake of disaster. See what happens when prison walls crumble and convicts roam the streets. Look at the way chaos establishes order and a brutal new hierarchy spreads over the land.

Try to look past the fact that Haiti is the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Resist the arrogant temptation to assume that it "can't happen in America."

It can and, inevitably, it will. Watch, learn and prepare accordingly.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Often confused

After dinner this evening, the KintlaLake family ducked into a local bookstore. My wife was in the market for a blank book to hold her journal and our younger spawn needed to pick out a biography for a school assignment.

I browsed the aisles for a while, snagging a copy of Thomas Paine's Common Sense -- from the bargain bin, for cryin' out loud -- and a couple of magazines. Fifteen minutes on I bumped into the 14-year-old and asked if he'd found a bio that interested him.

"Yup, Nelson Mandela."

I was impressed -- very mature of him to want to learn more about such a giant. "Wow, that's great," I said.

", wait." He looked down at the hard-bound book in his hand.

"Sorry, I meant Howie Mandel. My bad."

I couldn't have made that up if I'd tried.


We had an unusual convergence of weather phenomena here this morning -- dense, humid air and pre-dawn temps in the single digits. This "freezing fog" gave everything a light coating, and my wife called me from her commute to urge me to get outside with my camera before the shimmer burned off.

I didn't quite make it in time. Instead, I'm posting another image from Sunday morning's

This unremarkable photograph has the benefit of bumping the former Mayor of Wasilla off the top of KintlaLake Blog.

I stand by the commentary, but I grew tired of a mindless ideologue winking at me from my screen.

Kinda spooky, actually.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Matchmaker, matchmaker...

"Sarah Palin only needs a red rubber nose and some exploding shoes and she could go back to work for Barnum and Bailey. The fact that we give this clown any time at all is shocking and silly and a little bit stupid." (Ron Reagan, August 2009)

'Up with which I shall not put'

That memorable phrase, often misattributed to Winston Churchill, reportedly was on the subject of prepositions. When I say it today, it's about propositions.

My 75-year-old mother-in-law is an alcoholic and a mean-spirited drunk, daily downing more than a dozen stiff drinks between noon and bedtime. Her husband, five years her senior, is a classic enabler. Both are up to their eyeballs in denial.

Together, they've given my family and me a roof while we rebuild our lives, a choice for which we're grateful. They also join in wave after cruel wave of emotional abuse, usually directed toward their adult daughter, my wife.

I knew that there would come a point at which two propositions -- rightfully expressing our gratitude while we silently absorb their harassment -- would collide. That happened last night, when my in-laws relentlessly (and unjustifiably) belittled an anguished Mrs. KintlaLake.

I no longer could excuse the inexcusable. I lost my practiced ability to tolerate the intolerable.

I called my mother-in-law "a [expletive deleted] old drunk."

Her husband rose up and popped me in the mouth -- twice.

Knowing that I'm considerably larger and stronger than this brittle, feeble man, I picked him up by the breast of his shirt and deposited him in an overstuffed chair, ignoring his repeated kicks to my groin.

Not long thereafter, a pair of "official" visitors entered the house, stayed for a couple of hours' quiet conversation, then left us to ourselves. Everyone went to bed.

There were a lot of bad decisions, mine among them, last night. Re-living those events, however, is far from my thoughts right now.

Mrs. KintlaLake is under a doctor's orders to stay in bed and rest -- she's an incredibly strong woman who's at risk of crumbling under the stress inflicted by her parents, and her well-being is my first priority. I'm also concerned for our spawns, so at the same time I'm mindful of their welfare.

As for our hosts, until my father-in-law demonstrates that he's actively engaged in moving heaven and earth to get his wife into counseling and treatment for her alcoholism -- which is, in point of fact, at the root of every single conflict in this house -- I have nothing to say about, for or to them.

That we simply should put up with her booze-fueled hatefulness and his complicity -- or that our only alternative is to flee -- are propositions which I categorically reject.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Winter landscape (illustrated)

With the mercury hovering near zero this morning, I pulled on my layers and ventured out toward our
common space.

A few small birds followed over my head, swooping and perching and complaining out loud. A light overnight dusting couldn't hide signs that rabbits, deer and a lone fox had preceded me to the otherwise silent winter woods.

The creek wasn't frozen over -- that surprised me. Sunlight glinted off chunks of ice along the banks. I reached down and scooped up a handful of powdery snow, admiring its glisten for a moment before letting it slip out through my gloved fingers.

This, I thought, is why I live where there are four seasons.

By the way, don't talk to me about how winters somewhere else are harsher or colder, snowier or more picturesque -- of course they are. Climatic competition doesn't interest me, not in the slightest.

This is our winter.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Winter landscape, lame duck

Late this afternoon, it stopped snowing.

Oh, we're not buried up to our chins or anything, but for 14 straight days we've had white stuff in the air -- flurries and squalls, mostly, with the exception of eight inches' accumulation Thursday and Friday. It's been breezy and cold, too, about 15°F to 20°F below normal for this time of year, so all of our wintry precipitation has been of the dry-and-fluffy variety.

Imagine living inside a snow globe and you've got the idea.

I love it -- the driving, the walking, the working and especially the way that snow cover muffles sound. I hope it sticks around a while.

At the shop, the last few days have been awkward (to say the least). Other than the owner and the parts manager, I'm not sure how many of my co-workers know that I'll be gone after the 22nd, but I know. It's just strange.

Still, in full possession of my work ethic, I do my job just as I would if I planned to stay. That attitude is, in my experience (and at the risk of blowing my own horn), rare. I think it's also why I was asked to stay on for a couple of weeks.

From this point I have 12 more calendar days, nine more workdays, five days off and three more paydays before I move on.

I guess I already have, but I'll be damned if I'll let it show.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Gonna be some changes made

Over the course of 30-plus years in the working world, at times I've found (or made) my opportunities. Other times the opportunities have found me.

This morning, presented with the latter, I gave my two weeks' notice at the motorcycle shop. My conversation with the owner was, for lack of a better word, saddening -- both of us are disappointed that our professional relationship has been so brief.

Ultimately my decision was grounded in what's best for my family and me. My last day at the shop will be January 22nd, and I'll start a new job on Monday the 25th.

For the most part I'll be piloting a desk again -- my own desk, right here at home in Buckeye Nation. That's what I do best, it seems, and it's what the universe wants me to do.

As for where I'll be working (for whom, that is), I reserve the right to be coy. I will say, however, that I can't remember the last time I was this excited about a professional move. My work will dovetail nicely with KintlaLake Blog, too. I'll leave it at that for now.

I'll miss the cozy shop, the backroads commute (especially on snowy days like today) and the small, salt-of-the-earth town where I've worked the past two months. Other than that, this is a big step in the right direction without being a stepping stone to something else.

I'm jazzed.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Lessons in layers

I work with a guy who's close to my age, maybe a few years younger. He hails originally from central Michigan, a snowier and colder clime. He grew up hunting and fishing year 'round and still enjoys both. He's not a 24-7 camo-and-orange kind of guy, mind you, but he has a respectable outdoorsman's resume.

One would think, then, that the weather we've been having here lately -- teens to mid-20s with light, wind-blown snow -- wouldn't faze him, and yet at the shop, even during long stretches spent indoors, he complains of being cold.

Sometimes the
lessons take. Sometimes they don't.

Ok, we work in and around a drafty, poorly insulated concrete-block building with a poured floor. The furnace is unreliable and, even when it works, it puts out barely enough so-called heat to take the edge off the chill. So no, it's not ideal, but it's more than livable.

The solution, indoors or out, is practicing the art of layering. (If that's as much of a no-brainer for you as it is for me, feel free to stop reading here.) There should be an inner layer to wick away the body's moisture (perspiration), middle layers (note the plural) to trap warmth and, for trips outside, a top layer that blocks wind and wet.

I'm amazed that so many folks ignore the benefit of a wicking inner layer, or who wear cotton fabric next to their skin and expect to stay warm -- "cotton kills," or so goes the truism. I wear flimsy bargain-store polypropylene and it's just fine for my workday purposes.

Polypro sock liners are a must. Depending on where I am and what I'm doing, synthetic glove liners help a lot, too.

For my warmth-trapping middle layers, fleece rules. Wool runs a close second, but decent fleece is lighter and shares wool's ability to insulate when wet. It's relatively inexpensive as well, especially this time of year -- while browsing our local Gander Mountain the other day, I saw half-zip pullovers for $10 and vests for $15. At those prices, fifty bucks can buy a winter's wardrobe of serviceable fleece.

Piling on layers is good, but (other than the wicking layer) they should be loose-fitting. Compressing insulating layers robs them of the ability to trap the body's heat -- bundling-up tight creates a system that'll conduct warmth out and cold in.

That goes for feet, too -- a thin polypro liner under a thick wool sock and a stout boot works for me. (I'd wear waterproof, insulated leather boots if I were hiking, camping or otherwise trudging through snow for long periods.) I leave the laces tight enough for support but loose enough to avoid compressing the wool.

Like I said earlier, all this layering stuff is pretty natural for me. It probably is for you, too. And although I'm not going to spend a lot of time trying to educate my co-worker, I probably should have a chat with our older spawn. He came into the house shivering last night after spending all of five minutes outdoors -- attired in slip-on shoes (no socks), t-shirt and shorts.

Then again, maybe that'd be an equally poor use of my time.

Slabs in hand

I promised to post a photo of my hardwood prize from's holiday drawing, and here it is -- a gorgeous set of scales in spalted curly maple.

Appropriately Canadian maple, I presume.

I have no idea what I'll do with these slabs, and that's fine. I think I'll keep them 'til inspiration strikes me. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Cold day in the yard

Beyond chronicling a steady wind and the fine, crystalline snow that pelted us in dense squalls from mid-morning 'til well past nightfall, it's hard for me to describe today's scene out in the salvage yard. A couple of photos will have to suffice.

Sharps: Kids & knives

(Reprinted from the January issue of From the Edge, published monthly by, with permission. Subscribe to this newsletter here.)

In last month's From the Edge, we urged you to "share your passion [for knives] with…the young people in your life."

That's not as easy as it used to be. In fact, you may have heard that the Scout Association in the U.K. (the equivalent of the Boy Scouts of America) has all but banned Scouts and their parents from bringing knives to camp.

KnivesShipFree isn't inclined to get political and we're not going to start now. All the same, taking knives out of the hands of Boy Scouts strikes us as flat-out wrong.

We believe that introducing kids to knives not only is acceptable, it's the right thing to do for a lot of reasons. It also has to be done the right way, of course, and we'd like to offer a few suggestions.

How young is too young?
We get that question a lot, and here's our simple answer: It depends.

As a parent or mentor, you're a first-hand witness to a child's development and, as we all know, kids mature at different rates. Notice how the youngster deals with concepts like learning and frustration in other areas of life and use your observations to gauge when the time is right to put a knife into their hands.

Begin without a knife.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but in the context of our previous suggestion it makes sense.

Think about it -- you're contemplating entrusting a kid with a tool that can harm as surely as it helps, so the most important concept you'll be teaching is responsibility.

With that in mind, first create an environment of responsibility and then, at the proper moment, introduce a knife.

Set a good example.
For better and often for worse, children mimic what they observe. If you're the kind of knife knut who plays mumblety-peg with your adult friends or twirls your Bowie like a majorette with a baton, you can be absolutely sure that the young people in your life will imitate your behavior.

If you think that they won't -- or that they won't see you -- think again. You're a teacher by deeds as well as words. Keep it clean.

Keep it simple.
This advice applies to both tools and skills. That "first knife" probably should be a single-blade model, and it's usually advisable to teach making fuzz sticks before moving on to whittling, batoning and shelter-building.

Also, you might want to consider starting with a small fixed-blade knife rather than a folder. Opening and closing a pocketknife safely is another skill to be learned, and some kids can find it intimidating.

Start small, go slow.
As enthusiastic as you may be about edged tools, it can be tempting to rush the learning process -- giving a kid a knife that’s too big or teaching skills before a child is mentally, physically or emotionally ready to absorb them.

The child, like any student, is your barometer of what to teach and when. Pay close attention. They’ll let you know.

Don’t be a geek.
Be aware that your passion for knives might cross the line into outright geekiness. You can speak with authority about every grind, pattern, steel and maker. We’re not naming names here, but c'mon, you know who you are.

There may be no faster way to sabotage a child's interest than to have an encyclopedia for a teacher. Put a sock in it -- unless, of course, the kid you're teaching is a geek. In that case, by all means go for it.

If you can, teach history.
Encyclopedic knowledge notwithstanding, and if a child shows an interest in the "why" behind knives, take the opportunity to share the history of edged tools -- the stories of natives and settlers, the influence of woodsmen and knifemakers, and so forth.

It's our duty, quite frankly, to pass this rich tradition to the generations that follow our own. Depending on the kid, this might be your chance.

Keep the Band-Aids handy.
We've never met anyone who didn't cut themselves while learning to use their first knives. Most of us still do from time to time.

So yes, cuts are going to happen. Expect it.

Be sure to have a first-aid kit -- stocked with adhesive strips, butterfly bandages and some sort of soothing antiseptic salve or spritz -- nearby.

Remember the point.
Ultimately, edged tools simply are our means to a variety of ends -- a warm fire, a successful hunt, a well-prepared meal. In other words, it's not about the knife -- it's about skills.

When you bring a knife into a child's life, teach from that perspective. Focus on what they can do with a tool rather than on the inanimate object in their hands.

Let kids teach you.
We saved this for last because it's the best part of introducing kids to knives. If you're a parent, you already know what we're talking about.

Children, taught with patience, often remind us that we don't know everything. In their learning, they show us what we've forgotten. If we're truly aware, they can teach us as much as we teach them -- and that, in the end, is the greatest reward.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

As seen on TV

Toward the end of today's NFL game between the Texans and the Patriots, I saw five Houston fans graphically exhorting the home crowd to assert its advantage -- at least that's what they meant to do, anyway.

I did a double-take, but sure enough...and here's evidence that my eyes weren't playing tricks on me.

I guess a box of Crayolas doesn't come with a spell-checker.

Blog 2009: The word cloud

Friday, January 1, 2010

Just numbers

The act of publishing this adds "2010" to the archive over there on the right side of the page. Lacking anything significant to say this New Year's morning, that's the sole reason for this post.

2010, 2009, 2008 -- it hardly seems possible that this is the third calendar year in which I've posted here. I guess KintlaLake Blog has legs after all.

More numbers: 555 posts over the course of 22 months, 202,000 words comprising 1.2 million characters, accompanied by 650 images of one sort or another. My offline archive stretches past 350 pages of 10-point type.

The mind reels. Mine does, anyway.

Sitting here now, nursing a headache brought on by a half-glass of dry champagne, I have some important off-the-blog writing to do before the sun sets. For background relief and entertainment, I'll keep my desk-side TV tuned to college football. I hope to do a load or two of laundry.

Nothing else needs to happen today.