Saturday, February 27, 2010

Yellowed pages

While taking some hard-won time today to unwind, I stumbled across a digital edition of a turn-of-the-(last)-century magazine called Outing. Published from the 1880s into the 1920s, Outing ran the gamut of outdoor sports, notably hunting, fishing, hiking and the like.

I'd found a compendium of 1918 issues, more than 800 pages in all, and what appealed most to me were the ads. I present three of them here -- two for Colt firearms and one for Webster Marble's venerable edged tools -- trimmed by an endearing excerpt from a 1915 article entitled, "Knives I have Known: How Various Types Meet the Real Woodsman's Test of Ability to Slice Bacon" by C.L. Gilman.

"Neither as a weapon nor as a means of giving his prey the thrust of mercy has the knife any claim to a place on the belt of the wilderness adventurer. And right here the knife serves, if one may borrow some from the Book of Rites of the Boy Scouts, as a ready guide to the three preliminary degrees of woodsmanship.

"First, there is the tenderfoot, who carries a sheath knife of the bowie pattern on his hip ready for cutting the throat of the buck he expects to find posing for his rifle and for that hand-to-hand grapple with an infuriated bear which lurks pleasantly shuddersome in his imagination.

"Next comes the 'second-class' scout who, having found no fighting or throatcutting to flesh his maiden steel, makes pompous parade of his wearing no knife at all.

"Finally, there are a few who, having passed and persevered through the two first stages, may fairly lay claim to the title of 'first-class scout' who have a real use in mind for the blades which dangle from the reefing straps of their breeches. And that use is generally slicing bacon with a little skinning and general whittling on the side. A good bacon knife will peel the hide from a muskrat very neatly and then -- after sundry and searching purifying processes -- go back to slicing bacon.

"Careful case-keeping on the uses made of a sheath knife during twelve months of woods living shows the slicing of bacon far in the lead, snipping browse second and general whittling, potato peeling, and skinning trailing along in the order named."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

'Start over'

I have my small desk-side TV tuned to CNN as I answer e-mails and manage some website issues this morning. The network is airing live coverage of a health-care "summit" convened by Pres. Obama.

Over an hour into this dog-and-pony show, it's what I'd expect from a bunch of federal elected officials. It's been a predictable exchange of talking points, with one notable exception -- the President himself.

He began by trying to set a tone of collaboration and compromise, encouraging participants to discuss substantive issues and to seek whatever common ground may exist. Because he was addressing a bunch of Congressional leaders -- read, "entrenched ideologues" -- that didn't happen, of course.

Majority-drunk Democrats want to jam an existing bill through the legislative sausage-grinder. Republicans, dragging their obstructive feet all the way to November, want to "start over."

Both have the right idea. They just don't know it.

Specific to health-care reform, finally the ball is rolling. There's no longer a clean slate, no fresh sheet of paper. In that sense, I back Democrats' wish to press forward rather than retreat -- no, not the typically stubborn defense of legislation now on the table, but rather an atypically honest effort to engage in constructive conversation.

I also agree with GOP leaders that it's not too late to "start over." By their definition, that means purging the legislative system of the Dems' proposals. By mine, it means dropping the "loyal opposition" act and doing precisely what the President suggested at the summit's outset -- climbing out of their partisan trench and conducting themselves as if they're truly interested in accomplishing something for The People.

Neither side will make my wish come true -- I know that. But hey, a guy can dream, can't he?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Six Big Lies

Yes, I was a "spin doctor" in a previous life. As a practitioner of critical thought, however, I've grown weary of six Big Lies.

Big Lie #1: "We've turned the corner."
This flows from the belief that upticks in equity markets, sporadic reports of quarterly profits and anecdotal accounts of hiring are so-called "leading indicators" of a hoped-for economic turnaround.

Don't believe it.

We haven't yet learned that recovery will begin only when we, individually and collectively, change the ways that we consume and spend. I
f our goal is to return to "the way things were" before the downturn, we're dooming ourselves (and likely our children) to "the way things are" right now.

Until we move from want-driven consumption closer to need-based consumption, nothing of long-term consequence will change.

We can't rely on providers of goods and services to cooperate -- they'll continue to play to our desires and prey on our emotions. It's up to us to resist their hype. We have to make better choices.

Big Lie #2: "We must cut taxes and reduce the national debt."
Like a woman who slathers on makeup to hide her age, this Big Lie is a "blocker" -- attractive from a block away, but d
on't look too closely.

Reining-in revenue is (by itself) wholly incompatible with eliminating debt. It's simple-minded (along with delusional and selfish) to favor political candidates because they promise to cut our taxes -- it exacerbates the problem rather than solving it.

Lightening the burden on the next generation can be accomplished only through a combination of increasing revenue and reducing spending. Taxes will need to be higher, not lower, and government services must be far fewer.

Pay attention, all you low-hanging-fruit conservatives: gutting social-welfare programs won't get the job done. Spending would need to be slashed throughout the bureaucracy, and that includes defense and infrastructure. Get a grip on that.

It's fine, especially in hard times, to complain about the taxes we pay, but let's start telling the truth about that and stop trying to turn this Big Lie into a pseudo-intellectual argument.

Big Lie #3: "The Tea Party can be a player."
The current incarnation of the Tea Party is little but a smoke-screen for anti-administration ideologues. Soon it'll be reduced to a handful of far-right klaxons within the Republican Party and that'll be that.

What's more, the Tea Party shames true independence. It claims to be beholding neither to the Democrats nor to the Republicans and makes good on only half of its promise. It's a scam, and an extremist scam at that.

Our political climate doesn't need a third party. We need millions more independent citizens who pledge allegiance to no party.

Big Lie #4: "It's Obama's economy."
It's no more credible to blame (or praise) this President than it is to blame (or praise) previous administrations. The government isn't the problem -- we're the problem.

In short, there are entirely too many people bitching about bailouts while paying for an oil change at a GM dealer with a Citi VISA card.

This is our economy. We created it, we broke it and we must fix it.
Until we get that -- and act like it -- what's broken can't be fixed.

Big Lie #5: "Bipartisanship."
Party loyalty reigns. Collaboration is dead.
Statements to the contrary are sheer puffery.

Our only escape from The Big Lie of Bipartisanship is independence -- not just independence from the two dominant parties, but from political and ideological herds in general.

Big Lie #6: "Socialism."
This canard owes its life to The Cult of Talk Radio. That alone would be enough to torpedo its credibility.

Any attempt to label the current administration as "socialist" reflects a gross misunderstanding of "socialism" itself. Adding insult to ignorance, objecting only to "socialist" government programs that fail to line-up with conservative ideology, while giving a convenient pass to pets of the far right, is intellectually laughable.

And that's the rub, really, with all of these Big Lies -- under scrutiny, they're patently ridiculous.

Because the future of my country is at stake, however, I don't feel much like laughing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Stain

After seeing a disturbing animated map on CNN this morning, I went looking for its source. I found it here.

The animation, developed by Latoya Egwuekwe using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, presents a time-lapse image of U.S. unemployment over the last three years. In January of 2007, a year prior to the "official" start of this recession, the map looked like this:

Counties in gray and beige had relatively high employment (97% or more), while the counties in darker colors had higher unemployment. The national unemployment rate at that time was 4.6%.

Fast-forward to December of last year, the most recent month for which statistics are available, and the map looks like this:

In just three years the national unemployment rate had more than doubled to 9.3%, and that didn't account for millions of under-employed Americans and those who had abandoned altogether their search for work.

The two images I've posted are plenty startling enough, but you really need to go to the animation page and watch the stain of joblessness creep across our country.

Recovery? My ass.

I've been back working for about four months now, but I haven't forgotten the pain of the preceding two-plus years. I'm also neither naive nor so ideologically deluded as to think that we've "recovered" from anything.

This is only the beginning.

Road trip V: Last stop

Every time I've taken a vacation, long or short, there's always a pile of work to greet me when I return. I spent yesterday digging out from under a mountain -- dozens of e-mails and voice-mails reminded me that it's a pleasure to be employed.

No worries, no complaints -- it's all good.

My family and I got a late start Sunday morning, chalking up our tardiness to exhaustion and an extraordinarily comfortable motel room. Once we got rolling, however, we clicked off miles efficiently, almost effortlessly. We marveled at spectacular icefalls draping the highway cuts, made a game of spotting deer grazing by the roadside and generally enjoyed the bright, clear day.

I tend to resist detours on a home-stretch run, but as we approached northern West Virginia I saw that we had time to grant my wife's wish to stop at one of her old haunts. The 45-minute side-trip for comfort-food, Morgantown-style, was well worth the time we took.

Mrs. KintlaLake ordered up her usual burrito, as did our younger spawn. The older boy had sweet'n'spicy tortilla chips and I dined on chili with a side of fries'n'bleu, the restaurant's signature fare.

I think it was the 18-year-old who noticed an old phone booth outside the front windows. I snapped a quick photo with my cell phone, appreciating fully the techno-irony of what I was doing.

The final three-and-a-half-hour dash back to central Ohio was pleasantly uneventful and relatively quiet, each of us keeping to our own thoughts. Likewise, our re-entry into these imperfect quarters was without incident.

Somehow, I believe that our dinner stop had something to do with all of that, putting us at well-fed peace and serving as the perfect cap on a great road trip.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Road trip IV: The return

I'm sitting here in my office once again, drained of physical and emotional energy. We made it back to the house in good time late today, avoiding bad weather and beating the sun to the horizon.

Crossing the snow-covered mountains on I-68 was a pleasure during daylight hours, by the way.

My late father's oaken tool chest rests on my workbench. It represents the tangible cargo collected over the past 52 hours, but we brought home much more than that.

My family and I drew closer, grew stronger and gained a better understanding of the connections we share with each other. Through hours of conversation and countless moments that didn't require words, the four of us are more than we were on Friday afternoon.

Treasures fill that old tool chest and, thanks to a road trip, my heart is full as well.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Road trip III: Three old women

Interstate 95 took us south and I-64 east to Williamsburg after dawn this morning. We rolled up to the condo where my mother and my sister live just after noon.

Thus began a three-hour visit with two people I hadn't seen in five-plus years. It's a long story, and today wasn't quite the catharsis you might expect.

That said, the time we spent there was pleasant and long enough.

Turning back the way we'd come, next we prepared for another reunion of sorts, this time with one of my wife's old friends.

The deep snow was melting fast today up in the mid-Virginia foothills, making the unpaved roads muddy enough to deserve the label "quagmire." It was dark by the time we slithered to a stop in front of a log cabin hidden in the woods.

There are so many ways to describe my wife's friend -- Dutch, hippie, stroke victim, widow, free spirit. Tonight we ferried her to a store selling her brand of unfiltered smokes and took her out to dinner.

"Memorable" doesn't come close to describing the evening.

We'll slog back home tomorrow. Now I lay me down to sleep...

(posted via mobile phone)

Road trip II: Into night

Left at 3:45pm, drove hard 'til midnight, now stopped at a motel north of Fredericksburg, Virginia. A few observations...

My family does good road. I-68 was a white-knuckler. I'm not the night-driver I used to be. For the first time, the TrailBlazer felt small.

Left a McDonald's in Frederick, Maryland just before cops locked down the whole block.

Truck stops are the best. Must visit the USMC museum sometime.


(posted via mobile phone)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Road trip I: Loose ends

It looks like my family and I will begin our road trip, postponed once already, late this afternoon.

My wife is off to work and the spawns are on their way to school. I was at my desk working before 5am, planning to wrap things up by noon. At that point I'll pack, prepare the TrailBlazer, await the return of the rest of my family and we'll head east toward the mountains.

I've mapped our route, along with a couple of alternates in case of bad weather or man-made hiccups, and this trip we'll bring our GPS. We need to make good time to accomplish the 1,200-mile whirlwind adventure in two-and-a-half days, so I have my fingers crossed that the main roads, at least, will be clear.

When I start packing this afternoon I'll be considering more than the requisite toothbrush and change of clothes. I'll include provisions for first aid, communications, food, water, fire and yes, defense. (The last, incidentally, will account for two states that haven't yet codified reciprocity agreements with Ohio.) Fortunately, it should be a simple matter of collecting four grab'n'go bags and a few other items.

I am, by at least two definitions, anxious, both looking forward to the all-too-rare weekend trip and dreading hours-long drones along iffy Interstate highways, especially at night.

More from the road, I think.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Sharps: Bravo!

After a long wait,
Bark River Knives has produced another run of its stellar Bravo-1. Until this week, dealers' stock had dwindled to only a few or dried up altogether. Now, to the delight of Barkaholics in particular and knife knuts in general, they're back.

We have three of these masterpieces in the KintlaLake household, so we won't be joining the feeding frenzy -- but, if you'll pardon my unequivocal recommendation, you should.

With all due respect to other makers and other blades, I know of no better all-around, do-it-all, damn-it-all, would-you-like-fries-with-that knife available today.

Bark River offers the Bravo-1 in an array of handle materials, as is the case with all of its knives, but I go for black canvas Micarta, preferably matte. It's the least expensive choice and arguably the most durable. The Kydex sheath that's standard-issue with a synthetic-handled Bravo-1 isn't to my liking but is easily remedied.

I've tried the Sharpshooter Sheath Systems Bravo-1 Field Sheath with its nifty firesteel loop and it's fine, very well made, but I've found something I like better -- the KSF Leather Bravo-1 Loveless-Style Pouch Sheath, which also happens to be made by Sharpshooter.

In case you missed it, that's another recommendation.

Finally, if you're more of a fan of stainless steel (as opposed to the original Bravo-1's A-2 tool steel), you'll have to wait a bit longer -- word is that another run of the CPM-154 Bravo-1 SS will be out in a few weeks.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


This latest winter storm, our third in two weeks, began yesterday morning. It snowed steadily for about 20 hours, continuing in squalls well after daybreak today.

Atypically, metro Columbus and its surrounding communities took the brunt of the blast -- usually we dodge the big accumulations, but not this time. All of the schools (including Ohio State's main campus) and many businesses are shut down, and what's not closed is delayed.

It's great.

I would've liked to get down to the woods this afternoon but settled for experiencing our winter wonderland during a quick trip to the post office. My TrailBlazer sat in the driveway, which had been shoveled clean before dusk last night, under ten inches of snow. Once it was cleared off I got underway, the little four-wheel-driver churning eagerly up and out of the semi-plowed neighborhood.

I roosted repeatedly, gleefully, broadsliding at every opportunity just to annoy the locals. This is, at long last, winter -- and isn't that what winter is for?

On having three

As we wrapped up our purchases Saturday afternoon, Mrs. KintlaLake and I were asked about magazines. The LCP and the P22 were supplied with just one apiece, so we bought two more for each pistol.

That decision, like many others we make, came down to a single fundamental principle of preparedness:
"Two is one, and one is none."
It's a truism closely related to Murphy's Law, "shit happens" and "best-laid plans" -- having a tool or a plan is essential, but having a backup can save your life.

My wife and I view magazines as consumable items, arguably the weakest mechanical link in the armed-defense chain. Being prepared with two loaded mags is a no-brainer, really, and for us that means three, assuring us of two -- which is, in principle, one.

Beyond this case-in-point are myriad other examples of our pattern of three-fers, notably:
Starting a fire (matches, lighter, firesteel);
Purifying water (boiling, chemicals, filtration);
Communication (mobile phone, GMRS, CB); and
Evacuation (three escape routes, three shelters).
It's less versatility than contingency. Nessmuk and Kephart advocated their trios, a concept evolving from the need to accomplish multiple tasks, not from a wish for redundancy. Their approach is instructive, however, if not quite parallel, and it can be useful when extended to the rest of a preparedness scheme.

It's a mindset thing.

And so, whenever possible, we prefer to have three. Actually, specific to magazines, we consider it wise to have ten (at least) for each firearm -- but that's another story for another day.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Relative defense

In yesterday's post I assembled a to-scale image showing the relative sizes of the Walther P22 and Ruger LCP. Perhaps it'd also be useful to illustrate those new-to-us pistols compared to the pair of Glocks they've joined.

Clockwise from top: Glock 19, Glock 26, Ruger LCP, Walther P22.

Most readers probably are familiar with the ubiquitous G19. With that as a reference point, then, today's image makes it clear that my wife and I have added a couple of significantly down-sized handguns to our family of arms.

What's not obvious is how much slimmer the P22 and LCP are than the G19 and G26 -- single-stack magazines vs. double-stacks, along with the Walther's diet of .22LR, are (in part) to thank for that.

In closing, some caveats. First, the Glocks remain our primaries. We're more familiar with them at this point, of course, and the 9x19 round gives us a much wider variety of options for effective defense.

And that brings up the whole question of caliber. Conventional wisdom instructs that carrying anything that doesn't begin with a 4 and end with a 5 is good only for knocking cans off of fenceposts. For a variety of reasons, based on our own experience and that of others far wiser, we don't subscribe to that.

When invited to a critical personal-defense incident, rule #1 is be armed -- no point in pining for a "better" gun at home in the safe. Whatever we're carrying at the time -- 9mm, .380, .22, .45 -- is what my wife and I will use to defend ourselves and our family.

In that dynamic moment, an elephant-gun round that misses its mark is useless. Shot placement is the key, regardless of caliber, and that happens reliably and consistently only through training and practice, which remains our focus.

Singer, not song.

Incidentally, I still feel pretty good about complying with the
Fred Thompson Rule. I've posted only stock images, not photos of our strategically modified arms, and I've said nothing about our tactics or choice of defensive rounds. My disclosures comprise only a fraction of what we have, what we do.

As I've said, "to do otherwise would be imprudent."

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mission accomplished

Mrs. KintlaLake and I did indeed go shopping yesterday, spending some carefully managed funds we'd set aside for the purpose. It was part personal-defense acquisition, part Valentine's Day gift exchange.

At the risk of breaking the
Fred Thompson Rule -- "I own a couple of guns, but I'm not going to tell you what they are or where they are" -- I'll divulge what we brought home.

For my Valentine, who's long struggled to conceal a small-but-chunky Glock 26 on her slender frame, I bought a Ruger LCP. This ultra-pocketable pistol, with six rounds of .380 Auto on tap, will serve her better simply because she'll be inclined to carry it more. It'll live in a black-leather DeSantis Trickster, at least to start with. She is, in a word, ecstatic.

My missus marked the occasion by getting me a Walther P22 in "military" (OD) trim. Certainly, ten rounds of .22LR won't replace my Glock 19's 15 rounds of 9mm, but the P22 will be a worthy BUG and ideal for logging cheap trigger time. Another benefit, I think, will be drilling on a different manual-of-arms. I'm still mulling over my own carry options, although I do have a few ideas.

The whole buying experience, by the way, which took place at an independent outdoor-sports retailer northeast of here, was just super. It's a big store, but the crew behind the gun counter are knowledgeable and personable. They worked together, even though they were take-a-number busy, to make sure that my wife and I were informed as well as satisfied. We'll definitely do business there again.

Next stop: the range. We can't wait.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


We decided to push back our road trip by a week. Eyeing weather and travel conditions along the route, it just made (common) sense.

And so my family and I will settle into our regular weekend routine here in suburban
alcohell -- relaxing, doing laundry, maybe making a trip to the grocery to re-stock our separate pantry. Stuff like that.

In this house that's not our own, the four of us have made our physical home in the chilly comfort of an unfinished basement. It's where we cook and eat, where I work, where the spawns watch TV and play video games and where my wife feels safe. We sleep peacefully in three upstairs bedrooms, our other booze- and dysfunction-free zone, and we remit our share of household utilities to our antagonistic hosts but pay them little attention.

It all must sound odd -- and ok, it is -- but it works for now.

Outside these walls the neighborhood is frozen, up to its pretentious knees in white. When I took the dogs out this morning I saw that another half-inch had fallen since midnight. More is on the way, they say, tomorrow and Monday. Fine by me.

Events in the wider world, as reported from
Huntsville and elsewhere, have me wondering if the political undercurrent that threatens our Second Amendment rights might be tempted soon to rise into a wave. Perhaps my wife and I will add a shopping excursion to our Saturday rituals.

It's one trip that we shouldn't postpone any longer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Gettin' right down to it

I spotted this Hank Williams, Jr. music video this morning. For me it struck edgy echoes of others I've posted on KintlaLake Blog -- "Close to the Land" and "This is My Home."

Put away your redneck stereotypes, now, 'cause country isn't about politics or parties, candidates or campaigns, Jesus or NASCAR.

It's about precious liberties -- good People living life simply, well and by their own choices.

Damn, how I miss the country...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Palm reading II

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, is a talented spin doctor and one helluva showman. He demonstrates the former daily and proved the latter in yesterday's briefing. Let's go to the photos:

Poking fun at the former Mayor of Wasilla's embarrassing use of
crib notes, Gibbs had these reminders scrawled on his own left palm:
He said that he'd included the last two items "just in case I forgot."

Could the same be said?

In his final film, The Shootist, an ailing John Wayne played likewise-dying gunfighter John Bernard "J.B." Books. Crystallizing the character, who sought to balance his unshakable dignity with the pain brought on by the end of his life, is a line spoken to young admirer Gillom Rogers (Ron Howard):
"I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do those things to other people and I require the same from them."
Over on
KnifeForums the other day, the subject turned to Bowie knives, detouring briefly into a discussion of Jim Bowie himself -- "badass," "coffin-filler" and so on. The man, by all accounts, was every bit of that and then some.

Of particular interest to me was a post quoting Elve Bowie, mother of Jim, who reportedly said this on hearing of her son's death at the Battle of the Alamo in 1836:

"I'll wager no wounds were found in his back."
Putting aside hero-worship, the words spoken by the fictional Books and of the legendary Bowie capture an essence of fierce, principled independence. Each of us should aspire to the same.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Hunkering, for now

Although I didn't mention it, late last week we got almost a foot of snow -- wet, heavy stuff that turned to hydro-concrete when the temps dropped. It took me 45 minutes yesterday morning to liberate my wife's car, which hadn't moved since Friday afternoon and was encased in five inches of stubborn stuff. In the process I destroyed my best snow brush and a brand-new ice scraper.

Now it's snowing again, and the "experts" say that we'll get another five to eight inches by this time tomorrow. They also predict winds gusting over 40mph.

Schools are closed. (Natch.)

I'm on my third cup of coffee here, re-reading Mike Lupica's biting (and correct)
column from yesterday's edition of The Daily News and preparing for another satisfying day of work.

I do need to get out more, though -- and I will, in a big way, this weekend. My family and I are going to log more than a thousand miles over two-and-a-half days, driving to southeastern Virginia to retrieve a few of my late father's possessions. On the return trip we plan to visit one of my wife's old friends and (we hope) make a quick stop in Morgantown.

Time and road conditions will tell. With iffy weather and mountains ahead of us, I'd better ready the TrailBlazer and our grab'n'go kits.

It'll be both an adventure and a grind, that's for sure, but at least it'll get me out of the house -- way out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Palm reading: Nashville, we have a problem

The speech by the former Mayor of Wasilla in Nashville Saturday night was everything I'd predicted. She demonstrated (again) that she's an insubstantial neo-con Barbie and, by putting her on the speakers' platform, the Tea Party showed itself for what it is.

But wait, there's more.

As she gestured during her address, sharp observers couldn't help noticing something on the palm of her left hand -- crib notes, for cryin' out loud, like those scribbled by high-school sophomores who can't quite remember state capitals or the formula for proportions.

Because she was spewing prepared [sic] remarks, she didn't need the cheat-sheet for her speech. But during the Q&A that followed -- a scripted Q&A, no less -- the cameras caught her studying her palm for talking points, with all the subtlety of a 12-year-old trying out Mom's high heels for the first time.

Oh, and what was it that the Queen of Denali needed help with?

Lift American Spirits
This from the woman who'd just chided Pres. Obama for relying on a TelePrompTer.

Despite everything that this intellectual black hole showed us before the election, she got a frightening number of votes from people who judged her qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

And now this.

Scariest of all is knowing that millions of numb-from-the-neck-up Americans still idolize her.

It's all good

Since the middle of the 2009 NFL season, we could point to a juggernaut in each of the league's conferences. Everyone knew that if the stars were to align (as they so rarely do), the Colts and Saints would face-off in the Super Bowl.

Yesterday, they did.

For me, a guy who loves football no matter who's playing, it was a gridiron event with compelling human-interest angles. For my wife, on the other hand, it was something else entirely.

Mrs. KintlaLake had lived in New Orleans in her younger days, developing an affection for the Saints. More recently Indy was home, so she pledges allegiance to the Colts as well. Every year she roots for both teams to win it all -- which means that yesterday she was completely, colossally screwed.

Arriving at a friend's Super Bowl party, she removed her blue coat, adorned with a Colts button, to reveal a black Saints t-shirt. She announced that she'd decided to cheer for long-suffering New Orleans.

In the end, divided loyalties and all, my missus got her wish. I had great fun watching the game myself, of course, but I got far more satisfaction seeing Mrs. KintlaLake realize that she wasn't stuck in a no-win bind after all -- sometime in the middle of the second quarter, it dawned on her that she couldn't possibly lose.

There's a lesson in there somewhere.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super: Dick LeBeau

Unlike last year, Dick LeBeau won't be wearing a headset when the Super Bowl kicks off later today. The Pittsburgh Steelers' 72-year-old defensive coordinator -- a.k.a. "Coach Dad" -- probably will have a good day anyway.

Yesterday, after an inexplicably long wait, LeBeau was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2010.

In 1957, the year I was born, LeBeau played both offense and defense for Coach Woody Hayes at Ohio State. He scored two touchdowns in a 31-14 victory at Michigan, and on New Year's Day 1958 he led the Buckeyes to a Rose Bowl win and a national championship.

LeBeau went on to have a stellar NFL career as a defensive back, playing 14 years for one team, the Detroit Lions.

From his days as a high-school All-American 'til now, the Pride of London, Ohio has played and coached the game the right way. Dick LeBeau always has had my respect, and now he's been granted the honor he earned and so richly deserves.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Is the 'Tea Party' a scam?

Here's a hint: Yes.

Now before you assume that I'm condemning neo-populism wholesale, know that I share much of its outrage and agree generally with many of its principles -- challenging do-nothing incumbents, governing by The People, raising the Constitution and the like.

My problem with the Tea Party, which holds its "convention" in Nashville as I write this, is that it's little more than recycled conservative ideology -- white, rural, anti-Obama.

What it wants to be -- indeed, what it should be -- is libertarian, even independent, but that won't happen until the "movement" stops circling the conservative bowl. Alas, when the former Mayor of Wasilla delivers the convention's keynote address tonight, she'll yank the shiny silver handle that flushes the ill-focused group's credibility.

Railing against "big government" doesn't pass the laugh test in this large and inarguably complex republic -- bureaucracy is a fact of modern life. If what Tea Partiers really want is a government that intrudes less into citizens' private lives then (for example) they'd oppose laws governing a woman's right to choose abortion, mandating one language for all citizens or imposing exclusively Christian doctrines on civil affairs.

Those positions are consistent with smaller government but find little favor in Nashville. We're a Christian nation of English-speaking Caucasians, just like the Founders, don'tcha know.

That kind of paranoid prattle smacks of "little pockets." It doesn't serve The People -- it insults us.

A return to Constitutional principles sounds good, at least on its face, but it falls apart in the hands of the Tea Party. Cherry-picking beneficiaries of the Bill of Rights is only part of the problem -- pro-Christian, anti-media, guns for farmers but not for city folk, etc.

Tea Partiers have an almost sentimental attachment to their anti-big-government spin on the Constitution. It's akin to considering helicopters sinful because they're not mentioned in the Bible.

Hey, you can look it up. (No need to re-administer the laugh test.)

Opposition, no matter how vocal, will carry a shallow "movement" only so far. If and when the Tea Party engages in substantive, real-world advocacy -- grounded in independent thought, divorced from conservative ideology -- I'll pay attention.

Until then, it's nothing but a scam for out-of-work neo-cons.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Rhetorical pearl

"Surely you can question my policies without questioning my faith -- or, for that matter, my citizenship." (Pres. Barack Obama, taking a justified swipe at "birthers" during his speech at today's National Prayer Breakfast)

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Sharps: A closer look, by request

A KintlaLake Blog reader asked for another image or two of the knife I mentioned in my previous post, so here they are -- fingerprints, smudges, pocket-change scratches and all.

Specifically, it's a Kissing Crane #73 canoe, serial #032, scaled in yellow Delrin (I think). It bears the older-style round shield and the tang stamp reads "ROBT KLAAS / SOLINGEN / GERMANY." I don't remember what I paid for it, but I seem to recall having bought it from a mail-order catalog in the mid-'80s.

I'm told that the four-blade canoe pattern is unusual, if not exactly rare. And since virtually all KC production now has moved to China, this wonderfully practical knife is a tangible reminder of a time when "Solingen" actually meant something.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sharps: Decisions, decisions

Last night, in a spontaneous fit of sentiment, I pulled the red Victorinox Farmer from my pocket and handed it to my older spawn.

I mean, I gave it to him -- to keep.

It was a reward of sorts. He'd conducted himself admirably over the weekend, including the night before when an allergic reaction put him in the back of an ambulance on the way to the emergency room. Besides, his grandparents, who raise broken promises to an art form, short-sheeted him at Christmas.

So he deserved that knife, and the look on his face showed me all the appreciation I could've hoped to see. When I rolled out of bed this morning, however, there was no pocketknife on my nightstand where the Farmer used to be.

I wasn't without choices, of course -- quite the opposite, and that was the rub. In fact, it took me a good long while to decide which of my slipjoints I'd slip into my jeans pocket today.

I ended up choosing a 1980s-vintage canoe, a four-blade Kissing Crane (Solingen) with yellow scales. With its filigreed main blade it looks rather like a dandy's knife, but it's always been a favorite of mine. It's solid and useful, and I think it'll ride with me for a while.

I do need to replace that Farmer, though.

Quote of the day

"I'm not so sure the honor system works very well on Wall Street." (Donald Trump)