Sunday, November 28, 2010


The "throwback uniforms" worn by Ohio State during yesterday's win over Michigan were a tribute to the 1942 OSU team that captured the school's first national championship. At a break early in The Game, the crowd of 105,491 paused to recognize a handful of surviving members on-hand for the occasion.
The perspective of history reveals how very special the 1942 Buckeyes were (and are). Among them were five All-Americans: Chuck Csuri, Gene Fekete, Lin Houston, Paul Sarringhaus and Bob Shaw. Six other members of the team earned All-America honors in subsequent years: Warren Amling (twice), Jack Dugger, Bill Hackett, Les Horvath, Cecil Souders and Bill Willis (twice).

Horvath went on to win the 1944 Heisman Trophy.

Three of those players -- Amling, Horvath and Willis -- have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Amling, who also played basketball for Ohio State, is the only member of that Hall who also started an NCAA Final Four game.

Dante "Glue Fingers" Lavelli became a star in the NFL. Willis broke pro football's "color barrier" a year before Jackie Robinson did the same in major-league baseball. Both of those former Buckeyes are now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The head coach of this stellar squad was Paul Brown -- yes, that
Paul Brown. Yesterday he became only the second OSU coach permanently enshrined in Ohio Stadium. (Woody Hayes was the first.) A large plaque honoring Brown was unveiled during yesterday's ceremonies. Its subscript reads, "Ohio's Coach 1932-1991."

For those of us who grasp the breadth of Brown's contributions, the title captures the man perfectly. From Massillon to Ohio State, the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals, he truly was Ohio's coach. On a personal note, my father often told me of cheering on his high-school classmates as they barreled toward their sixth straight state championship, a certain nattily dressed coach prowling the sideline.

The coach was a 32-year-old Paul Brown. The high school's stadium now bears his name.

It's all part of Ohio gridiron history and well known, I suppose. Now here's something that even the most rabid Buckeye fans probably aren't aware of.

On the back of OSU players' helmets yesterday was a sticker bearing the image of a military medal and the letters "CC." The initials are those of All-American tackle Csuri, who also was his team's and the conference's MVP.

Like many of his teammates, Csuri left OSU after the 1942 season to fight in World War II. While a forward observer with the 69th Infantry, helping to direct artillery fire during the Battle of the Bulge, communications went down and the barrage ceased. The young Army corporal volunteered to run dispatches through snow-covered terrain back to Allied headquarters. For his bravery under fire, Csuri was awarded the Bronze Star.

If his story ended right then and there,
Chuck Csuri would be worthy of respect. It doesn't.

This celebrated athlete and decorated combat veteran returned to Ohio State after the war, in 1948 earning a Master's Degree in art and joining the university's faculty a year later. He embraced emerging technology, sought ways to apply it to his discipline and in 1964 created what's considered the first computer art.

Today, Dr. Charles A. Csuri is universally regarded as the father of digital art and computer animation. He's still a Professor Emeritus at The Advanced Computing Center for Art and Design at The Ohio State University -- at age 88.

As football stories go, Ohio State's 1942 national-championship team is a good one. Unwrapping the familiar tale, however, tells us more -- a whole lot more.

I can't help but wonder about the richness and texture that may hide behind all of the other stories I think I know.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Seven makes nine

The Game is still The Game. It just doesn't feel much like a rivalry anymore.

With Ohio State's 37-7 spanking of Michigan this afternoon in The 'Shoe, the Buckeyes notched their seventh straight win over the Wolverines -- a streak unmatched in the 107-game series. OSU coach Jim Tressel has bested U-M nine times in his ten seasons.

Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who abandoned Morgantown for Ann Arbor, runs his record against Ohio State to 0-3. His teams have been outscored 100 to 24.

All of which makes my wife giddy beyond belief. (She's a lifelong Mountaineers fan.)

"I'm ticked," a shell-shocked Rodriguez said during his post-game press conference. "Whaddaya want me to do? Hold hands with all the Buckeye fans and sing 'Kumbaya'?"

Mrs. KintlaLake predicts that U-M will fire Rodriguez. I disagree with her about that, but maybe that's my cockeyed optimism. As far as I'm concerned he can stay as long as he likes.

Whatever. On a cold and windy late-November day when The Ohio State University plays the University of Michigan in football, there's no place I'd rather be than in the stands -- and that's where I was today, reveling in tradition, savoring another victory.

Let someone else gauge lust and luster. It's still The Game.

P.S. to the kill-joy Big Ten officiating crew: I've got your "unsportsmanlike conduct" right here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sharps: Proper mindset, simple tools

It was a little over a year ago that I had a chance to chat with Jeff Randall, co-head honcho of Randall's Adventure & Training and ESEE Knives (formerly known as RAT Cutlery).

When we finally got around to talking knives, Jeff said a couple of things that still stick in my mind. First, this sound advice:

"The biggest fallacy is that gear is necessary to survive. You can't get by on gear -- you need skills. You need to prepare in every aspect of life. And if you don't have the proper mindset, you're going to die."
Translation: Singer, not song. Later, he said this:
"I never carry a RAT into the jungle -- I always carry someone else's knife. Really, just give me a three-blade Old Timer and a ten-dollar machete."
I wouldn't presume to stack my skills against a guy who's spent years training military types, cops and civvies in the art of jungle survival. With respect, however, I present two of my favorite tools.

That grimy, taped-up handle belongs to a 22" Collins machete bought new in 1983 to clear two acres of brush around the first house I owned. It was up to that task and hundreds of others since. Now endearingly scarred from hard use, the "Legitimus" mark barely visible, it continues to
serve me well.

My own "three-blade Old Timer," a made-in-USA #34OT, is 25 years old. My dad often carried a Middleman just like this one, which remains in my regular EDC rotation.

Poll of the day

A recent CBS News poll brings us both good and bad news.

The good news is that 81% of those surveyed said that airports should use full-body scanners to aid air-travel security. Respondents' answers, overall, differed somewhat by political ideology -- 83% of self-identified Republicans approve of the scans, along with 81% of Democrats and 78% of independents.

The bad news, sort of, is that 52% of those surveyed said that air travelers "of certain racial or ethnic groups...[should not] be subject to additional security checks." Broken down by political affiliation, Democrats were the only group with a majority (64%) declaring that racial and ethnic profiling aren't justified. A plurality of independents (47%) also disapproves of profiling, while a slight plurality of Republicans (46%) said that it's justified.

I'm a bit concerned that the results of the second question reflect our national discomfort with any kind of profiling. If the TSA and its counterparts profile only by race or ethnicity -- which is, specifically, what the CBS News poll asked -- that would be a bad thing from a security standpoint.

Fortunately, I can conclude this post with more good news -- for the last seven years the TSA has been conducting what's called "behavioral profiling," a comprehensive and proven technique for identifying high-risk actors before they act.

Quote of the day

"I sat next to [former Mayor of Wasilla Sarah Palin] once, thought she was beautiful. And I think she's very happy in Alaska -- and I hope she'll stay there." (Barbara Bush, in an interview scheduled to air on tonight's edition of Larry King Live)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Don't drink the water

We interrupt this blog for nutritional advice from the good folks at Anheuser-Busch.

While doing some research yesterday afternoon, I ran across this Budweiser ad in a 1917 issue of Forest & Stream. (Click on the ad to see it full-size.)

The "drink beer, not water" pitch got me chuckling. But the table showing that city water contains "waste matter" -- a.k.a. sewage, a.k.a. shit -- and Bud doesn't had me laughing my ass off.

With #7 Ohio State's 20-17 comeback win over Iowa today, this year's Beat Michigan week has begun. Seems as good a time as any to start paying more attention to my nutrition.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I will not fly.

To explain why, I'll begin with the now-familiar threat uttered last week by a 31-year-old software programmer:
"If you touch my junk, I'm gonna have you arrested."
And these are the words of Benjamin Franklin:
"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
I've heard the latter used to defend the former. That, in my opinion, demonstrates both a lack of common sense and a misunderstanding of liberty.

It seems pretty simple to me. The more inventive the terrorists become -- secreting IEDs in shoes or underwear, for example -- the more invasive our security measures must be. Profiling must be more aggressive. Random searches (not triggered by profiling) must be more frequent and less predictable.
Right now, air-travel security involves long lines and big hassles, scanners that can see our nether parts and, if required, pat-downs during which a gloved, uniformed stranger touches those parts. If we want to keep airplanes from falling out of the sky, that's (part of) what has to be done. It is what it is.

Some claim that the scans violate personal privacy and that the pat-downs are a form of sexual assault. While I'll grant that exposing our bodies to x-ray vision might tread on some folks' fragile sensibilities, we do not have a fundamental right to shield ourselves from a measure intended to facilitate the security of a commercial aircraft.

The contention that a security agent's touching of breasts, buttocks and genitals is tantamount to criminal sexual assault -- or even sexual in nature -- is patently absurd. There's neither sexual purpose nor criminal intent.

In support of current security measures, it's become cliché to say that flying is "a privilege, not a right." That misses the mark, I think.

Traveling by air isn't a privilege -- it's a choice.

When we choose to fly we accept the inconvenience of security checkpoints and, if it's our unlucky day, the embarrassment of a full-body scan or a pat-down. We live in a dangerous and uncertain world. Air-travel security is not a violation of our liberties.

Touch my junk, please.

I understand that none of that explains why I choose not to fly.

It's not because I believe that air travel somehow should be made completely safe. The Transportation Security Administration, along with private-sector screeners employed at 16 U.S. airports, overall are doing a thankless job as well as they can under the circumstances.

I can accept (and until now have accepted) a certain degree of risk. That risk is about to rise to a level which I'm unwilling to assume.

Next Wednesday, arguably among the year's busiest at U.S. airports, is
National Opt-Out Day:
"It's the day ordinary citizens stand up for their rights, stand up for liberty, and protest the federal government's desire to virtually strip us naked or submit to an 'enhanced pat down' that touches people's breasts and genitals in an aggressive manner. You should never have to explain to your children, 'Remember that no stranger can touch or see your private area, unless it's a government employee, then it's OK.'"
"You have the right to opt-out of the naked body scanner machines.... All you have to do is say 'I opt out' when they tell you to go through one of the machines. You will then be given an 'enhanced' pat down."
"The government should not have the ability to virtually strip search anyone it wants without cause. The problem has been compounded in that if you do not want to go through the body scanner, the TSA has made the alternative perhaps even worse by instituting 'enhanced' pat downs. ... We do not believe the government has a right to see you naked or aggressively touch you just because you bought an airline ticket."
Yes, it's silly. In spite of that -- or perhaps because of it -- Rep. Ron Paul (natch) has introduced the American Traveler Dignity Act:
"Mr. Speaker, today I introduce legislation to protect Americans from physical and emotional abuse by federal [TSA] employees conducting screenings at the nation’s airports. ...I hope we can pass this legislation and protect Americans from harm and humiliation when they choose to travel."
I predict that in a society infected by political correctness and misguided anti-government sentiment, protests against invasive security measures ultimately will succeed. Even if Paul's or similarly inane legislation fails, TSA reflexively will dial back its screenings and searches -- count on it.

In a perversion of liberty, sensibilities will triumph over security. The risk of traveling by air will increase.

Somewhere -- probably within our own borders -- the terrorists are laughing at us.

I didn't even know I was being followed

Horace Kephart caught up with me today.
"The success of outdoor cookery depends largely on how a fire is built and how it is managed. A camper is known by his fire. It is quite impossible to prepare a good meal over a higgledy-piggledy heap of smoking chunks, a fierce blaze, or a great bed of coals that will warp iron and melt everything else."
Those words were published a hundred years ago, excerpting Kephart's Camp Cookery in the August 1910 issue of The Outing.

Fire is fire. It doesn't observe leaps in technology or whims of rhetoric. Elemental and constant, fire is fire.

Kephart's guidance reflects the savvy of a woodsman and the thoroughness of a librarian. He devotes much of this century-old primer to the selection of fuel -- how different woods split and how they burn, how to gather them and the coals they yield.

His simple wisdom is as valuable today as it was then.

Firemaking is the most important woodcraft skill. Beyond cooking and comfort, knowing how to build a fire quickly can be a lifesaver. Each of us should learn firemaking and practice it often, especially under less-than-perfect conditions -- cold, wet, windy and when fuel is scarce.

For those who haven't yet graduated from "a higgledy-piggledy heap of smoking chunks," that 1910 article wouldn't be a bad place to start.

(Many volumes of The Outing, along with the classic Forest & Stream, have been preserved on Google books. To go directly to "How to Build a Camp Fire" by Horace Kephart, click

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sharps: Just one more

I know I've written about pocketknives a couple of times already over the last month -- a moose and a trapper, as well as a pair of Scout knives. If you'll permit me another...

I've been carrying this slipjoint, a Tidioute #25 Barlow by
Great Eastern Cutlery, quite a bit lately. It's a "baby Barlow," just three inches long when closed, the kind of knife that easily bridges the gap between everyday utility and dressier affairs.

The #25's spear-pattern main blade and smaller clip are of 1095 carbon steel. The knife has great fit and finish, with nickel-silver bolsters, brass liners (three) and brass pins. Its scales are what GEC calls "Tractor Green Jigged Bone."

After really putting the spurs to this knife, I judge it very stout for its size -- no wiggle, no wobble, strong snap. Edge-holding is good, too, and I've begun the process of convexing the larger blade, leaving the clip with its original bevel.

(Incidentally, I had a chance to handle a number of GECs earlier this year. This is the only one I bought, however, because it's the only one with backsprings that weren't absurdly stiff. Reportedly that's the way Great Easterns are because that's the way Great Eastern collectors like them. I'm a user, not a collector, and for me there's no good reason for a slipjoint pocketknife to be a "nailbreaker.")

Suggested retail for the Tidioute #25 Barlow is just shy of $130, with a street price around $70. That's dear, especially considering alternatives from makers like Canal Street, Case and others.

That's not to imply that this isn't a great little knife or that it's not worth the price. I'm simply saying that it's not the only high-quality, American-made option -- buyer's choice.

Urban Resources: Fertilizer, Part II

I'll readily admit that, in some ways, this series on "urban resources" is a collection of pretty obvious stuff. I mean, who actually thinks about leaf clippings?

I do, apparently. And I continue to be amazed at how often we discard something in the morning and then run to the store in the afternoon to spend money on a commercial product that fills the same need.

Yes, there is such a thing as garbage. Some stuff does need to be hauled away -- just not nearly as much as current custom dictates.

Case in point: our reliance on the ubiquitous
InSinkErator. In virtually all modern American homes, everything from apple cores to zucchini peels gets shoveled into the sink, ground up and flushed down the sewer. Later we drive our BelchFire Eight down to Lowe's and swap hard-earned cash for a case of Miracle-Gro. It's such a waste.

The KintlaLake household never has had a garbage disposal. We gather all of our leftover vegetable matter (no animal fats) and walk it out back to compost.

At our previous rural-suburban home, our compost pile was contained by welded-wire fencing and a half-dozen wooden stakes. This time around we invested $50 in a 115-gallon pre-fab compost bin -- a smartly designed plastic box fitted with a hinged lid that keeps hungry critters out. It also features access doors at the base for harvesting the finished compost.

Beyond onion heels, corn husks and such, we compost things like coffee grounds and egg shells (rinsed), as well as dead jack-o-lanterns and the odd bag of lawn clippings, a wheelbarrow load of shrub prunings here and a bucket of rotting crabapples there. We don't get too terribly scientific about it.

We do add water and pitchfork the mix regularly to aerate it and speed decomposition, spiking it occasionally with a scoop or two of pelletized lime. That's about it.

Next April, once I've worked the layer of
organic matter (which itself is passive compost) into our garden plot, I'll extract the finished compost from the bottom of our bin, scatter it over the soil and make another pass with our electric tiller. I'll reserve some of the "black gold" for setting shrubs and potting plants.

The rich, earthy fragrance of this natural fertilizer -- the product of harvesting what most people throw away -- heralds the bounty to come. To my senses, there's nothing like it.

(By the way -- if for some reason you object to the aroma of compost, consider that it smells a helluva lot better than supporting an anti-libertarian corporation like
Scotts Miracle-Gro.)

A truthy 'toon

Here's a YouTube video sent to me by a reader over the weekend, prompted by a recent KintlaLake Blog post about the Fed's so-called "quantitative easing."

If you're tempted to dismiss that as just another anti-capitalist grenade, don't. Wrapped in simple animation, sprinkled with colorful characterizations, are facts beyond credible dispute.

Don't believe me? Eliot Spitzer -- yeah, the guy known as "Client-9" during the prostitution scandal that forced him to resign as Governor of New York but also as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" during his tenure as the state's Attorney General -- had this to say at the top of CNN's
Parker-Spitzer last night:

"...when I first saw this [video] I started laughing so hard, I started -- tears coming out of my eyes. Then I was crying because it's true.

"I mean, think about this, Goldman got TARP money. Goldman got $12.9 billion from that whole AIG mess that was completely insane. Should never have happen[ed]. Goldman was turned into a bank holding company overnight -- never happened before -- so they can make more money. They get money interest-free from the government.

"It's a scam. It's a rip-off. What's going on here?"

"I don't have any problem with [banks] making money, but there is fundamentally a problem with our policy that has given so much money to the banks over the last couple years. It has not brought the economy back to where it should be. The banks are giving themselves huge bonuses out of taxpayer money. It is wrong ethically. It should have been wrong legally. The government didn't know how to negotiate with them, and that is the source of a lot of anger, and a legitimate anger I believe."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: The U.S. economy is fundamentally and perhaps irreparably broken. Federal fiscal policy isn't merely incompetent -- it's corrupt.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sharps: Vaughan Sub-Zero Axe

It's been almost six years since the folks up at Bark River Knife & Tool (now Bark River Knives) gave us their Mini-Axe. Actually a massaged version of the American-made Vaughan SuperSportsman's Sub-Zero Axe, this tiny tool (12 ounces total weight, 11 inches overall length) immediately won praise for its ability to outperform much larger hatchets and 'hawks.

The Bark River Mini Axe hasn't been produced for quite some time. Occasionally they do pop up for sale on eBay or woodcraft forums -- at premium prices, of course -- but as good as the Barkie custom is reputed to be, I'm not willing to spend $125 to $150 to add a pocket axe to my
ready set.

Instead, I decided to roll my own.

The first step was to pick up a Vaughan Sub-Zero ($18) and the tools required to sharpen it correctly -- a pair of Nicholson 8-inch flat files and a file-cleaning brush, a dual-grit oilstone and a couple of 3M sanding sponges (total price $14). I already had a few other items I'd need, namely a Scotch-Brite pad, honing oil and almond oil.

Since I'm not an axe-sharpening wizard, before beginning I consulted The Axe Book offered by Gränsfors Bruks and An Axe to Grind by Bernie Weisgarber. And even though I'd be using only hand tools, I reviewed Mike Stewart's 2005 KnifeForums
post detailing the 25 separate operations that transformed each Vaughan Sub-Zero into a Bark River Mini Axe.

My little Vaughan arrived in pretty rough shape, its head encased in a thick coat of clear polyurethane and its edge absolutely dull. (I don't mean not sharp -- I mean blunt.) Its hickory handle, while relatively straight-grained, was rough in spots and included a bit of heartwood toward the foot. The head had been hung crooked, too.

I laid out my tools and got to work on the edge, first with a double-cut file and then with a single-cut. Next came the oiled stone, coarse side followed by fine, the sanding sponges and a leather hone loaded with black stropping compound. I sanded most of the poly coating from the face and removed all of it from the poll. The latter was left shiny, the former with more of a satiny finish.

The sanding sponges and Scotch-Brite pad made short work of the handle, which got three rubdowns with almond oil.

A quick trip to the woodpile confirmed the Vaughan's utility as well as exposing its limits. It split three-inch seasoned ash into kindling fairly easily and, when called upon to chop a notch in a length of dry oak, it threw respectable (albeit not award-winning) chips.

The new convex edge is keen enough to be useful but (because of the head's geometry) it's still too thick and steep to be spectacular. Sooner or later I'll have to break out my files again and fix that. Also, the yawed head will hamper ultimate performance but it doesn't yet justify my buying a new handle and re-hanging it. Likewise, the supplied vinyl sheath is cheap but adequate.

See, I have no illusions about the Vaughan Sub-Zero -- even properly sharpened, it remains a very small $18 axe. I don't expect to build a cabin with it, nor did I set out to replicate the Bark River Mini-Axe. For its price and used within its limits, I have a handy woods tool.

The best part of this exercise, though, was choosing to forgo an expensive off-the-shelf solution in favor of developing my skills. And that, with apologies to MasterCard, is priceless.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A name on The Wall

Our local American Legion post has had the honor of hosting The Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall during the week of Veterans Day 2010. Over the last several days it's been touching to see the throngs lining up to pay respects to the 58,195 Americans who lost their lives in that awful war.

The younger spawn and I drove over to see the 3/5-scale memorial yesterday afternoon. Just as I do when visiting the
Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., on this Veterans Day I sought out one name in particular.

Wilma and my mother grew up across the street from one another in southeastern Ohio. They stayed in touch through the years and our families often visited each other during my own childhood. Wilma's elder son, Tom, turned out to be the kid that every mother dreams of -- a good student, an Eagle Scout, the straightest of straight arrows.

The much-older Tom became something of an uncle to me. I was especially fascinated with his love of (and excellence in) Scouting, joining Cub Scouts about the time that he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

Late in the summer of 1966, Tom began a tour in Southeast Asia. While operating near Phouc Vinh on 6 November, the platoon he led was pinned down by enemy fire. Seeing that his machine gunner was wounded, Tom advanced to tend to the soldier. He then reloaded the machine gun, picked it up and charged toward the enemy, laying down suppressing fire that allowed his platoon to withdraw and redeploy.

Tom fell mortally wounded just short of the enemy position. For his gallantry, 1st Lt. Thomas Ralph Murphy posthumously was awarded the Silver Star.

He was 24 years old and I, at the age of 9, suddenly had much more to look up to.

A couple of years after Tom's death, Wilma summoned me to her home. Reminders of her son, from sports trophies to the flag that draped his coffin, surrounded us in the sitting room. She gestured to several shoe boxes on the floor at her feet.

"I want you to have these," she said, her voice choked with emotion. "Tom would want you to have these."

Holding my breath, I lifted the lid from the box closest to me. Inside that and the other packages were hundreds of mementos of Tom's years in Scouting -- neckerchiefs and slides, hats and patches and pins and more. I was as stunned as I was honored.

From that moment and until my Scouting days were done, when donning my olive-green Boy Scout uniform I made a practice of wearing at least one item that had been Tom's -- as long as I'd earned it myself, of course. It was my tribute to his memory, his example.

I surely felt his presence, perhaps even his approval, the day that my Scoutmaster pinned an Eagle Scout medal to my chest.

As I stood before panel 12E yesterday afternoon, tears welled in my aging eyes. I reached out with my right hand, touched the name at the end of line 34 and whispered my thanks.

My left hand was in my pocket, clutching Tom's Boy Scout knife.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sharps: By any other name

I've been hunting moose lately.

I had a pretty good idea of what I was looking for -- an American-made slipjoint pocketknife of substantial size, two opposing full-length blades, one a clip and one a spear or a spey. Since I didn't want to break the bank, a used example in good shape would be fine.

Thing is, I found a wide range of opinions about what, precisely, defines a moose. What some call a moose, others consider a Texas jack, a big muskrat, a bullhead or a double-ended trapper. There's no clear consensus about blade shapes or frame pattern, either, and manufacturers' trade names only muddy the waters.

I decided to cast nomenclature aside and focus on what appeals to me. This is what I ended up with.

It's a Remington-branded "commemorative," a double-ended jackknife reportedly made by Camillus in 2004. The stock number on the box is #18311 and, according to the enclosed "Certificate of Authenticity," the blades are 0170-6C carbon steel.

The main blade, which bears the then-new "MADISON NC USA" tang stamp, is a slender California clip. The other blade is, to my eyes, a slightly asymmetrical spear point -- or maybe it's a mild drop point, but it's definitely not a spey. Each blade has its own backspring.

The liners are brass and the pins (there are four) appear to be stainless steel. Camillus used nickel silver for the bolsters and shield. When closed, the knife measures 4.25" long.

Ok, so that's what it is. Now I'll move on to what it's not.

It's not a reproduction of a classic like the #R4353 Woodsman, #R4353B Maverick, #R4356 Bush Pilot or other Remington variant of the moose. It has no stampings to indicate year or pattern. And despite sporting a shield in the shape of a rifle cartridge, it's not (especially in the minds of collectors) a true Remington Bullet Knife.

What I have -- bought for pocket change, by the way -- is exactly what I wanted. The springs are strong but not brutal, the pivots solid. The blades are sharp and of useful size and shape. Although six years old it's never been used, honed or carried.

Of comparable importance, at least to me, it was crafted by a venerable American knifemaker just three years before bankruptcy took the company down for good.

Whether or not it's a moose, then, is beside the point.

It'll serve me well as part of a "
ready set." More about that soon.

Sharps: Full circle
Sometimes it takes me a while to fulfill a wish and even longer to turn it into words and pictures. Here's what I said back in March of 2009:

"I still have a Schrade Uncle Henry 285UH trapper, also made in Ellenville albeit some years ago. ...I think it'd be fitting if I gave the old Schrade some company from Ulster County, New York -- say, a Canal Street Moon Pie Trapper. ...the purchase would complete a full circle..."
Early this year, from the same upstate-New York workspace that produced my Schrade, the knife I'd wished for was in my hands.

Sentiment aside, I must say that the
Canal Street Cutlery Moon Pie Trapper is the finest-quality pocketknife I've ever owned.

I'm fortunate to have acquired another of Canal Street's slipjoints, a
Three-Blade Cannitler, and it shows the same craftsmanship present in the trapper. Seriously, these are custom-grade knives at relatively affordable prices. In my opinion, it gets no better than Canal Street.

You may consider that a recommendation. Here endeth the (long-overdue) update.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mikey can't read

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is filthy rich. He's also an arrogant son of a bitch who treats the U.S. Constitution like a menu, and for whom patriotism is little more than a hat he wears only for certain public appearances.

During a recent tour of China, Bloomberg said this:
"I think in America, we've got to stop blaming the Chinese and blaming everybody else and take a look at ourselves."
That's probably true -- oversimplified, perhaps, but essentially true.

Asked if using Chinese technology to promote green energy in the U.S. was politically objectionable, Bloomberg responded:
"Let me get this straight: There's a country on the other side of the world that is taking their taxpayers' dollars, and trying to sell subsidized things so we can buy them cheaper, and have better products, and we're going to criticize that?"
It may come as a surprise to hizzoner, but yes, actually we are going to criticize that. Bloomberg's dispassionate, bucks-first attitude no doubt pleases his Wall Street cronies. We, on the other hand, are looking for leaders who focus on rebuilding America's economy first instead of making apologies for China.

This last quote is maddening enough to cause me to invoke a word I seldom use -- elitist:
"If you look at the U.S., you look at who we're electing to Congress, to the Senate -- they can't read. I'll bet you a bunch of these people don't have passports. We're about to start a trade war with China if we're not careful here only because nobody knows where China is. Nobody knows what China is."
Last I checked, a passport isn't required for public service, nor does the one in Bloomberg's pocket make him an expert in foreign affairs. But never mind that -- what I find ironic is his allusion to illiteracy.

I mean, "they can't read" is coming from a guy who hasn't shown that he's literate enough to comprehend this:

"...the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Bloomberg's a busy guy, I know, so maybe some flack in the mayor's office could issue a statement explaining just what part of "shall not be infringed" he doesn't understand.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What of independence?

Conservative pundit Dennis Prager's most recent column is "Why I Now Vote Party, not Individual." This is his premise:
"For better or for worse, the notion of voting for the candidate rather than the party is now mostly naive idealism. The Democratic Party is now fully left-wing, and is simply the American version of any European Social Democratic party. It is the party of ever-expanding government. (The Republican Party, in contrast, is -- at long last -- the party of small government.)"
I thought Prager was smarter than that, but there it is -- an unapologetic indictment of independence, wrapped in a simple-minded endorsement of partisanship. (I think he's jumping the gun a wee bit, by the way, in proclaiming the GOP's restraint. As far as I know, the jury's still out on that.)

Prager then shows us that he's completely lost his mind:
"This country would be in considerably better shape if [former Alaska Gov. Sarah] Palin were either vice president or president."
He goes on cite a half-dozen instances in which Caribou Barbie would've made this decision or solved that crisis differently than the current president. Each of Prager's cases pivots on some right-wing chestnut, of course, which explains why he didn't say anything about Palin's demonstrated incapacity (beyond talking points and purely ideological matters) to understand remotely why she'd do what he believes she'd do.

He sums up his confession this way:

"So, it is time for us Americans to realize that the old days of choosing the better candidate are gone. ... We will have to vote by party.

"That's the bad news. The good news is that in almost no case is the choice between a more impressive Democrat and a less impressive Republican. The quality of most Republican candidates this election is the highest in post-war American history, Republican or Democrat. But even if it weren't, a Republican mediocrity would get my vote. My first concern is America's greatness, not the candidate's."

Prager is committed to two-party mediocrity, a mindless allegiance to the status quo that'll sink our nation -- but there is hope.

Today I was heartened by the findings of a
Rasmussen survey of 1,000 likely Republican primary voters. Presented with four possible GOP nominees for president in 2012 -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Mayor of Wasilla Sarah Palin -- a significant percentage of respondents told Rasmussen that they'd consider a third-party candidate.

Now that's more like it.

According to Rasmussen, 24% of those surveyed said that they'd be at least somewhat likely to consider supporting a third-party candidate if Huckabee is the GOP nominee for president. For Gingrich the number was 27%, for Romney 28%.

Palin -- drum roll, please -- would inspire 31% of Republican voters to look for an alternative.

I'm not taking those numbers to the bank -- not two years out from the next presidential election, certainly, and not without a specific third-party candidate to consider. Still, it's encouraging.

Maybe independence has a chance after all.

Urban Resources: Fertilizer, Part I

In a previous installment of Urban Resources, I talked about a source of free firewood for our backyard pit. This time I'll make good on a promise to explain how we handle another of gravity's gifts.

Most of our neighbors herd their fallen leaves toward the curb for pickup by the village. What they treat as trash, however, we convert into natural fertilizer.

Moving from disposal to harvest is a bit time-consuming but not at all difficult. We're fortunate to live where our lawn-care routine isn't governed by a homeowner's association, so we can do pretty much what we want.

Yesterday morning, for example, I used an electric blower to create an enormous leafpile in the middle of the front lawn. Snapping a vacuum snout onto the blower, I hoovered the pile into the bagger attachment and deposited the processed leaves into a wheeled cart, hauling five loads back to our garden plot.

Ninety minutes later the pile was gone and the garden sat two feet deep in fluffy fertilizer-to-be. I added some to our compost bin, too, just for good measure.

(I'm always amazed, by the way, at how effective a blower-vac is at condensing a mountain of litter. Yesterday, because it's been fairly dry here lately and the leaves crumbled easily, my Black & Decker reduced the volume of the pile by about 80%, maybe more.)

Meanwhile, the younger spawn piloted our walk-behind mower, mulching a thick layer of oak and catalpa leaves into the lawn out back. When he finished, the leaves had all but vanished, propelled down to soil level where they'll do the most good.

The key to taking full organic advantage of fallen leaves is reducing them to small pieces, postage stamp-sized flakes that'll decompose easily over the damp winter months. Whole leaves take much longer to break down -- simply heaping them onto the garden or letting them sit on the lawn is equivalent to deploying a water-repellent tarp.

One more pass with the mower-mulcher, probably after Thanksgiving, should do it for this season. Come springtime we'll till the rich organic matter into the garden and mow a healthier lawn -- and, other than a cup of gasoline for the mower and the juice to run the blower, it didn't cost us a penny.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Got ink?

The Federal Reserve told us late Wednesday that it'll be injecting $600 billion into the U.S. economy over the next eight months, buying $75 billion in government bonds each month.

The technical term for the move is quantitative easing. You and I may call it what it is -- printing money.

This isn't the first time we've seen quantitative easing recently. The Fed has shoveled trillions of dollars into the system since 2007, and it's worked -- if, that is, your definition of "worked" is successfully propping-up failing banks and corporations caught short of liquid assets.

The tactic hasn't, however, spurred economic growth, encouraged hiring or jump-started lending on any level. The Fed has no more buttons to push and now, according to most of the analyses I've seen, it's using quantitative easing to accomplish something that the device can't possibly do.

That's not to say that it won't have an effect.

Because U.S. production of goods and services (the gross domestic product, or GDP) has virtually no prospects for sustainable growth, this round of quantitative easing likely will accelerate the U.S. dollar's fall (or push it to collapse). High inflation -- or even hyperinflation -- will take hold quickly, stunningly so, perhaps overnight.

The stock market likely will soar and, for those fortunate enough to be employed, wages will rise. It'll be a false windfall, however, consumed (and then some) by taxes and higher prices.

Folks who bought gold as a hedge or a shelter...well, good luck with that. The Fed may be able to create money out of thin air and "expand its balance sheet" but individuals are incapable of such financial alchemy. Value is set by the marketplace, by buyers. If there are no buyers, an asset is (in practical terms) worthless.

Americans who actually believed that the TARP and stimulus would save our economy should realize by now that they won't. And anyone celebrating Tuesday's victory by Republicans should wake up and smell the coffee, too -- fiscal conservatives' trickle-around schemes won't get the job done. They never have.

The U.S. economy is fundamentally and perhaps irreparably broken. Every single solution thrown at the problem, whether by the Fed or by our elected representatives, has been little more than political window-dressing designed to persuade us that fixing things would be relatively painless.

The quantitative easing announced this week may be the death rattle of our economy. There's no reason to panic now -- not at this late hour, anyway -- but we'd better get clear about what we need to do.

What resources we have we should conserve. Decisions we make should be grounded in reason, not emotion, and actions we take should be efficient, not excessive. What we buy should prepare us for the squeeze that's coming.

And it is coming, by the way. Now we know that it's coming sooner rather than later.

You might be a nutjob...

"Well, I think we know that, just within a day or so, the president of the United States will be taking a trip over to India that is expected to cost the taxpayers $200 million a day." (Rep. Michele Bachmann)

"Two hundred million dollars a day this nation will spend on Obama’s trip to India." (Rush Limbaugh)

"Two billion so the president can go to New Delhi. ... We have 34 warships. Have you seen this? ... I'm telling you, there's something wrong with this trip. I never seen -- have you ever seen the president, ever seen the president go over for a vacation where you needed 34 warships?" (Glenn Beck)

"When you're a hammer...sheesh. Does anyone check facts anymore before running their mouth?" (KintlaLake, who urges readers to visit FactCheck and Snopes for decontamination. And remember: The U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, which involves 100,000 troops and incalculable hard assets, costs about $190 million a day.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

When there is no 'aisle'

Bob Barr, the former Republican congressman from Georgia and Libertarian Party nominee for President in 2008, said this in a radio interview last week:
"What I look for in Washington are folks in the Senate and the House who put the Constitution first. Not the 'R' or the 'D,' not partisan politics but the Constitution. And what you have in Russ, and I have worked closely with him over a number of years to try to rein in the Patriot Act, to try to rein in the government surveillance and so forth -- this is a man who understands the Constitution, who supports and fights sometimes against his own party to defend the Constitution in the Congress of the United States in ways that are much more consistent and much more proactive than a lot of Republicans."
At the time, "Russ" was U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, incumbent Democrat from Wisconsin. Now he's a lame duck, losing on Tuesday to a wealthy tea-bagger who'd never before run for public office.

Barr's taken some heat, arguably deserved, for endorsing a candidate who co-sponsored campaign finance reform that's been ruled (in part) unconstitutional and who has a somewhat mixed record on the right to keep and bear arms.

What I hear from Barr is an intelligent conclusion born of critical thought, an endorsement informed by personal experience instead of campaign ads or political advantage.

There's one thing I don't hear, however: courage.

It's not an act of courage for a man to express independence when that's where he comes from. A conservative Southerner's endorsement of a Midwestern liberal -- if you buy the popular pigeonholes -- isn't courageously "reaching across the aisle" if the aisle doesn't exist.

There's much to respect here, and much to learn.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It's hard to overstate how historic this Election Day was for Republicans. Although Democrats kept control of the U.S. Senate, not since 1948 have this many House seats changed parties.

Also, as I write this the GOP has picked up 11 governorships. (A few races haven't yet been called.) Ohio is among those states, sad to say, with John Kasich wresting the office from one-term Democrat
Ted Strickland.

It's quite a feat for a party that appeared to have sentenced itself to the margins two years ago. How'd they do it?

First, let's recognize the standard-bearers of the Republicans' march back toward relevance: Pres. Barack Obama, Sen. Harry Reid and Rep. Nancy Pelosi. The Democratic Party, holding control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, had a rare opportunity to press its advantage -- and instead proceeded to
screw the pooch in breathtaking fashion.

Once in power, the Dems splintered into familiar factions. They didn't accomplish much, and what they did accomplish they couldn't sell (or flat ran away from). Predictably adept at ineptitude, Democrats handed their fortunes to the GOP on a silver platter.

Second, after the presidential election Republicans found themselves ass-deep in lemons. True to the aphorism, they made lemonade -- instead of fleeing the fringe, they embraced it.

The GOP saw that the Tea Party, straying from its libertarian roots, responded reliably to stock-in-trade Republican tactics --
fear and loathing, that is -- and quickly absorbed the once-promising movement. That bought enough votes to swing dozens of races.

Third, Republican candidates did a masterful job of tapping into voters' upset that happy days aren't yet here again, playing the "Obama's failed policies" card at every turn. Such frustration is at once understandable and delusional, and appealing to it worked -- just ask Ted Strickland, whose election-day fate was all but sealed by 12 (count 'em) campaign visits by Pres. Obama.

Two years, especially two years of being sabotaged by one's own party, isn't nearly enough time to resurrect the worst economy in our nation's history -- hell, it's not even long enough to make real progress. The People demand instant solutions, however, and unreasonable impatience helped pave the way for a GOP landslide.

How about those shadowy "outside groups"? Didn't they play a big role?

Sort of. They sure didn't deliver for Democrats, and one has to wonder how influential the well-funded groups' messages would've been if the Dems hadn't convened their circular firing squad.

So there's just cause for Republicans to celebrate this morning but no good reason to flatter themselves. And yes, tea-baggers should be dancing -- carefully, though, lest they trip over something. Between dishonest campaigning and walking through doors unlocked by the opposition, there's isn't much for either to be proud of.

We, the People, got what we asked for -- we threw a lot of bums out. We got our fresh faces. And we got something else: gridlock.

We didn't alter the status quo -- we perpetuated it.

Think about it. The 2010 elections were carried not by skilled and committed public servants but by noisy ideologues. Voters sided with the most strident rhetoric, the most emotional (and least thoughtful) messages, half-truths rather than complete facts.

It disturbs me, for example, that we Buckeyes threw out Attorney General Richard Cordray, a Democrat, in favor of Republican challenger Mike DeWine. Enough conservative voters overlooked Cordray's steadfast defense of the Ohio and U.S. constitutions to elect DeWine -- a reckless enemy of liberty who won simply because he was a non-incumbent Republican.

DeWine, in reality, is politically indistinguishable from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. For freedom-loving Ohioans, his victory comes as a belated Halloween fright.

We can all be glad that at least two "fresh faces" won't be packing for the U.S. Senate. The accidental Alvin Greene was trounced by Jim DeMint in South Carolina, and in Delaware the constitutionally ignorant Christine O'Donnell lost by 20 points to Chris Coons.

Neither of the winners is a prize, particularly -- DeMint is a right-wing nutjob and Coons is preferable only when standing next to O'Donnell. The scarier epilogue to the two races is that comic-book superhero Greene pulled 28% of the vote and I'm-not-a-witch O'Donnell a whopping 40%. It just amazes me (then again, maybe not) that fully two-fifths of Delawareans are either that desperate or that stupid.

(Two fifths -- that's about what I'd have to consume to cast a vote for either of those pretenders.)

Government by the People -- even hoped-for "small government" -- requires actual governing, and yet we keep falling for politicking. How in the hell are we going to get small government from big politics?

Excusing gridlock as some sort of defense against the dreaded "Obama agenda" -- which wasn't going anywhere anyway, really -- is politics, not patriotism.

It cripples our government, insults the People and postpones
The Revolution. Until we figure that out, it threatens to be the downfall of our nation.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


This is the third Election Day recorded here on KintlaLake Blog. In 2008 we drove two miles to the polls, while last year we lived five miles away.

At 6:30am this morning, my wife and I walked out into the pre-dawn chill, past our garage and across the back yard, up the hill and through the door of the community center that serves as our village's polling place.

A hundred paces, give or take, covered the distance from living in liberty to raising a citizen's voice in support of it.

As I stood at my assigned touch-screen voting machine, I thought back to a time when I didn't value this rite of democracy the way I do today. I was a comfortable youth, complacent about my freedom and shamefully dismissive of its price.

Those days, I'm glad to say, are behind me. Now I rise on Election Day with as much joy as I do on the Fourth of July.

I encourage my fellow independent citizen-patriots to join me in celebration -- vote!