Monday, January 31, 2011

Attention spanned

Anti-government protests have been simmering in Egypt for a week now. I'm taking notice, naturally, but I haven't been seduced by an oppressed people's quest for freedom -- it's a waste of energy for us, personally and nationally, to impose American democratic values on other cultures. I won't get sucked into discussing whether the U.S. will be on what Sen. John McCain calls "the right side of history," either.

Foreign policy isn't a zero-sum game. We'll let it all play out and deal with the result. History writes itself.

Fretting about what the unrest will do to our gas prices -- Egypt controls the Suez Canal and the Suez-Med Pipeline -- is likewise futile. They'll do what they'll do. Five bucks might be wishful thinking.

No, what rivets me are the responses of authorities and citizens as Egyptian society breaks down -- protesters driving hated civil-defense forces from the streets, government deploying the military and, most interesting to me, citizens forming private militias to defend their neighborhoods against looters (not to mention the thousand or so prison inmates released by authorities).

I notice, too, how the people are arming themselves -- sticks, clubs and pipes, knives and (reportedly) even Samurai swords. If an Egyptian is lucky enough to have a firearm, it's most likely an antique revolver. Predictably, ammunition is (to put it mildly) scarce.

As common as popular uprisings are in this world, it's rare that we see such events unfold on this scale in a (largely) Westernized nation. It bears watching and, for those of us who cultivate a preparedness mindset, it's instructive as hell.

Speaking of preparedness, here in the American Midwest an entirely different kind of threat has our attention. Meteorologists are tracking a winter whopper that's predicted to have a significant impact on 100,000,000 Americans.

Advisories stretch from the northern Plains to Texas and from New Mexico to Maine. It looks like we're going to get a mix of sleet and snow around here, followed by a half-inch of freezing rain.

I just hate that shit -- I'd rather
shovel two feet of snow.

This morning's send-receive brought my regular e-mail from
The Art of Manliness, a permanent link to which appears in the right-hand column of KintlaLake Blog. Today's subject: "22 Manly Ways to Reuse an Altoids Tin."

After my tin heart, those guys are.
Since writing about a gift-card tin earlier this month, I've found two more minty Altoinatives: Newman's Own Organics and Penguin. Each comes in a package virtually identical to the standard Altoids tin.

Notes: Penguin mints are caffeinated and Newman's mints contain organic sweeteners. Newman's tins are made in England; Penguin gets its tins from China. (The mints are made in Mexico and the U.S., respectively.) Nell Newman, daughter of Paul, uses company profits to support a range of causes.

The graphics on the Newman's tins are a departure from the style favored by Altoids and, in my opinion, quite striking.

Also pictured: a half-ounce Penguin tin, slightly larger than an
Altoids Smalls tin; and a vintage-repro peppermints tin from Cracker Barrel.

A burgeoning revolution, a looming winter storm, a couple of mint tins... yup, I think that about covers it.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A sad sight

When I launched KintlaLake Blog, my family and I lived across from an abandoned farm -- a big frame house and dilapidated outbuildings surrounded by fields and woodland. After dinner my wife and I often retired to our front porch, sat silently and drew peace from the scene.

Today, on an impulse, we drove by
our old place. Glancing over at the farm on the other side of the road, we gasped -- it's gone.

The ground was roughed-up and leveled where
barns used to stand. A bulldozer sat idle on a trailer behind a demolition company truck, parked about where the foundation of the house had been. There was no trace of an enormous oak that once cast its shadows on the lawn.

This forsaken family farm always was, to me, a sad sight. Now it's sadder still, eased a bit by my wife's perspective on the razing.

"It's ok," she said, "That was our place, our landscape. It's ok now."

She's right, of course. For my part, I'm glad that I took the time to capture some purposeful
images of those barns.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Accidents happen

It took me longer than I'd expected to wade through the images from Saturday night's Zachariah's Red-Eye Reunion. I'm not sure why.

I managed to pull and tweak 65 decent photographs, roughly one of every ten frames that I shot. I won't post them all on KintlaLake Blog, of course, but it's a pretty respectable ratio.

A few of the best were unplanned, anything but deliberate, arguably even accidental. Here's an example, previously posted on

(McGuffey Lane)

I grabbed that image as I dashed from one wing to the other while headliner McGuffey Lane paused between songs. Something about the shadows caught my eye, so I turned off the flash, raised the camera to my chest (I didn't take the time to sight through the viewfinder), banged off two shots and moved on. For a what-the-hell photo, the result surprised me.

I love the challenges of concert photography -- moving subjects and rapidly changing lighting, to name just two. I'll close this post with a pair of images illustrating what can happen when the curse of unpredictability becomes a photographic blessing.

(Guest artist Delyn Christian performing "Long-Haired Country Boy")

(Molly Pauken of McGuffey Lane & the Jonalee White band)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Zachariah's Red-Eye Reunion XI

Last night I photographed Zachariah's Red-Eye Reunion 2011, the third time I've had the privilege of shooting this annual concert.

I clicked off 650 frames, give or take, 500 of which I kept. Now comes the task of earnestly previewing the lot, culling the bad and editing the best. Little of that will happen today, though.

The music echoes yet this morning and the afterglow of friendship still warms me, but I'm flat exhausted.

I'll hold my place with these two images. More later, I believe.

(Previous years' Reunions:
Reunion recap, an epilogue; Reunion recap, part two; Reunion recap, part one; Satisfaction; Backstage past; An uncompensated plug)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Maine Hunting Shoe

KintlaLake Blog originates from Ohio, my home for the last ten years and my birthplace, but I spent over two decades in southern New England. My favorite getaway while living there was Maine, where the locals say of the climate,
"We get nine months of winter, followed by three months of damned poor sleddin'."
Maine's challenging winters are long indeed, and the state has the worst "mud season" in the lower 48. (Don't say that to a Vermonter.)

My trips "Down East" always included a stop in the coastal town of Freeport, site of
L.L. Bean. The company traces its origins to 1912, when Leon Leonwood Bean first offered his Maine Hunting Shoe.

A few things in that video stand out to me.

The moccasin-inspired Maine Hunting Shoes -- a.k.a. Bean Boots -- are still made in the USA, still made in Maine. Human hands touch them at each step of manufacturing and assembly. The workers understand history and loyalty as well as quality, taking justifiable pride in their craft.

Most striking, I think, is the revelation that the first run of 100 pairs of Maine Hunting Shoes had a return rate of 90%. Undeterred, Mr. Bean stood behind his product.

Nearly 100 years later the basic design of
The Maine Hunting Shoe hasn't changed. Neither has the guarantee.

Discount outlets are full of cheap Chinese knockoffs, of course. They cost between $15 and $40, generally -- as opposed to $104 to $174 for a pair of genuine Bean Boots -- but the only guarantee they come with is the promise of wet, cold feet.

I bought a pair of real Beans back in the '80s, inadvertently leaving them behind when I moved. (My ex-wife declined repeated requests to forward them. Go figure.) Today I own and love (and recommend) other top-quality American-made boots -- insulated
Red Wings for winter, leather-lined Wescos for summer.

I do miss my old Maine Hunting Shoes, though. One of these days...

(That's a young Leon Leonwood Bean on the left, posing with his hunting buddies. Check out Taylor Stitch's blog post about The Maine Hunting Shoe here.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

'Are you going to keep helping them do it?'

I listened to Rush Limbaugh's radio show yesterday. Surprised?

Because I don't hew to the extremes, Limbaugh neither offends nor validates me ideologically. But like all talk-radio windbags, whether they blare from the right or the left, he insults critical thought.

I swear, the guy must employ a staff devoted exclusively to creating "triggers" -- Hussein, Democrat Party, drive-by media and the like, terms guaranteed to get his mindless listeners convulsing like neo-con clones of
Maynard G. Krebs. Yesterday's buzz-word, repeated no fewer than two dozen times during a dissociative rant about visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao, was ChiCom.

I'm not going to dignify it with a definition. You figure it out.

Since the Tucson shooting there's been lots of chatter about the increasingly negative tone of American politics. columnist Gene Lyons has an interesting theory about that:
"Ever since Rush Limbaugh adapted the techniques of drive-time sports radio to politics -- the loudmouth hyperbole, the fake omniscience, the mute button -- the mass-marketing of outrage to people stuck in freeway traffic with blood-pressure levels already approaching the blowout range has coarsened public discourse to the level of road rage."
As an example, Lyons points to something that Limbaugh said last week. This unfiltered bullshit comes directly from Limbaugh's site:

"What [the Tucson shooter] knows is that he has the full support of a major political party in this country. ... He knows that a Democrat Party, the Democrat Party, is attempting to find anybody but him to blame. He knows if he plays his cards right, he's just a victim."

"That smiling mug shot, this guy...understands he's got a political party doing everything it can -- plus a local sheriff -- doing everything that they can to make sure he's not convicted of murder but something lesser."

Lyons observes, quite correctly,
"If you believe that, you'll believe anything."
No thinking person would. The column concludes:

"Meanwhile, the Tucson radio station that advertised 'Rush Limbaugh: Straight Shooter' with a billboard full of simulated bullet holes has taken it down.

"See, they compete with each other, these clowns, to set you against an imaginary enemy consisting of your friends and neighbors because conflict pushes ratings, and higher ratings lead to more money.

"Are you going to keep helping them do it?"

Not me. How about you?

* * *
Gene Lyons also tipped me off to another post-Tucson gem. Mark Shields attributed this observation to his friend Allen Ginsberg:

"This week, we saw a white, Catholic, Republican federal judge murdered on his way to greet a Democratic woman, member of Congress, who was his friend and was Jewish. Her life was saved initially by a 20-year-old Mexican-American college student, who saved her, and eventually by a Korean-American combat surgeon.

"And then it was all eulogized and explained by our African-American president. And, in a tragic event, that's a remarkable statement about the country."

I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Camden epilogue: Poetic irony

American poet Walt Whitman lived out his last years on Mickle Street in Camden, New Jersey. He died there in 1892 and was laid to rest in Harleigh Cemetery, where the graveside eulogy was delivered by the orator Robert Green Ingersoll:
"He never lost his hope. When the mists filled the valleys, he looked upon the mountain tops, and when the mountains in darkness disappeared, he fixed his gaze upon the stars."
Whitman spent much of his twilight revising and re-issuing Leaves of Grass -- "33 y'rs of hacking at it," the poet would say on releasing the final edition in 1891. Note
66 in the landmark collection begins,
"I DREAM’D in a dream, I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth"
When Camden dedicated its new city hall in 1931, chiseled into the granite of the massive neo-classic structure was this paraphrase of Whitman's words:
In the harsh light of current events the irony glares back at us, inescapable, wrenching.

Then again, looking past the facade we learn that the building's cornerstone was laid in 1929. It opened its doors two years later, just as our nation began to claw its way out of The Great Depression.

Through the middle of the 20th Century, a vigorous blue-collar Camden gave Americans
radios, nuclear-powered ships and soup. But like Akron and Detroit, Massillon and Youngstown and countless other cities staked to manufacturing, the city flickered and dimmed.

Camden's city hall stands today either as a monument to an ironic inscription or as a reminder of optimism in the face of economic ruin. I struggle to see it as the latter.

I wonder -- am I simply confronting reality? Or do I lack the spirit of my grandfathers?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Worst case

Imagine living in a city of 80,000 in the northeastern United States. Per-capita income is 10% below the poverty level, less than half what the average American makes and one-third of your state's average.

Hard economic times have devastated households, ravaged neighborhoods and drained your municipal budget. (Never mind that three of your last seven mayors have done prison time for corruption.) Your city, if it's to survive, has to cut 25% of its employees -- including a third of the fire department and half the police force.

Oh, by the way -- you live in "The Most Dangerous City in America." FBI statistics show violent crime occurring at more than five times the national rate, and now you're down 70 firefighters and 170 cops.

Unfortunately, there's no need to imagine such a worst-case scenario. Because unless unions representing city workers make some drastic 11th-hour concessions, that bad dream will become reality today in Camden, New Jersey USA.

Think it couldn't be worse? Think again.

For Camden's law-abiding residents, folks with good reason to be prepared to defend themselves, here's another nightmare: Brady ranks New Jersey's gun laws second-toughest in the nation.

(The People's Republic of California, of course, tops Brady's latest list. I'm glad to say that Ohio scores only 11 out of a possible 100 points, earning a one-star rating. The state of Arizona, it's worth noting, scores a near-perfect two points and zero stars.)

This city's crisis represents not failed government but a failure of the People. The citizens of Camden and New Jersey voted affinity over competence, for entitlements, in favor of nanny-knows-best public safety. Now that the money's run out, Camden has the government it asked for -- the government it deserves.

It's what happens when independence withers; when We, the People abdicate the duties of our citizenship.

It's safe to assume that Camden is only the most recent example. There will be more.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1 + (33 x 2) ≤ 10

When 20 people were gunned down in Tucson a week ago today, the deranged shooter reportedly was armed with a Glock 19 and two 33-round magazines.

The semi-auto G19's standard-issue mag holds 15 rounds. The extended 33-rounder was developed for the ravenous G18, which is full-auto, but it works just fine with any of Glock's 9mm pistols -- full-size G17, compact G19, even the sub-compact G26.

I can attest that firing a
G19 with 33 rounds on tap is a bona fide giggle when ringing gongs gleefully at the range. The weight of 18 extra rounds destroys the heft of an otherwise well-balanced pistol, however, so the jumbo mag is useless to me for serious practice.

It's not exactly concealable, either.

I've already offered my opinion that the Tucson shooting likely will embolden forces bent on disarming all American citizens. Off the bat it looks like they'll call for a ban on so-called high-capacity magazines.

A number of states already limit magazine capacity. Maryland sets the legal maximum at 20 rounds, New Jersey at 15. Four nanny states -- California, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York -- and the District of Columbia ban any magazine holding more than ten rounds.

And now one murderous nutjob with a pair of 33-round mags may well provide the political impetus for a federal 10-round limit -- that's the disturbing equation. Depending on how strong the wind blows to the left, law-abiding citizens could be placed at an immediate defensive disadvantage, because no law will keep deadly weapons (or high-capacity magazines) out of determined criminals' hands.

As an American, I have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms. More important -- and yes, there's something more important than the Constitution -- I have a human right to defend myself. Despite the Supreme Court leaving the statutory door open for "
reasonable restrictions," that is the more powerful political argument against putting citizens at the mercy of better-armed violent offenders.

Any suggestion that I must rely on law enforcement to defend me, by the way, will be met with one or both of these truisms:

"When seconds count, help is only minutes away."

"I carry a gun because it's easier than carrying a cop."

Prudent gun owners today are taking inventory, just to confirm that they have all the magazines they need. (We can predict that those bought pre-ban would be "grandfathered.") Online firearms-supply retailers know this, of course -- I've already received a handful of e-mail flyers pushing high-capacity mags.

Now that's my kind of post-Tucson opportunism. (And
this isn't.)

DPMS Panther Arms reminded me about their typically reasonable prices on Magpul and GI-type mags for the M4/M16/AR-15. Surefire wanted me to know that the 60- and 100-round magazines they've developed for the same platform are "coming soon." (Even if you're not inclined to drop $139-$179 on one of these beauties, the demo video is worth watching.) Natchez Shooters Supplies has good deals on Glock mags, although they seem to have sold out of 33-rounders.


That's ok -- they're not my thing anyway. I'm happy rolling with 15+1, but my government should stay the hell out of the business of telling me that I can't own one (or more than one).

Friday, January 14, 2011

New tin on the block

Finding uses for empty Altoids tins has become, for some people, an obsession. I'll admit to having a mild case of tin-tin-adulation myself, having mentioned the subject a few times here on KintlaLake Blog.

They beg to be recycled (or, as a jargonista would say, re-purposed). Lots of other products come to us in similarly useful containers, too -- take this sturdy hinged tin, which originally held a gift card presented to me last Christmas.

The slimmer gift-card tin is a comfortable fit for a hip, jacket or cargo pocket. While it's not as deep as an Altoids tin, it has a larger footprint and greater interior volume -- roughly 20% more space for tinder, first-aid supplies, snare wire, a fishing kit or other survival bits. It has enough headroom to swallow a 3/8-inch firesteel and enough length to accommodate a decent single-blade pocketknife (the 108mm
Victorinox Safari Solo Adventurer, for example).

Sure, for less than three bucks it's possible to buy this (or another) gift-card tin, minus the gift card. But as I said about
Ranger Bands, spending real money defeats the purpose -- sorry, the re-purpose.

The venerable Altoids tin will continue its reign, of course. Other minty tins worth recycling: the Altoids Chewing Gum tin, slightly more than half the size of the standard Altoids tin; and the Altoids Smalls tin, which a year ago inspired me to build an ultra-compact fire kit.

Let the tinnovations roll on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Urban Resources: 'The Pace'

Here in the KintlaLake household, our arsenal of tools includes three snow shovels -- we have no snowblower and, unlike two years ago, we no longer own a tractor equipped with a dozer blade. One of our neighbors has a snow-plowing business, so occasionally (today, for instance) we'll have him give our driveway a quick scrape. For the most part, though, we move the white stuff by hand.

The ordinary task of shoveling snow, believe it or not, offers a great opportunity to practice an important survival skill: getting the job done without breaking a sweat. I call it "The Pace."

In a cold-weather survival situation, whether lost in the backcountry or stuck by the roadside in the middle of a blizzard, physical exertion may be necessary -- in those two examples, perhaps that means building a shelter or clearing snow from around a tailpipe. Whatever the reason, it's crucial to conserve physical energy and warmth.

Even if a person is dressed properly, excessive sweating will saturate a base
layer, quickly crippling its vital wicking function -- and there's no way to dry it out. It's an E-ticket ride to hypothermia.

The trick, then, is to work at something less than full capacity. Some survivalists put a number on that level of exertion -- I've heard 40%, 50% and 60% -- but since conditions vary and each of us is different, self-awareness is the only realistic way to gauge The Pace.

While shoveling our driveway and sidewalks the last few mornings, I paid special attention to setting a no-sweat pace -- a useful exercise but not as easy as it sounds. When I noticed myself sweating I slowed down, took a break, vented or shed an outer layer.

Other wintertime chores and activities provide myriad ways to experiment with The Pace -- buck and split firewood, go sledding, take a hike and so on.

Simple? Sure, but this "urban resource" is far from trivial.
Practicing a few basic skills outside of a survival situation just might make a difference when it counts.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

More thoughts on Tucson

Several days removed from Saturday's events in Tucson, I'll offer a few opinions and observations.

First, the shooter bears the blame for his crimes, period. Whatever his defects, whatever his influences, he alone is accountable.

Second, there's no justification and no defense for the shooting. Anyone who crosses the line between explanation of murderous acts and apology for the murderer casts doubt on both their sanity and their humanity.

Likewise, the fusillade of accusations and counter-accusations flying back and forth across the ideological divide is absolutely baseless. Oh, there's no question that the likes of
Bill Maher and Caribou Barbie (to name just two) exercise their First Amendment rights with few facts and breathtakingly poor judgment -- as Robert Green Ingersoll said of revival ministers,
"They did not know much, but they believed a great deal."
Blaming homicide on the Tea Party or guns for schizoid paranoia, however, is shameful political opportunism.

(Incidentally, a spokeswoman for the former Mayor of Wasilla claimed yesterday that those
crosshairs over Rep. Gabrielle Giffords's district were, in fact, "a surveyor's symbol." The Queen of Denali didn't cause the deaths in Tucson, of course, but c'mon now -- does anyone with a lick of common sense actually believe that bullshit?)

To reinforce a point that I made on
Sunday, our constitutional rights carry consequences. And again, it's not about assigning blame -- it's about taking responsibility. Suppose you tuned to your favorite AM frequency today and heard this:

"This radio program is entertainment, people, not gospel. These are opinions -- my opinions. If you agree, great; if you disagree, that's your prerogative.

"Sadly, some of you out there aren't playing with a full deck. You have a small brain and no life, you're a hammer in search of nails, and you take my hyperbole way too seriously. You'll twist my words into a call to violence -- I know that. It's a consequence of exercising my free-speech rights, but I won't be silenced just because some of you are as dumb as stumps."

That'd be refreshing, now, wouldn't it? I'm not holding my breath.

Today's political wind carries the foul odor of repressive legislation, typically ill-conceived laws that could impose limits on speech and disarm law-abiding citizens. Fact is, if laws could prevent violent crime, the tragedy in Tucson never would've happened.

Here's another fact (or, to be accurate, a prediction): Gabby Giffords will become the next Jim Brady. Take that to the bank.

Finally, the
Westboro Baptist Church plans to picket the funeral of the nine-year-old girl who was murdered in Tucson. Granted, the First Amendment gives me the right to express my less-than-fond wishes for God's Assholes. For the moment, I'll exercise judgment instead.

Video tutorial: Fire by friction

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Facing consequences

I don't want to write about yesterday's mass shooting in Tucson, Arizona. I don't even want to think about it, really, but here I am, painfully aware of its significance.

We don't yet have all of the facts, but it appears that the shooter -- whose infamy I refuse to amplify by invoking his name -- may have been motivated by twisted political ideology that found fertile soil in a sick mind. He intended, presumably, to strike a blow for revolution.

He put his gun to the head of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and pulled the trigger. He assassinated federal Judge John Roll. He murdered a 30-year-old congressional aide, a 76-year-old pastor, two women in their 70s and a little girl who drew her first breath on September 11, 2001.

That's not revolutionary -- it's manifest evil.

In this political climate, and knowing the current balance of power, we can expect reflexive assaults on the First and Second Amendments. The misguided and politically correct will seek to constrain free expression (to muzzle conservative talk radio, that is) and further restrict our right to keep and bear arms.

That much we know. As defenders of Liberty, our response should be clear: Freedom has consequences.

The Constitution guarantees rights, not safety. We must remind our representatives that part of the price of freedom is allowing evil to exist, to speak and, sometimes in horrific fashion, to act.

To trade our liberties for safety, or even for the facade of comity, would be a far greater evil.

At the same time, as independent citizens we must be accountable for the consequences of the freedoms we cherish. From wingnut windbags to flame-throwing candidates to law-abiding gun-toters, we need to take a measure of responsibility -- but not blame -- for the liabilities of our liberties.

Saturday, January 8, 2011


An early January Thaw, accompanied by three days of rain around New Year's, took away our wonderland. Now it's back -- we're seeing our third straight day of light snow.

Winter, with all of its quietude and gentle beauty, has returned to our village.

Scout doesn't much like the snow, at least not yet. She doesn't tolerate the cold well, either -- as an early-winter pound puppy, she didn't have a chance to develop a thick undercoat when the seasons changed. So when we take her outside for her "business trips," one of us usually ends up stuffing a shivering black furball inside a parka.

I'm itching to head down to the woods today, but that'll have to wait 'til tomorrow -- this wintry Saturday is for taking down holiday decorations and running errands.

Still, wherever I am these days, this season is precious to me. Cold and snow aren't for everyone, I know, but I love what winter does to the landscape and its inhabitants. No sun-splashed tropical beach could bring my soul the peace I feel right now.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sharps: Ah, modularity

As a kid I played with Tinkertoys, Lincoln Logs and an Erector Set. (Alas, no Legos.) The experience, which I suspect that many readers share, taught me how to envision something cool, beautiful or functional rising from a pile of parts.

Apparently the lessons stuck.

Tuesday morning, on my own advice, I surfed over to
Wyoming Knife to order a spare bolt-and-wingnut for my Wyoming Saw I. It seemed inefficient, somehow, to drop just 80 cents (plus shipping), so I scanned down the list of parts -- and that's when it hit me.

I spent another $8.95, paid with PayPal and hoped that my Erector Set intuition hadn't misled me.

Here's the deal: Wyoming Knife doesn't promote the building-block design of its three collapsible bow saws, but descriptions and diagrams suggested to me that two additional parts might transform an 11-inch Wyoming Saw I into an 18-inch Wyoming Saw II. I decided that nine bucks was a reasonable price to pay for confirming a hunch.

The package arrived yesterday. Here's my original saw, pictured with the newly acquired frame tube and longer wood blade:

Adding the frame tube and swapping blades gives me this:

Ain't modularity great?

Like I
said on Monday, there are times when "a longer blade...would make things go faster." And although the Wyoming Saw I will remain as-is in our emergency kit, the 18-inch version will be another handy tool for dispatching backyard woodpile chores.

Incidentally, just in case anyone is wondering about converting either of those saws to the mid-size Wyoming Saw III, all it takes is a replacement frame tube, a 14-inch blade and $7.49 (plus shipping).

In closing, I want to give the folks at Wyoming Knife "props" for quick shipping -- Colorado to Ohio in two days via USPS First Class Mail is damned impressive. Also, to my surprise, they enclosed a nifty-looking little knife at no additional charge.

I'm not sure what I'll do with the made-in-USA Wyoming Camp Knife (MSRP $4.95). Its double-grind recurve blade is three inches long, made of some sort of stainless at RC 66-70 (so stated). The exposed tang, secured by two brass pins, extends roughly halfway into the handle, which is laminated wood.

The recurve makes it a slicer, obviously, and it feels like a decent food-prep knife. Once I've put my personal touch on the edge, I think it'll find a home in our camp kitchen.

Quote of the day

"...there are crazy people. I don't know who I want to punch more -- the 'birthers' or the '9/11 truthers.'

"The nation has a bunch of crazy people. Some think the government was behind flying planes into the World Trade Center and some think there's some grand conspiracy that somebody raised up Barack Obama as a Manchurian candidate to become President of the United States.

"These people do crazy things and we like to talk about them, and it is at least a reminder that the rest of us are sane."

(Conservative pundit Erick Erickson of, reacting to the disruption of yesterday's reading-aloud of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives. As Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey read Clause 5 of Article Two -- "No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President" -- a woman seated in the visitors' gallery shouted, "Except Obama! Except Obama! Help us, Jesus!" Idiot.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The monkey's gotta walk now

Ohio State bolted to a 28-7 advantage early in last night's Sugar Bowl. From there they hung on, got lucky and beat Arkansas in a nail-biter, 31-26.

It's the Bucks' first win over an SEC team in ten bowls -- curse over, burden lifted. More important, the victory capped a 12-1 season and ensured a likely top-five ranking when the final polls come out -- but if you read the national media this morning, football doesn't lead the stories.

See, a couple of weeks ago five OSU players were found to have broken NCAA rules by selling memorabilia and getting cut-rate tattoos. All are suspended for the first five games of the 2011 football season, and yet they were allowed to play in the Sugar Bowl.

I can't wrap my brain around an athlete parting with a championship ring, an MVP trophy or a gold-pants charm. I'm sentimental that way, I guess -- I mean, I still have every ticket stub from the Bucks' 1968 national-championship season.

Color me scarlet, gray and disappointed.

Then again, awards belong to the players who earned them -- or they should, anyway. The NCAA rulebook bars athletes from profiting from the sale of that kind of stuff.

It's a rule, another dumb NCAA rule, but a rule nonetheless. Like it or not, punishment is in order -- and the suspensions should've begun with the bowl game, not eight months from now. So why were those five Buckeyes permitted to play last night?

Because the sport's governing body, the schizophrenic NCAA, said so.

The whole affair gives the media plenty of rocks to throw at the NCAA, certainly. Leading up to the bowl, however, and continuing this morning, sports pundits have castigated Ohio State for not voluntarily holding the offenders out of the game with Arkansas.

That kind of moralizing is, to me, as much of a head-scratcher as the NCAA's rule and ruling. It's like demanding that Jim Tressel throw himself on a grenade -- and insisting that he supply his own grenade.

Fortunately, Coach Tressel let his players -- all of them -- decide what to do. The team voted overwhelmingly in favor of letting the five violators play in the Sugar Bowl, and so they did. When the chips had finished falling last night, here's how they fared:
  • Offensive tackle Mike Adams played every series.
  • Wide receiver DeVier Posey caught three passes for 70 yards and one touchdown.
  • Running back Daniel "Boom" Herron rushed for 87 yards and one touchdown.
  • Backup defensive end Solomon Thomas made arguably the game's decisive play, intercepting a pass in the final minute to preserve OSU's victory.
  • Quarterback Terrelle Pryor passed for 221 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 115 and was named the game's MVP.
Now that's sweet. I couldn't be happier for those guys.

All five are juniors, eligible to return next season. They say they will, but you never know. If they do, none will see the field 'til October.

Will their stand-ins be able to carry their load? Probably not. We'll answer that question later.

Right now, if you don't mind, Buckeye Nation would like to get back to celebrating a great season and a Sugar Bowl win.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sharps: Wyoming Saw I

Our holiday haul came with a gift card, which we split among us. I used my share to buy a saw for our family preparedness kit.

The US-made
Wyoming Saw I is the smallest of three collapsible bow saws offered by Wyoming Knife Corporation (which is headquartered, oddly enough, in Colorado). I judged this one to be best for our purposes -- 11-inch blade, 16 ounces, nylon case, $43.35 MSRP.

The Wyoming breaks down into six bits: two stainless-steel frame pieces, cast-aluminum handle, bolt, wingnut and blade. It's supplied with both a wood blade and a bone blade; a hacksaw blade also is available. Everything nests neatly and securely in the case, making for a very compact package.

Any time I try out a new saw, especially a collapsible bow, I can't help but compare it to the well-loved
Sven Saw I've been using since the late 1970s. Since many KintlaLake Blog readers probably are familiar with the Sven, for scale I've included it in a few of the photos.

That said, it'd be neither fair nor useful to pit the smallest Wyoming against the bigger Sven in a head-to-head cutting contest, so I won't.

The Wyoming Saw I assembles quickly and cuts well for a short-stroker. This morning I ran it through some frozen ash from my woodpile and it did exactly what it's designed to do, with no drama whatsoever. A longer blade -- like the 14-inch Wyoming Saw III, the 18-inch Wyoming Saw II or the 21-inch Sven Saw -- would make things go faster, of course.

Each of the three Wyomings, as well as the Sven, employs a bolt-and-wingnut scheme for drawing the blade taut. That wingnut can go flying into low earth orbit at the most inconvenient moments, usually when assembling or disassembling the saw. (Don't ask me how I know.) It's a good idea to carry a spare.

I've rigged a simple wingnut-retention system, visible in the photo above. (Yeah, it's a
Ranger Band.) If that should fail, Wyoming Knife will replace a lost or broken bolt-and-wingnut assembly at no charge -- all I have to do is drop them an e-mail. Nice perk, that.

Bottom line: I like this saw. Used within what I consider reasonable limits, it's a delightfully capable addition to our kit.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Meet 'Scout'

I think this is the first time that I've introduced the concept of "cute" here on KintlaLake Blog. It's been a very long time since I've had a puppy in my life, and I'd forgotten how much I love it.

You're looking at the newest member of our family -- Scout, an eight-week-old Labra-something. She came home with us from the neighboring county's animal shelter this morning.

Mrs. KintlaLake picked her out on Friday. The good folks at the shelter chose her name. Both are perfect.

Scout is entertaining us and, naturally, annoying the hell out of two fluffy toy pooches, the geriatric pair that until today had the run of the place. They'll get over it.

I predict that Scout, tiny as she is now, will grow to be quite (shall we say) substantial. We're imagining long trips in the truck with a big black dog riding shotgun, bright summer days playing fetch at the the moment, though, what we've got is cute.

That'll do.

(Tuckered-out Scout, asleep on the bed that my wife stitched and stuffed for her.)