Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Santa Fe Stoneworks

One of my favorite knife companies graced the cover of the latest issue of Knife World. What, you don’t read Knife World? How is that possible? No matter, you should. The articles are fun, breezy and enjoyable as well as useful. Borrow a copy and I think you’ll want to subscribe. (In full disclosure, Knife World has published me but I read it before I got published and I renew my subscription every year.)

Santa Fe Stoneworks is featured in a nice article with a lot of color images and stunning knives. I have been interested in Santa Fe Stoneworks for several years after first seeing their work at the SHOT Show. My wife and I always stop by their booth at the SHOT or BLADE shows and buy more than we should. To describe their knives as art would not be inappropriate.

I was always under the belief that Bill Wirtel founded the operation, but it seems a fellow by the name of John Iverson started the company, but it has flourished under Bill. He tells me to watch BLADE magazine for another article.

I need another knife. Well, they are accessories for men.

I’m after a more “artsy” looking knife and it has to be hand made. The maker tells me he’s already working on Christmas orders, so it may be a while before I get it.

What did I order?

Not telling. But I’ll give you a hint:

Here are two images. These are dyed-in-blue wool hints.

Figure it out? No? Well, stick with it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fun at Work

We had a family fun day over the weekend and no, there are no photos. The company has very strict policies about taking pictures inside. So no images of mom at her work station.
Still it was very successful. One department froze bananas in liquid nitrogen (about 321 degrees below zero) and used the super hard fruit to pound nails into a board. Stretchy gummy worms shatter like eggshells at that temp. That was a big hit with the kids.

But it was the robot welding of metal airplanes that was a hit with most adults. The planes were about 8 inches long and the robot welded the wings and tail to the fuselage in seconds. Just snap parts into a jig and press go.

Another demo was a high speed camera used to slow down the impact of a Nerf bullet wiping out an empty soda can. The spongy Nerf bullet would strike the can and compress slightly before the can started to tip up and jump off the table. This was also very cool. (Personally, I would have liked to have seen slow motion videos of the rope cutting at the Blade show. Maybe I’ll suggest that for the next Family Day.)

For our part in microscopy we showed everyone dead bees. A co-worker brought me a bag full of dead carpenter bees. Don’t ask. I don’t why he was saving bees. They were pretty beat up, but I made do. I wanted to show the adaptation of the third leg to hold pollen. I would then segway to yellow pine and prickly pear cactus pollen. The yellow pine reminds most people of Mickey Mouse.

                                              M-I-C-K-E-Y--- Why? because we like you.....
The prickly pear cactus had some very interesting surface morphology. My boss wanted to show insect parts so I had a bee’s head mounted so you could see the compound eye. Unfortunately the head fell off the mounting block and is roaming about in the scanning electron microscope.

                                                    LUKE! There's two Death Stars!!

And for a little more detail on the exhaust port weakness............

"If I can just fly down and plant one in that port...."

We didn’t have any give-a-ways, so I suggested we give each child who asked a dead bee. The suggestion wasn’t taken.

For myself, I liked the laser cutting demo. They were making bottle openers by cutting out shapes in steel with a CO2 laser. The beam cut through the steel like a knife blade in balsa wood. Sparks shot up and out and it was magnificent. The laser power peaks at 3200 watts. That’s like lifting a one pound weight 140,800 feet every second.

I’m not sure if that’s actual beam energy or power consumption. Lasers are very efficient at converting light into heat, but not so hot in converting electricity into light. The beam could have been 320 watts of laser energy consuming 3200 watts of electricity. Still, with that power level the only practical safety precaution against exposure is not to be exposed.


Here’s an example why manufacturers and the NRA preach safe storage of ammo. Safe storage is defined as “clean, dry, cool and away from un-authorized users.” It’s a .223 from Wolf and the steel case has started to rust.

                      Wolf .223 steel case.   I like 'em.  They feed and function...What's not to like?

Sure, you could wipe the case clean (don’t use a penetrating oil or you could kill the primer) and shoot it, but I wouldn’t. You’re never really sure what will happen.

Of course, in all fairness to Wolf ammo, I know how it was stored: in the wet grass overnight for at least two rainy days. No wonder a little rust showed up. I found it out on the range one morning. It was probably ejected from a rifle when the chamber was cleared.

Still it was a good object lesson: remember to wipe off your carbon steel knives after using them.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ohio State Fair Cuts the Competition

The Ohio State Fair is over and I miss it already. While I can’t speak for other fair grounds, the Columbus fair grounds are amazing. We took the sky-lift to the far end of the fairgrounds intending to eat our way back to our exit. It also puts us near the poultry exhibition.

Chickens, man, lots of chickens, every place you looked! I really enjoy seeing all the variety of chickens. Some have feathers elongated like swords, while other feathers remind you of fish scales. The colors and patterns of each feather are quite remarkable. Modern chickens are reported to be the descendents of “jungle fowl.” After seeing all the variations, I can believe this.

Doing Hard Time:  20 to life

My wife and I stopped to see the butter cow, another must-see on my list. It’s a life-size cow sculpt from butter. Over the years a butter calf has been added as have various themes. This year the butter theme recognized the Browns and Bengal football teams. Keep that in mind when you see them fumble their way across the gridiron. May be they got the butter football by mistake!

New to me, but not to recent fairgoers - two dairy cows were waiting to give birth. One, the 1100 pound one, looked very uncomfortable. The other, at a petite 800 pounds, looked just bored. The vet was standing by and Bessie’s delivery was going to be public. The vet looked bored too. The only excitement was from the fairgoers.

Traumatize the kids? Perhaps, but then again maybe that’s what we need to see to remind us of our humanity and our connection to the real world. We see the doctor dramas, shoot ‘em ups and splatter films and somehow we forget where we come from and how we got here. Life is special and precious and beautiful. Let’s not forget it.

The only knife vendor was Cutco. I really like these knives, but….Oh, the price! Buy these knives when you’re 25 years old. Then you and your heirs will get real value from your purchase. They are so well made I suspect they will last that long.

Since 9-11, security is the reason for everything. The belief in security as an absolute is a trap for the un-wary. The state fair was no different. Let me make this perfectly clear, as Dick Nixon used to say. I like the police. I couldn’t do their job. They are the line between anarchy and civilization. Having said this, I know they sometimes get stuck with jobs that seem rather silly. Still, they keep as straight a face as possible and do the job.

I was worried about the two knives that I typically carry. I didn’t want to have both taken for security reasons, but I wanted to have at least one on me for security reasons. So I took the one that would be the easiest cheapest to replace and left the other in the car. I stashed my carry knife in my shoulder bag along with my camera.

This joke was on me. Each entrance had ONE metal detector. Just one detector to handle the hundreds thousands that would stream through. You placed your pocket stuff and any carry-in on a table next to the detector and stepped through the little doorway. The officers then handed you back your stuff unsearched, unscanned and un-x-rayed.

I forgot to take my keys and metal kubaton out of my waistband. I left my little flashlight clipped to my shirt, and my shirt pocket was decorated with a small wire-bound notebook and pen, not to mention my metal belt buckle. I didn’t clink when I walked, but it was close. Despite all the metal, I didn’t set off the detector. I suspect there wasn’t any power to the unit.

Security is an illusion. You want to be safe? Keep your eyes open and be prepared for trouble.

Speaking of security, our motel was behind a gentleman’s club. I suspected we might be in for trouble when we arrived at the motel. The door separating the day lobby from the night lobby was a heavy steel door with four of the largest steel hinges welded in place I have ever seen. I have seen high-end safe doors with smaller hinges. Of course the desk clerk is behind 2-inch thick bullet-proof glass. The wavy surface and imperfections in the glass made her look like she’s under water. I thought she was a mermaid.

What caption could I type, that you aren't thinking?

We had a room half way down the side of the motel and the club must have been closed, because we didn’t see anyone. We put a chair against the door anyway.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Remember Sept 11 2001

As we approach the ninth anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center, we are only a little better off. The mastermind of 9-11 is in hiding; we have instituted security measures that many suspect are more flash than bang, and we have forgotten that we are in a war.

It’s a war unlike anything we have experienced before. Future battles are being fought today. Our enemy is polarizing and recruiting the disenchanted. They and their supporters are maneuvering ordinary activities to win future propaganda events. They are using the freedoms we hold dear to twist and hamstring us until, they hope, we explode and demolish our way of life ourselves.

Who are they?

They are the people who want to bring us back to the 12th century. They are men and brainwashed women who feel ordinary women are too inconsequential to have a voice in their lives. And yet these inconsequential women are so powerful that ordinary mortal men must be protected from their feminine wiles. Our enemies are those who would return us to a caste system based on religion with themselves, naturally, on top.

Well, I say “Nuts to them!”

In 2002 I was at Goodyear and one of the fellows remembered the first anniversary with the following article. He told me I could use it because it belongs to us all.

Here it is:

“Well, they certainly got our attention!”
Jeff Cooper:  Cooper’s Commentaries; September 2001

On September 11, 2001
The road maps of our lives are marked by the mile markers of life altering events. It becomes easy to retell our lives by reviewing these events. September 11, 2001 was such a marker. My reaction was first of a horrific accident and then of wondering if at war. I remember the shock and concern in my wife’s voice as she phoned me to both share her concerns, to alert me and yes, warn me. I remember the looks of disbelief and confusion on the faces of my co-workers was they numbly moved like ghosts through the building. As the horrors of the day continued to weigh us down, the seemingly endless flow of information continued to flesh out details of what could only be considered an act of war.

We wondered why and how and who would do such a thing. My thought would flit to living, breathing passengers riding to their deaths on those four airliners and wonder what I would have done in their place. But my thoughts could not linger there; the horror was too great. We asked ourselves who allowed this to happen but despite the finger pointing and blame shifting, we were reminded what some of us never forgot:

“The condition upon which God has given liberty to man is eternal vigilance.”
John Philpot Curram July 10 1790

We have discovered, or perhaps remembered that we are a nation of activists. Even as the dust billowed outward like a malingering evil fog, men and women were answering the challenge. Ordinary men and women converged on New York to do what they could. Our neighbors started raising funds to send to the survivors and rescue workers. People and companies oftered the use of resources with no thought of personal reward and gain.

We prayed for survivors, but we never really expected any. It is said you never find any atheist in foxholes. It also seems in times of tragedy we also turn to a higher power whether we believe or not. We did symbolic things: we turned on our porch lights; we looked into volunteering for air marshal service; we wondered about forming neighborhood guards. Fortunately these things were not needed, but I am sure we would have answered the call.

“A nation needs heroes. It needs examples of valor so that it will know just how it ought to behave.” Teddy Roosevelt

As the criminals who committed these acts were identified our nation rolled up its collective sleeves and went to work. The current conflict is too close to see clearly in perspective. History will eventually sort it out, but I do believe it is necessary. Freedom has a heavy price. I am reminded of Hitler’s invasion into Poland. If England and France would have stood up to the mad little painter, Nazi Germany would have folded. All three countries were ill prepared for war, but by attempting to appease this mad man the world was forced to pay a bill with huge late payment fines. We were late on that payment too. Think about our actions in Afghanistan. There is a bill to pay here too. Realize not everyone will love us or do we need everyone to love us, they just need to understand our commitment to liberty and freedom.

Where does this leave you and me? Can there be any question that the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon was a crime against America and Americans? The recovered videos by CNN show our enemy preparing to commit additional crimes against English speaking countries. Should it be a surprise that we and our staunchest supporter, England, share the same tongue? I have no suggestions for you, but for myself, I’ll read a little Jeff Cooper, become a little more indignant about crime and resolve that I will not let them get way with it. I recommend this path to you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Patsy Cline never had a knife like this

I was wrong.

There isn’t much wiggle room on the knife edge and those of us who attempt to live out there have to face one fact: Sometimes you’re wrong and you’ve got to own it.

I don’t like country/country-western/western music. Something about the sameness of the music or the typical rhythms the vocals have. Of course there are the themes: cheating, lost love and unrequited love. Of course that covers also most forms of music.
I never liked Patsy Cline.

Recently National Pubic Radio had a review of a CD, “Patsy Cline: Sweet Dreams - Complete Decca Collection 1960-1963.” I normally would switch stations, reviews of old CW singers don’t rock my boat, but this time I stayed tuned because I was waiting for a later report I was teased with. I don’t remember what that was, but I remember the review.

After listening to a sampler of selections in chronological order, starting with the first and moving to the last, I have to change my mind. Listen to her first “I Fall to Pieces” and then “Crazy” written by Willie Nelson. The difference is impressive. This record also helped establish Willie as a talent to be reckoned with. Then listen to her “Sweet Dreams.”

Patsy Cline died in a plane crash in 1963. She was just about to become the center of a storm in CW music. Patsy Cline would have been the most influential female vocalist of the 20th century, and no doubt, would have changed country western music in ways we can not imagine.

NPR has an excellent review of a newly assembled CD called “Patsy Cline: SweetDreams The Complete Decca Masters”

And of course, see for much more information.

I was wrong and I admit it – Patsy Cline could sing.

On The Knife Front

I just got my hands on a CRKT Ignitor. It’s an assisted opening knife but what separates it from the rest is the lock. The lock doubles as the opening stud.

Opening stud and lock, two functions in one

Press the opening stud into the blade and it depresses the lock on the other side of the blade.

                                 It takes a little practice to incorporate the press and then the flick,

Now just flick the blade forward and it opens. This knife might be legal in NYC… The blade can’t be flicked open unless you unlock it first.

Open Sezs Me!

Note, I’m not a lawyer. I don’t even play one on the radio so carrying this knife in NYC could be hazardous to your bank account. Cheaper to just stay home. Safer too! Besides considering how unfriendly NYC is to the knife and gun culture, why would you want to go any way!

Knife specs? I thought you would never ask:
Blade: 3.38 inches long, 0.11 inch thick and made of 8CR14MOV steel
Handle: G10
You can get it plain edge or that wicked Veff serrated edge
Weight: a nice 3.5 ozs.

I think the assisted knife craze is leveling off. But still, this is one nice knife and I think I’m going to enjoy it.