Thursday, January 8, 2015

Adventures in God's Waiting Room Part 3


Different cultures have drastically different concepts of time.

Many Native Americans have trouble adjusting to the dominant live-by-the clock society we live in.  For some, work starts when everyone is ready and finishes when it proper to be done.  We laugh at our neighbors to the south about their manana approach to work. 

But let’s not get too smug about our sense of time.  Admiral Gallery writes of being stationed in Iceland running aerial anti-sub patrols in the north Atlantic during WWII using a three-day calendar.
The three days?  Yesterday, today and tomorrow, of course.  He claims this worked so well they had to assign a yeoman the job of keeping track of the actual calendar date for official paperwork.

So this trip I learned about Dad’s time.
Dad: “Let’s go out to breakfast tomorrow.”
Me: “Great!  What time do you want to go?”  (I’m hoping for 8:30ish)
D: “How about 10:30?”
M: “That’s a little late, Dad.”
D: “Well, I want to sleep in a little.”
The phone rings at 8:30 the next morning.  I’ve slept in and I had to fumble for the cell phone.
Dad:  “Where are you?”
M: “I’m on the third hole of the Greenbrier golf course putting for a double birdie.”
D: “I thought we were going for breakfast?”
M: “We are.  You said 10:30.  It’s 8:30 now.”
D: “Well I got up at 6 and I thought you might be ready to go.”
That’s how I found out about dad time and I understand it’s a condition chronic to retirees.

The trip is over and I’m soon heading home.  I’ve got to admit I’m not looking forward to the drive.  I’m especially not looking forward to Ohio cold either.

These are my feet on Jan 3.  What did yours look like?

People in Florida love to boast about the nice winter weather.  “December was a bitch,” they say.  “The average high was only 65 and partly sunny.  Why at night it got down to 51 degrees!!” 

Of course, I like ask them about May, June, July, and August. 

 “We get used to the heat.” I’m told.  “Really? I respond.  “Then why do you all have air conditioning?.”  “Well,” they reply.  “We don’t like the excess sun. So we stay in during the day.”

Traveling down to Florida I did notice some states and counties have different ideas about roadside bill board signs.  Ohio has relatively few of these giant skyscraping advertisements.  Still, Ohio is not as bad as some.  In California I noticed a lot of advertisements for breast enhancement and lawyers for help you with your botched boob job.  In Florida it’s all about senior living and lawyers who help you with your botched medical procedure.

The Florida biosphere is really different.  The birds and palm trees are wonderful but I’m just crazy about the little lizards that live everywhere. 

The Florida sun bringer?

I had developed a theory that lizards cause sunshine.  Yes, it could be true, because every time I saw these guys, it was sunny.  But then again I might have it backward.

My wife and her flock

I was enjoying the view by the pond and a flock of birds found me in their constant search for a hand-out.  Of all the white plumed birds, one bird was clearly a rebel.  While I was observing the lone non-conformist rebel, a woman stopped in her car to talk with me.

Rebel punk bird!

  As I explained before, the residents are very much interested in who you are.  Residents wear badges with their name on it.  But visitors remain completely anonymous.  Security appears to be almost non-existent and anyone could walk in and enjoy the coffee and continental breakfast, stroll around the pond or take books out of the honor system video and book library. 

This time the conversation went from the polite ‘Are you visiting someone?’ and “How long are you staying?’ to the third degree.

When she got to  “Where were you born?” I had decided I had enough.  Either this woman needed to pull a badge or find someone else to practice water boarding on.

“Where was I born?”  I repeated.   “In a hospital….Because I wanted to be near my mother.”  And I went back to Hammett’s “The Thin Man.”

The trip home was long and greatly helped by the book tape we were listening to.  I don’t remember the title, but it involved lost love regained, trains, snow storms, Hollywood directors and thievery.  All and all a very satisfactory listen.

The only real bump in the road was a fill up at the WV-Ohio state line.  The pump indicated I had to see the inside clerk if I wanted a receipt.  I believe these non-available receipts are a scam with the goal of getting you in the store and confronting you with items you neither want nor need, but must have because you don’t have one.  I got in line at the register.   I had to wait for Bubba in front of me.

Bubba: “Got any vapor refills?”  I assume he was asking about the e-cigarettes.
Clerk: “Yeah, I got Red and Blue.”  
B: “What size?”  Apparently Bubba knew what red and blue tasted like.
C: “Don’t know.  I’ll check.”  She walks over to a plexiglass case, opens it and studies the contents like it would be the final question on judgment day.  Comes back and announces “I got big and small.”  
B: “How much?”
C:  I don’t know.  I’ll have to check.” She repeats the size performance.

While this is going on I’m thinking “Please, please, pleasepleaseplease finish!  I just need a receipt from pump 7 and I can be gone!”

C: “Well, the big is 9 bucks and the small 7,”  Bubba had to think about it and check his wallet.  
B: “I take the small.  Oh, I want a lottery ticket too!”

Here’s a hint.  If you have to debate the 7 dollar addiction compared to the 9 dollar addiction, you can't afford lottery tickets.

Twenty minutes later I’m back on the road thinking if I could show the security tape to a jury, they would never convict me.

After I’m home I call my dad to let him know we are safe and no longer on the road.  The conversation ends with…

Dad:  “I’m glad you’re safe.  Boy, I really miss you two!”

How incredibly sweet!  It was an expensive trip, took a lot of time and involved hard work to get everything organized, packed and ready to go.  We spend a lot of hours behind the wheel to travel about 2400 miles.  Suddenly all the work and effort seems so light and easy.

Me:  “Well, thank you, Dad.  We miss you too!”
Dad:  “Yeah, I don’t have anyone to play cards with now.”

Part One

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Adventure in God’s Waiting Room part 2

I’m changing the name of these postings.  My wife suggested it and it occurred to me it would be a great name for a blog about life and adventure.  After all, aren’t we all in God’s waiting room?

Retirement village
Retirement Village or City of the Dead
Last night we were back at the Gulf watching an extended family light and launch the little hot air luminaries to the setting sun.  Buoyed by hot air the little miniature balloons were sent on a one-way trip into the Gulf.  

Launching?  Dreams, good byes, hopes or just having fun?

I’ve read of cultures that write the names of loved ones lost the previous year on them.  Or perhaps you just want to send your prayers, cares and wishes to the universe on the beginning of the new year , this might be a good start.  It sounds very solemn, peaceful and almost religious.

This extended family was just having fun, cousins talking to aunts and uncles, mothers and dads, sis and brother, all laughing and getting splashed by waves as they tried to launch each one.  I’m sure they were creating memories and drawing closer to each other.  Hmmm, maybe it was religious after all.

First sunset of 2015
First Sunset of 2015.  What lies ahead?

The first sunset of the 2015 was underwhelming.  I had hoped for some insight to how the year would unfold, but Dame Fortune revealed nothing to me.  Maybe that is the message.  The year 2015 isn’t written and we each have chances to take and fortunes to dare!

Back at the retirement village, I’ve seen too many people to claim I’m staying in the city of the dead.  Still, it’s eerie to sit at the entrance to the floor and at 5 pm never see anyone.  The darkness closes in on you and all you can hear is the bubbling of the fountain below on the third floor.  Occasionally the automatic doors whoosh open, but you never hear footsteps.  Maybe the sensors see things mortals don’t.  It’s peaceful and a little spooky.

The residents pass me in the hall or notice me at the coffee/bagel breakfast bar and give me a curious look.  I’m too young they think (maybe, I could have made a fortune and hired a doctor to keep me young) to be a resident but they’re not sure.  Maybe I’m visiting and then again, well, who knows.  I’m sure they are thinking that youth is wasted on the young.

There’s a small pond outside and I enjoy feeding the birds.  There are common ducks (a few), and several orange faced Common Moorhens.  I’m sure , if it could, that bird would not choose to call itself that if anyone have consulted with it. 

The flock arrives for feeding!
There also several small white, long legged wading birds with a longish curved bill. not in the bird book I found.

The pond is also home to several large soft-shell turtles.  These guys must be the SEALs of  the turtle world.  All you see are two eyes and a nose above the water.  They approach the target under water, pause to check six, and gulp! the prize just disappears without a ripple.  Mission successful, one fed turtle.

Last night was movie night.  That’s not an experience to miss.  The movie was “Father of the Bride” with Spencer Tracy.  It was interesting to see how Hollywood saw or at least portrayed the upper middle class family in 1950.

Question?  Does anyone still wear a suit when eating dinner at home anymore?  Do you ladies still wear pearls to eat with the family?

It was also interesting to experience the movie with the old folks.  One woman thought the movie was too loud and when it was made softer, she wanted closed captions.  Everyone wants a different volume and didn’t hesitate to speak out, preventing anyone from hearing anything.  The collective wisdom of the audience decided that while a room temperature of 74 degrees was too cold, they could tough it out.  Several wondered where the popcorn was.

Me?  I had a beer.  I needed a second one.

Thinking about a Christmas or Birthday present for a retired parent or favorite aunt?  Let me suggest silk long underwear, electrically heated slippers and a megaphone. 

They would be useful for movie night.

Part One

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Adventure in Gods Waiting Room

Any trip to Florida in the winter is an adventure.  Especially over the holidays when everyone is double nuts to enjoy every minute even if it kills them.

Where I-77 crosses from West Virginia into Virginia is the East River Mountain Tunnel.  Last year a rock slide on the Virginia side closed the north bound lane.  This year flashing signs warned the south bound tunnel was closed.  Cars were already backed up into a parking lot.  I could picture some tragic accident involving several cars which would close the tunnel while they checked the structural integrity of the mountain.  A process which could take 3 days  (it was the holidays after all) and would result in a parking lot reaching north to the Ohio river.

Fortunately we were in the right lane and could duck off at an exit which dumped us off where only God and our GPS knew where.  And they were not very expressive about it.

Between the tablet and the GPS (Thank God for technology!) we found ourselves driving up the side of the mountain in a fog and snow storm on route 598.  The route put us back on I-77 below the tunnel only to find the entrance closed by the state troopers.  Seems the interstate was closed while a construction crew moved a large overhead road sign about.   Closing the tunnel was a natural pinch point for this same operation.  At least there were no fatalities there.

So Close!  

We finally arrived at my father’s apartment.  We knocked on the door and it opened to be greeted by chemical warfare. Great clouds of BenGay and cat urine rolled out the door and damn near knocked us on our collative asses.

It was good to see my Dad.

One is my dad the other Santa. Take your best quess.

I finally convinced him to crack a window to let a little fresh air in.  No sooner had I done that then Lilly, his cat, rushed out of hiding and launched herself at the window ledge.  Prostrating herself with her nose out the screened opening I was afraid her whiskers would irreversibly lock in to the window screen.  My father claims Lilly likes to lay on the window ledge.  It is my contention that the cat is simply hoping for some stray air leakage around the window.

I cautioned my father not to apply any more liniment to his knees as the diners in the restaurant might not enjoy their food as much as they could in the aroma’s absence.  I also called Sharky’s and moved my reservation from inside to outside were the Gulf ocean breeze soon defeated the problem.

Sharky’s is one of the better seafood restaurants in this part of Florida.  People travel from great distances to come to Venice and one of their first stops is Sharky’s.  I had wonderful coconut shrimp and my wife is still talking about her grouper.   

My father had a hamburger.

Next year, God willing, I’m going to take him to McDonalds.

We returned to join the New Year’s party that was scheduled to run from 7:00 to 8:30.  Dad couldn’t wait.

The staff brought in at least 40 bottles of sparkling wine and made the mistake of opening them.  For retirees, these folks sure know how to pack away the booze.  By 8:00 you could only find the non-alcoholic sparking apple juice.  Nobody was drinking that!

The Baby 2014s
Our collective (if we are lucky) future New Years.
(The rest of the empties are under the table)

We made it to midnight to see Taylor Swift outside in Times Square freezing her butt off.  She admitted her choice of a bare midriff outfit was a little too skimpy for New Year’s Eve in freezing weather.  Talented but not too bright.

Happy New Year to Everyone!

Part Two

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Benchmade Blues

I really like Benchmade Knives, but as they say “to err is human…”

I think their HK Scorch (catalog 14975) is a super idea.  It’s one of the dual mode knives people are talking about.  I wrote about it here.

The HK Scorch made by Benchmade.  This one is self opening!

I recently got a Scorch that  opens itself.  It’s self-activating.

While this is a great thing with people, it’s a terrible thing with guns and knives.  I kept noticing the Scorch always seem partially opened when I had it on display.  I thought someone had examined it and left it in that condition.  What a surprise it was when I closed it and watched it pop open.  It’s going back.

I contacted Benchmade and they claim there is no general recall on the Scorch.  It was forcefully pointed out to me by the young lady I was talking to, that since it’s made in American, it can be repared in the great state of Oregon.  

I suggest you deal with an “authorized Benchmade dealer”. Just fill out the paperwork on the Benchmade website and get it done.

Nobody wants a self-activating knife in their pocket!

On the upside, one of my friends did some internet work and put together a chart to help date Benchmade knives as of Dec 2014.  It all focuses on the Benchmade butterfly.

 To 1999         Bali-song Butterfly with antenna
1999 to 2002 Benchmade Butterfly with antenna
2002 to 2004 Benchmade Butterfly with antenna and model number under butterfly
2004 to present   Benchmade Butterfly without antenna and model number under butterfly

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Edging Around

The December meeting at WRCA was “Warther knife night”.  Perhaps the best known Warther is the patriarch, Mooney.  Known for both knife-making and his love of carving scale model steam-powered locomotives, Mooney created a little spot of knife heaven in Dover, Ohio. 

Each monthly WRCA meeting has a theme, but you can show off anything you want. 

The images of carving s have nothing to do with Warther, but the owner thought they were cool.
I knew Mooney made combat knives for WWII.  These knives are more works of art than combat ready knives. 

Warther women's tactical knife or watch the knife, my fingers never leave my hand!

He had his ideas of what a combat knife should do.  I’m not sure they fit current notions and perhaps not even WWII notions. 

Regardless of my opinion, Warther combat knives fetch extreme prices from collectors.

I was not aware that Mooney made reduced scale combat knives for women.  One of the club members showed what he claimed Mooney called a purse knife for women in the military service.  The knives had a slightly smaller handle and a thin, shorter, more stiletto shaped blade than the GI fighting ones. The sheath still had a loop to wear on your belt but no eazy way  to attach it to the inside of a purse

Daggers are a women's best friend
The blade and handle seem out of proportion to each other and the guard seemed over large.

The one showed was made for, if I remember correctly, Mooney’s oldest daughter because she asked for one.  She has since passed on, but knife resides with a cousin.
Warther kitchen and pocket knives are perhaps best known for the jewelling on the blade and the unique use of silver coins as bolsters and are quite collectable.  I know a number of people who have had custom knives made with a coin with special date on it. 

One of the guests showed off some very old 1950ish ivory-handled Warther knives.  He indicated our government is still trying to prevent the sale of ivory in the US.  He may own the knives, but he cannot sell them or leave them to a beneficiary in his will.  Since they were harvested from elephants 3-4 decades ago their sale and ownership will not harm a single elephant.

To prevent elephant poaching, our government would like to take the profit out of it.  By preventing the sale of any elephant ivory, even from those killed in the 1950s, they hope to dry up the market.  The irony is the same day WRCA met, NPR had a broadcast in which they explained ivory sales in China, driven by their expanding middle and upper classes, are going to though the roof.  Of course China has no problem saying one thing and doing something else.

Each meeting has a door prize and I won a nice Bear and Son trapper.  It was our 2010 club knife.  Bear and Son are out of Georgia and make their knives locally.  The stag is pretty, and for a friction folder it’s a very nice knife.

WRCA Club Knife  2010
WRCA Club knife 2010

Reason 27 why I carry a pocket knife.
To eat your lunch with it.

At least I didn't have to run it down and kill it, cook it and then eat it!

England continues to ban pointy knives and has declared war on ordinary kitchen knives.

It’s had to make a snide remark about that.  Anything thing I could say would only subtract from the complete lunacy and make whole mess less of a surreal farce.  

Oh, wait I have one:  Thank God, I’m an American.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


The Ka-Bar TDI self defense knife made a big splash when it arrived on the scene.  Designed by John Benner to help LEOs cut themselves free should they or their gun be grabbed, it was a big hit with the civilian population as well. 

TDI Knife
The original plain edge TDI self -defense knife  quite a little chamer!

It was designed to be held with the wrist in the neutral position to provide strong, powerful stabbing as well as strong, supported slashing.

The downside, such as it is, the small 2.5 inch blade.  While the TDI knife can be used for opening letters and shaving tinder and fir sticks, but the angled shape prevents it from functioning as an effective pry bar.  Admit it.  Prying things apart is the most common non-cutting function we subject a knife to.

Ka-bars TDI Hinderance
Nice lines, deep finger grooves for grip and a great friction surface for your thumb

Rick Hinderer brings his experience as a fire fighter and EMT to this collaboration with John Benner.  The 3.5 inch blade is described as a modified tanto, but I consider it a wharncliffe blade.  Lets go head-to-head.

Benner TDI
1095 Cro-Van
Blade length
2.25 inches
3.5 inches
Overall length
5.5 inches
7.25 inches
Blade Type
Plain or full serrated
Blade thickness
0.12 inch
0.19 inch

I don’t like giving prices.  You can always find someone selling it for less.

Note the thumb release in upper right edge of sheath

The Hinderance is a heaver, thicker knife with lower Rockwell hardness as suits a pry bar application.  The 1095 Cro-Van steel appears to an upgraded 1095 steel.  A little chromium and vanadium is added to improve strength and edge cutting power.  I’d still wipe it down with oil every once in a while.  I can’t tell you about cutting, as the Hinderance isn’t mine, but it’s made by Ka-Bar so I’m sure it cuts just fine.

The original TDI knife could be drawn from the sheath as either saber or reverse grip because the knife was locked into its sheath by the shape of the knife.  The Hinderance (clever use of Rick’s name) requires a latch to be depressed.  This requires a saber or hammer grip.

Ka-Bar's TDI Hinderance
TDI's logo on one side and Ricks's on the other
I really like the neutral wrist position of the Benner TDI.  Despite the slight curve of the Hinderance I have to cock my wrist to bring the blade parallel to the ground for stabbing.

The Hinderance is well designed and I like the massive thumb friction ridge just ahead of the handle, but despite the smaller size I think the Benner TDI has advantages over the Hinderance.
That doesn’t mean I won’t end up with a Hinderance.  I find its shape exciting and the blade lines attractive.

Columbia River Knife and Tool turned 20 this year.  They have produced interesting knives that tend to be over-engineered.  Frankly that’s a good thing as it makes for a more durable knife.  Their M16 folders have been copied by many companies as well as a target for knock-offs.  While not every design is a home run, they are batting better than .600. 

In addition to knives they make axes, backpacking spoons, multi-tools, sharpening systems and survival tools.  I recently bought from them a paracord survival bracelet charm. 

Compass and firestarter
the little nubben on the bottom of the plastic housing pulls out and gives you a firestarter
The theory is most paracord bracelets give you at least 6 feet of paracord containing 7 strands.  So why not add a compass and mini-light or fire starter to that?

I am not convinced.  I remember wristband compasses that would become de-magnetized or attracted to the metal case of some watches.  Still I’m a sucker for these gadgets so I bought the compass/firestarter combination for my paracord bracelet. 

The housing slips over the bracelet and is locked in place with a little plastic screw.  This didn’t work too well for me, but as long as I have the bracelet on, it’s not going anywhere.  The fire starter has a 1 inch ferrocium rod and two little metal surfaces you can use to make a spark.  I’m not impressed, I had trouble getting nice fat sparks, but I’m not Bear Grylls either.  I need to practice.

The compass seems to be holding up and I’ll give it a trial next month out in the woods.  I’m also going to put a small stretch of duct tape around the ferrocium rod to make sure it doesn’t fall out.

Survival kits are popular.  Catalogs sell them and claim their kit is what the US Foreign Corp issues to overseas personnel or carried by the SEALs.  I don’t think that one I need in Africa or Central America is the one I need going to work.  My best survival kit could well be a credit card and 50 bucks in fives and tens. 

But I will say, if you’re going carry one I think you should design it for your applications. Breachbangclear is running a series on survival kits.  Ignore Redhead Fridays and Cheekweld Wednesdays if you want , but read the series.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

knife club

Most of us belong to a knife club of some sort.  It may be local or a national organization like the Kershaw Collectors.  If you collect a specific type of knife or brand you will find a club that caters to your refined taste.

I’m a generalist and the best fit I could find was Western Reserve Cutlery Association.  We just had our November meeting and the topic was carving knives.   Before I go any further I’d like point out I’m this year’s vice-president, so I have a bit of a bias.

I will say the best part of the monthly topic is not the knives, but the personalized translation of the topic.  One member changed carving knives into carved knives and brought out a pile of knives carved out of wood.  Denny also a nice collection of pliers carved out of wood by Mooney Warther

Wooden knives and Moony pliers
You're right the knife at 12 o'clock is real, but the rest are wooden.

You can still find them on EBay.  They are rather simple, but Mooney used to sit and with nothing but a pre-cut length of bass wood (I think it was bass) and a carving knife make these pliers to the delight of visitors to his shop.

We’re also getting ready for our Knife Expo May 16 and 17 2015 at the Buckeye Event Center off of route 30 in Dalton, Ohio.  It’s a nice place.  I’ve been there for gun shows and have always been impressed with the clean facilities, wide aisles, large parking area and general professionalism of the staff.

Here’s a link to the form.  Just fill it out and mail it in.  We’ll do the rest.

If you’re a knife maker or dealer, you should attend this show.  An 8-foot table for two days with optional setup on Friday evening costs just $50.  I’ll be there with my knives.  If you’re a collector this is also the show for you.  It’s $5 to get in and the food service is worth the price of admittance.