Stuff gets more advanced and technical all the time. The modern carbon-fiber upscale bikes have, in their technological DNA, a sort of wooden scooter bench.
And now, things are getting just a little more fine-tuned.
Stuff gets more advanced and technical all the time. The modern carbon-fiber upscale bikes have, in their technological DNA, a sort of wooden scooter bench.
And now, things are getting just a little more fine-tuned.
Finally, here’s my review of my favourite toy at the moment, a Walden 9’2″ Magic Model longboard (yes, a surfboard, despite Google’s tendency to give the nod to skateboards as the true definition of “longboard”. Which is longer, I ask you? I thought so).
In Barbados, official surf season is between November and May, but it tapers off slowly, so you’ll still have something to do up until late June. From July until November, there will be a subset of the local populace secretly wishing for hurricanes to form in the Atlantic. We know who we are. Terrible I know, but there’s no denying it. It’s about the only way we’ll reliably get a fix here for a good four months. Of course, one doesn’t always know the whim of Poseidon, and occasionally there will be the odd swells not accompanied by other weather features which imperil life and limb.
Many of the breaks here are reef breaks, meaning the main reason the waves curl is the texture of the surface under the sea. I haven’t yet encountered a sandy seafloor with decent waves; it’s often all coral, rock and sometimes sea urchins where you most want to place your tender tootsies. Suck it up, son.
First off, I’m no expert. I started at the positively geriatric age of 37 (in surf years, that’s about 127 with asthma, dementia and a broken hip).
I learned to surf on an NSP 11 foot-plus board, AKA “The Mattress of the Sea”, for its Brobdignagian length and hydrophobic buoyancy. (You know you’re a beginner when hot surfer chicks look at you rockin’ on your ride and say things like “Yeah, I think that’s a stand-up paddleboard”.)
I’m a “goofy”-footer. Right-foot forward, as intended by nature, as opposed to the misnamed “natural” left-foot forward abomination of a stance that apparently represents the style of a significant majority of surfers. Mutants, the lot of ye, no offense. I learned to surf on a left break (facing the shore, the waves break from your right to your left) and still haven’t wrapped my head around this notion of going right, with the wave over my right shoulder. I learn these newfangled tricks slower than most. Maybe by my 50s.
Off the lip? Well, off somebody’s lip at any rate, if they aren’t paying attention when I’m coming through. You take your life into your hands when you enter the water when I’m in it on this baby. No, I can’t stop that quickly. Or turn. No, I wasn’t actually chasing you down deliberately and yes, that does look like it hurts quite a lot, but would you please not bleed on my board, you’re making it slippery, thanks.
Abandon hope all ye who peel off this sticker and gaze beneath…
Presented at a small size to reduce discomfort.
Some earlier designs.
It may sound as though I’m disparaging the board, when really, I’m not. I’m sure I’m a better surfer because I have to pay so much attention to the rudiments of the skill on this board, no question, and will be better still if I keep at it.
What fails for me is obviously not the going experience; I haven’t seen many, if any, bad reviews of Waldens out there. Makes me think I’m doing it wrong or something.****
Intolerant devices in theory enable swifter progress, like arson convictions promote safer kitchen practices. The danger is that you’ll succumb to frustration and take up swimming, if the surf bug has not already invaded your bloodstream. Astonishingly to me, I have met, in my short career, many people who Used to Surf.
I can’t help but wonder, did they start on a Walden?
* I’m probably doing it wrong.
** I was probably doing it wrong.
*** He’s probably right.
**** Pretty sure I’m doing it wrong.
So, TSOJ sent in this neat thing- the Invisible Bike Helmet. It’s a little misnamed. I’d have called it the AirHeadBag. But then it wouldn’t sell as well.
Click HERE to watch!
If you ask an eleven year old what the “tweens” are, they will broodingly tell you it is the transition time from being a snot nosed kid to being a proper teenager.
If you ask a redneck what a “taint” is, he will likely put his Bud Light Clamato down long enough to joyfully explain the anatomy of it.
If you ask a football player what a shoulder season is, he will tell you it’s the time you have immediately before your throwing arm goes out and you have to start selling used cars in Albuquerque.
Now, I will tell you the REAL definition of these three words/phrases.
Tweens: modern English – slang. The time between mountain biking season and ski season.
Taint: traditional red-neck – slang. “Taint mountain biking season and ‘taint yet ski season… it’s the wet spot in b’tween”
Shoulder season: proper outdoor speak. Late fall, when there’s snow in the mountains, but the ski areas aren’t open yet and you paid so much for your backcountry skis that you’re not going to go out and trash them on hidden rocks.
In my house it’s easy to tell that the tweens have struck. Usually, the time of the taint is marked by me standing in front of the window trying to force snow out of the clouds with my Jedi mind tricks, or I’m in the garage stroking my skis while whispering, “my preeeecious…”
This weekend I walked around the house in my bike shorts with my ski helmet on, while my kids looked at me with a mix of pity and disappointment. Then, my phone rang and my buddy, Geoff, told me the bike trails weren’t too muddy and we should get one last ride in. I accepted this lie, and ran outside to load my bike in the car.
The trail we picked was in Sage Hills near Wenatchee, WA. It was cold. Dark rain clouds were rolling in. I hadn’t had lunch. We were looking at an hour of hard, steep climbing and my toes were already frozen.
In other words… awesome on a stick.
The ride was fantastic (if you don’t put much stock in numb toes, cold fingers, burning lungs, tired legs, dirt in my eye, soaking wet clothes, and getting snowed and rained on). After the snow started, the trail got a little sloppy and the traction was either fun or scary depending on your point of view. The final descent was bliss with a cherry on top. Neither of us left the bike unintentionally and we both made it to the car with big smiles. It’s hard to beat that on a shoulder season weekend.
On the drive back, Geoff and I faced the fact that we had indeed ridden the last ride of the season; and rode it well, I should add. I hosed off the bike and hung it lovingly in the garage with a little tear forming in my eye (the one with dirt in it). Now the real waiting can begin.
Next weekend the trails will probably be too soft or iced over, and only the guys who like skiing on rocks will be up in the mountains. I’ll just stay here and have a cup of tea with my ski boots on, and try to invent a new sport for the shoulder season. Maybe something involving Yard Darts. I’ve always liked Yard Darts.
Ed: The above lawn dart photo was lifted, by the editor, from THIS blog, where you can go and view it in its natural state, along with some photos of scooters and cool things. It’s a lovely photo, don’t you think?
JackTheBlack4444 is making my job easier these days by putting good stuff into my inbox for you.
He says we ought to be doing this, and I can’t imagine any of us are disagreeing.
The only problem I see is that you have to play in the mud and rain if you expect to get good and disgustingly filthy. Like in paintball. Or disc golf, assuming you’re doing it right. Or, you know, in anything. Well, watch the video and check out the website HERE
That didn’t work. It was eye-popping, so I swapped it out for this:
That was still messing with folk’s ability to read the comment section, so for those of us who aren’t as computer-savvy as AllanVS, I’ve now swapped it again to this nice monochrome blue. We’ll test-phase it for a day or two, and then either leave it for a while, or maybe dim it down a bit if it’s still causing legibility issues. [Edit. There were, in fact, still legibility issues. I've dimmed it. Let me know what you think.]
They’ll be the same vinyl as the original round stickers, so they’re pretty much weatherproof.
If you’ve read this far in what has seemed to be a pretty pointless blog post, I’ll reward you with this- I’m talking to an agent who I will hopefully be engaging in some capacity soon, and who will hopefully get me to a position where I’m running ’round the country to a few comics conventions next year (some of you might remember that I had hoped to pull that off for this past year, but it turns out that it takes a LOT more planning than I can often put into things) So we’re looking at what sorts of things tend to go well at conventions, that you guys might like to have. Stickers, obviously, and the so-called ‘lapel pins’ which have become ‘lanyard pins’ at conventions. I’m partway through with the cover for the next Hubris book, which will feature the Great Stanky Creek/Snake Oil Outdoorfest, and will (this is the time-consuming part) have some of the stuff that you guys had hoped to see in the website, but that I cut out for various reasons. If you’d like to make sure that I remember to include your favorite games or characters in the book version, click the ‘contact’ or ‘email’ button now and remind me.
‘Poster’ has already come up as a possibility for the new design (Here’s an extra trivia game for you- who knows what company I’m parodying with the new design?) and of course, I’ll have to do shirts. Maybe hats, but I have two other designs I want to do on hats. I have a neat idea about the shirts, and I don’t know if it’ll pan out, but I’m checking into it.
There you go- all the news that fit to speculate about. You guys tell me what you’d like to see me doing- what products, what conventions, whatever… and I’ll tell my (hopefully) new agent, and we’ll see where it goes.
Also, if you’d like some stickers, as always, send me a photo or product review or something. Or if you’ve already sent me something I’ve used to pad out my Tuesdays or Thursdays (sporadically, lately) then remind me of your address, and I’ll send stickers- even if I’ve already sent some before. I probably owe you more than stickers, so speak up, I’ll send ‘em. I still have some of the round ones, and some of the larger paper ones, and soon, the new design.
I mentioned in an earlier post that I really liked my Kershaw pocketknife, and kept it, even though I’d damaged and re-ground the blade.
I also mentioned that I had carried a Spyderco knife previous to the Kershaw.
I didn’t, I think, mention that I now carry a Spyderco again.
Here it is:
I originally happened across Spyderco knives when I started kayaking rivers where rescue ropes were routinely seen. Every PFD (lifejacket) that I’ve ever owned had some kind of tab for affixing a knife, and the bulky overstuffed thing I first wore on the Nantahala river was no different. Time, then, to get a knife.
I had an old sheath knife in a waterproof box in my boat, but that was mostly for eating lunch with- no way to get at it efficiently during a problem, you see.
I remembered the sort of utility/rescue knives some scuba divers had, from my days when I dived a little. Those were really cool, but they were very single-purposed in a multi-purposed way, what with their screwdriver ends and barbed line-cutters and saw edges on the back and all. They were scuba knives, and not for anything else.
Gerber made some nice kayaking knives a little like that. Plastic sheathed, made to wear upside down so you could reach up to your PFD, grab the handle and bring it down and out to where you’d want it. Square tipped for screwdriving. Very cool. Good for PFD. Good for tacklebox. Couldn’t put it on your belt or in your pocket unless you wanted to be made fun of.
Instead of that, I bought a folding Spyderco knife. It looked like something I could use on the river and in my pocket. Molded plastic handle, with a big, round thumbhole in the back of the blade for single-hand opening. Very slick. Little pricey, but not so much if you think you might carry it around all the time, not just on rivers.
So I bought the one that was all they had left in that flavor- half regular blade, half serrated and not too big or small. Delica.
Turned out great. It was a little iffy on the knife tab of my PFD. The integral clip could have been longer, and it would have stayed put better, but I kept an eye on it and it worked out okay.
And, of course, I never used it to free my (or anyone else’s) ankle from a trailing rope or unfortunately placed fishing line.
It was hell on FedEx boxes and the like, though. Zip, zot, and you’re in.
And I lost it.
And I got another. I may have found the first one again, if memory serves. And then misplaced and refound both in turn for a while.
While I still had the first one, though, I was wearing it clipped to the edge of my right-hand pocket like I (and various outdoor workers, rednecks, woodsmen, and doughty men ’round the world) do, when I spotted a couple of friends at the pet food store. One friend ran in for dog food and the other (a well-known local radio personality! Hi Bev!) stayed outside to watch their dogs and chat. ”Where’d you get the left-handed knife?” she said. She obviously knew more about knives than I do. ”The whuh?” I said, intelligently. She pointed out that the way the knife was turned in my pocket, it was meant to be a lefty. I thought back to when I bought it years and years before. THAT was the reason they only had this one left. “Left” being the operative word.
Turns out that the way I like to slide my hand straight down the knife in my pocket, draw it out and open it one handed is a little backward to what people usually like. I do better with a lefty set up. Weird.
I didn’t really think much about it ’til I got that nice Kershaw. I drew it out of my pocket the same way, but there was an extra little roll of the hand to get it ready to open that I wasn’t used to. I got used to it, and liked the way a Kershaw springs open. And like I said, I stuck with Kershaw, and made gifts of Kershaws for a few years.
This last time, feeling I needed a whole knife blade again instead of the little re-ground thing I was down to, I went back to the Outdoor store to get a Kershaw (Bass Pro Shops, at least the one I go to, no longer carried them, and though everything’s available on the internet, I like to shop in person.) And saw the Spyderco knives. No longer molded all of a piece, the clips are now metal and bolted on, and can be changed around to suit the buyer. There was a mixup on the price, and I discovered that it was half again as much as the Kershaw I had come in for. ”Screw it.” I thought. ”I’m going back to the ol’ Spyderco.” and I did. And it was a little iffy going back to opening a knife with my thumb the first few times, but it all came back. I now pull it out and open it, and then a box, without thinking about it. Nice. Plus, another thing that irritated me about the Kershaw was the way you closed it. The lock was inside the handle, and you moved it aside with your thumbnail, then got your fingers the heck out of the way before you close it up. Not a problem, really, but it was tricky when I was teaching knife safety to cub scouts. (there were no injuries.) The Spyderco has the lockswitch on the back of the handle, so you can put your fingers across the back of the blade, push the lockswitch with the other hand, and, just like the Cub Scout Bears book tells you, safely close the knife. I like that better that the Kershaw, even if opening the Kershaw is totally, totally, really cool.
So, there’s your product review. Spyderco. If you have the extra bucks to spend on a knife, and you have the hand and head for carrying and opening a knife the way I do, then they’re great. Worth returning to, even after years. I attest to that. Their steel is Japanese, and their logo looks more like a tick to me than a spider, and now you have all the details. Looking for a pocketknife? Look close- there are imitators of Spyderco, with spider or ticklike logos and everything. Spyderco’s a good choice. I will not attest to the cheap knockoffs.
Oh. And I now wear one of those clever multi-use Gerbers on my PFD. I’m not risking a good Spyderco on the river any more.
KNO3 sent this in. It’s all in Russian, and I don’t read Cyrillic letters, so I can’t tell you what the heck they’re talking about. I can assume it’s a sales pitch, as some of the funnier things I can imagine happening DON’T happen in this video. And the music is awfully serious.
This looks like some pretty good homespun tech going on. I say what we do is show the video to a bunch of Swiss engineers and tell them that they probably couldn’t build anything better. In the space of a few months, they’d have it down to a two-kilo racing vehicle that hovers a good two feet up and also folds neatly into its own case. In red anodized finish. Then, we find those trials bike guys in Scotland and tell ‘em THEY can’t find a way to ride it up and over, say, a smallish mountain and the roofs of the town on top thereof. Then we bring whatever they invent over to the United States, have Mountain Dew sponsor a big race on these things, and pretty soon, China will be producing them for SportSmart to sell at a price we can all afford.
I try to keep a knife in my pocket. They’re handy things. Especially the swiss army variety. Paint cans? FedEx box? Sweatpants drawstring knotted up and you’ve gotta get to the restroom in a timely fashion? Always a good use for a handy pocket knife.
After losing a dozen or so knives for one reason and another, you start to learn what knives you like and which ones didn’t quite work out.
Free knife you get for subscribing to Outside magazine? Toolbox knife. Free keychain knife from the insurance guy- with little fingernail file on it and a wobbly blade? In the junk drawer next to the computer. Fancy foldaway lockblade with multicolor handle that you found in the field where all the soccer and ultimate frizbee games are held? Kitchen random drawer until you can go get the weird tool it takes to tighten the whole thing back up until it’ll close again.
The best ones to keep in your pocket? The aforementioned Swiss Army is a fine choice, but my latest Swiss Army tool, is, alas, lost. Just like the three before it. I’ll replace it, but it’ll be a while until I really get stuck wishing I had one, then I’ll go splurge.
Of course, I’ll find the lost one a week later. Having two, I’ll lose both within a month.
For a long while, I kept a Kershaw Onion in my pocket. I had a nice one. Gray handle that weathered up to something adventurous looking really well, and it had a short blade with serrations at the bottom. The switch to pop out the blade was very handy. You could get it out of your pocket and open it one handed while holding whatever you wanted to cut with the other hand. Because, let’s face it, you always have the thing you want to cut in your hand and positioned perfectly before you know you want to cut it, so the one handed thing… important.
Before the Kershaw (and currently) I kept a Spyderco. But that’s another story.
With the Kershaw, I learned how to keep a knife without losing it. After losing the first one, anyhow.
You break it.
Yes, if you snap the tip off a knife, making it fractionally less useful, the knife then decides it’s worth staying with you.
The trick, then, is to decide what you’re going to do with that broken knife so that you can continue to keep it in your pocket and therefore can save the tidy little sum you know it’ll cost to put a decent knife back in that pocket.
You could do the rescue/multi-tool thing and use the broken end as a screwdriver. It’s not ideal. One edge of the blade is thin as… a blade, and the other is slightly too fat to make a good screwdriver. Wobbly screwdrivers suck. This option sucks.
You could go down to the basement and hook up various power tools and regrind the whole end of the broken knife into a different kind of blade.
You know, a less useful kind.
But! It’s back to being a knife! You pop it open one handed, and those boxes are easy to open again!
And your manly self image isn’t, y’know, impaired by the teeny little blade left in the now-oversized handle. Not at all.
So here it is: The knife I have not lost yet!
You can click on it a time or two to enlarge it. So the po’ ol’ blade doesn’t seem so… little.
See that switch on the back of the knife? That opens it- click! Like a switchblade. The lock is down in the handle, so to close it takes two hands, unless you can work it around in your hand, put your thumbnail in the body, and simultaneously press the back of the blade forward enough, on your leg or against a box or a workbench or something, to pin back the lock but not so much that it closes across your thumb. Then after you’ve moved your fingers out of the way, close the whole thing and tuck it back in your pocket. There’s a clip on the other side for hanging it on the edge of your pocket. A handy thing to do, but it looks silly when you’re wearing a tux or your Sunday-Go-To-Meetings.
I got a Sunday knife for when I wear my suits. It was a Christmas gift. Cute little Buck knife. Two blades. I haven’t had to use it in church, so I haven’t lost that one yet.
Therefore… Kershaw Onion. Good knife. So good I’ve had more than one. On purpose. So good that I have given them as gifts. So good that the last time I went to buy a knife, I had every intention of buying myself a third Onion. (no disrespect to my nice red Onion, but I have occasionally needed a blade with a point on it, and sharpening the fishbelly shaped blade is a pain in the butt.
And the final note. I keep other things in my pocket where the Kershaw is clipped. Those other things occasionally push up against the switch on the back of the knife when I sit, or stand or something. That’s when the knife opens in my pocket. It doesn’t happen often, but often enough to cause some alarm.
It happens, too, if your knife stays clipped to your pocket when the pants go into the laundry. It might go through the wash without opening, and it MIGHT go through the dryer without opening, but not necessarily. And when it’s in the dryer, and open, it’s entirely possible for the tip of the blade to become imbedded in those silicon speed bumps on the dryer drum. When that happens, the tip of that knife gets broken right off. Not only do you have a broken knife, but you have a nasty little bit of metal protruding slightly into the drum of your dryer, ready and waiting to wreck the next load of clothes that need drying.
Then you need a Swiss Army knife with the little pliers in them. Gosh, I should go get one of those. Again. But… the Kershaw’s are so COOL…