Thursday, June 30, 2016

It's not camping

Enviously I have watch some bushcrafters go into the bush either by themselves or with a friend and just have a great time. They put some of their primitive skills to work and they make things work for themselves. After watching this one presenter talk about cheap folding knives and various fixed blade knives he recently took a very modest Victorionix and an ax.

The ax was fine for splitting wood. The blade was sharp enough for making feather sticks and so was the pocket knife. He intentionally left his saw behind. I struggle with deciding what to leave at home. Ideally two 4+ inch knives, a saw and an ax. What processing deadfall to the correct length I need a saw. Using an ax takes a lot of energy and time. And if you're processing hardwood it's going to take longer.

In south Florida we do not have that sort of luxury. First of all this summer seems to be rainy. And when it rains here it really rains. You can watch it rain sideways from time to time. Our critters are dangerous. Huge snakes, alligators and now crocodiles. The occasional cougar and bear. This limits what your campsite can do.
Last year a jogger was dragged into the canal and killed.

My favorite gear is a DC4, CC4, WorkSparp honing rod, Ganzo G738 and a Coast 305lm flashlight. It takes a delicate touch to sharpen a knife with these stones.

hard boiled egg without the boil

I've watched a number of videos where a bushcrafter makes a small hole in the top of an egg and then sets it into the warm embers of a cooling fire. I've also watched videos where users of the bush buddy or stolo stove have handled their stove while a fire was raging telling stories of how it's not hot. OK, it's hot from about 1/3rd from the bottom to the top.

So I got to thinking, can I hard boil an egg [a] without the boil and [b] without the firepit and [c] without the exploding eggs. I built this contraption to [i] chip a hole in the top and mix the contents [ii] hold the egg close to the side of my solo stove.

the contraption
There are two loops. The egg rests in the bottom loop and the top loop hold the egg in place. The rod to the right is used to poke a hole and stir the contents. The length of the down rod is also long enough to reach the grid at the bottom of the solo stove.

the contraption installed

I wish it would have worked. It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to hard-boil and egg, however, after 30 minutes and plenty of twigs the egg was still a mess. Only about the bottom 3rd was cooked. There is a chance that some other type of radiator would have helped.

Review: Mora self comparison

Mora is my fixed blade company of choice for what I need; which is basic camping and bushcraft. As for surviving the great Zombie Apocalypse - that's something I do not know or want to think about.

And so I have developed a collection of Mora knives.

Top: Pathfinder
Left-Right: Robust HQ Carbon, Black Carbon, Companion Carbon, light my fire Stainless, Companion Stainless

Each of these knives is very sharp although the Companion Stainless seemed to be the sharpest from the factory and they are all very pointy. But there are a few things that you might not know so here are some things to note:

  • The pathfinder, Black and light my fire have 90 degree spines for use with fero rods. For the others you'll need to grind the spine, use the blade edge or get a striker.
  • The pathfinder is 8" and the rest are 4". There is some variation in the 4" blades
  • The carbon blades are thicker. Most are 3mm; light my fire is the thinnest and the companion stainless is the median.
  • The blade finish varies across blade type. black, plain or clear coated
The sheaths are quirky. 
  • The robust has a knob so you can biggyback a second knife
  • The black black's belt loop comes with a removable option and will attach without the loop
  • The rest can clip on the robust but they will hang a little lower
  • It's possible to neck carry but I'd recommend a length lanyard
The knives and sheaths are available in a variety of colors, lengths, blade type, materials and lengths. I've decided that I'm not hiding so my knives need to be visible. (poor Joe dropped his invisible camo colored fero rod).

I have not tried the serrated blades and there are a few new blades this year that I hope to evaluate. Of course you ca get the exact specs from the Mora company website as soon as it's updated. The new website is incomplete.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hammock or tent

That's a tough question and here is how it breaks down:
  • solo, companion or kids (individual or shared) - solo or companion camping is easy when you're using a hammock. Having younger kids in a hammock poses a number of security and technical challenges.
  • use the hammock as a chair? Depending on the orientation of the camp you might not need to brink a chair or a log to sit on.
  • trees available - if there are no trees for at least a ridgeline then you're going to be sleeping naked, so to speak.
  • disaster strikes and a pole breaks or a rope snaps - most kits have spare parts or you should be able to make it through the night. Chances are good you have spare cordage.
  • does your pack get wet - when tenting there is a good chance your pack will fit in the tent or you might be using it as a pillow. And if not it's in the vestibule. When using a hammock you might tie it to a tree, directly under your hammock, inside the hammock if there is room... but you have choices.
  • ground conditions - wet is wet.
  • mattress optional - in the right weather and with the right hammock a mattress might not be necessary.
  • 4-season - this could go multiple ways. There are examples of hammock in the winter but for the most part the camper is relying on a good sleeping bag and insulation from a pad as well as proper fly setup.
  • weight - they are close enough except that the tent get's some economy of scale as things are often integrated.
  • no-poles although the poles could be walking sticks and so they are serving multiple roles. Don't lose or break them.
  • cost - hammocks seem to be cheaper than the lightest tents.
One thing I like is choices and here is one combination I want to try:
  • Guardian basecamp bug net - what makes this interesting is that it has a tub-like bottom. This should keep some ground water from getting to you kit
  • House Fly - this fly is 10x10.
combining the two with or without the hammock gives you some choices whether to hang or not but keep in mind that they are considerably heavy at about 5 or 6 lbs.

However, if it's already raining, like it does in Florida, getting that rain fly into position makes the rest of the setup almost dry.

hammock camping

One of the things I like about hammock camping is that they appear to be lightweight and take little room in your pack. Granted there is something to be said about the combination of materials that make up a bivy or a small 1-2 person tent that on the whole it might weight more or less the same. By the time I finish this post I hope to compare a hammock to a 1p tent.

First things first, I'll describe the requirements. capacity of 300lbs or more and mosquito netting. I'm skipping underblankets because I live in Florida and underblankets vary in their insulation factor and cost. I'll skip them. And I will make reference to any rain fly from the same manufacturer just in case.

I will be comparing:

  • Hennessey, these support 350lbs but cost from $250 to $300. Includes everything necessary. And is about 4lbs.
  • Eagles Nest Outfitter (ENO), This model supports 400lbs and comes in three sizes(single $59, double $69 and double deluxe $84). Instead of a net this model is a double with a 6 month repellent treated material $89. Straps $29 and rain fly $79. There is a treated($79) and untreated($59) bug net. (almost 4lbs)
  • Amok, the 330lbs capacity kit costs $400 and weights 4.5lbs. Amok is novel in that the body alignment is 90 degrees to the ridgeline.
  • Snugpak - 10x10 2lbs rainfly $53. Jungle Hammock supports 400lbs and costs $33 includes net. Straps $14
  • and misc Amazon Ohuhu Portable Nylon Fabric Travel Camping Hammock, 115" Long X 55" Wide, 600-Pound Capacity $17 and weight 1lb. straps $12. There other hammock manufacturers but one problem I have with amazon is prime seems to have an unfavorable cost structure. It's in there. And you never know where things are manufactured or when it will arrive.

Hennessey is too expensive
Amok is expensive and non-traditional
Amazon feels too hit and miss regardless of the price
Snugpak is giving me a strange vibe. The same product has two different prices on amazon and they do not seem to sell their hammocks on their site.

So I think the winner is ENO.
OPTION 1: Single $59, fly $79, straps $29, net $50, TOTAL $220.
OPTION 2: jungle nest $99, fly $79, straps $29, TOTAL $210

The jungle nest seems like a nice idea with the integrated netting and while you can turn the hammock over you need to remove the ridgeline. On the otherhand the add-on netting can be replaced with the version that is treated and replaced when necessary. There are a number of other options that I like including the housefly.

UPDATE: ENO offers discount pricing for complete systems like this JungleLink.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

vulcand is dead

You wouldn't know that the project was dead unless you looked at the stale documentation or changelog. And frankly that's a shame because vulcand is smattered all over the CoreOS docs and it seems to be a great idea with the best intentions. There is no doubt that the mailgun team probably uses it or it's libraries to build their own services so in a way I'm jealous that I do not have the insight into the project that their developers have.

What can I say, you're dead to me.

Ten Essentials

I'm not certain who "they" are but they made some recommendations pertaining to the top ten essentials. They also said that they were transitioning from specific recommendations to systems.

  • navigation
  • sun protection
  • insulation
  • illumination
  • nutrition
  • hydration
  • first aid
  • repair kit
  • fire
  • emergency shelter
I'm not sure what they are trying to protect themselves from. By including insulation and sun protection that might suggest a 4-season kit. By naming these systems they are leaving the actual selection up to you. Where I struggle with this list is the overlap with the 5-C's.
  • cut
  • cordage
  • cover
  • container
  • combustion
These are no less "systems", however, by saying CUT it's clear you need a knive, saw and/or an ax. A knife could be included but it's closer to 7 degrees instead of obvious. In the 5-C's cover starts with your clothes and expands out from there to include some sort of shelter.

I've been meaning to look into the 7-Cs.

UPDATE - I was watching ALONE Fan Questions and Alan, season 1 winner, was demonstrating how to get your bearing. He said all you needed was a straight stick, a couple of rocks, and time. (see the boy scout manual for the details) But made the point... if you're in survival mode then navigation like that may not be necessary. However, being able to read signs from a distance like a certain type of reed that is only present near water might indicate a river or creak is nearby.

Monday, June 27, 2016

20 things to carry ... maybe not

As I've mentioned a few times; I'm going hiking and I want to take a few things with me. Some things I will check and others I will carry on. There are a few items that I think are sketchy so I have followed up with the TSA directly.

In the meantime I also read this article and while there may be some good advice in there it's also worth putting on your thinking cap or at least shipping your tools instead of checking them. Here is the list this person presented Dec 2014.

Anything I mark with an OK is still subject to change and interpretation from the TSA.
  1. scissors - NOT OK - there isn't any circumstance where this would be ok.
  2. first aid kit - MAYBE depends on what is in it. Needles and scisors are not permitted without a letter from your doctor
  3. 550 paracord - OK, I would be inclined to include a few large zip ties too but that's not my job.
  4. water purification tables - OK
  5. water filter - OK
  6. collapsible water bottle - OK
  7. extra socks - OK
  8. BIC disposable lighter NOT OK, it does not matter how small the flame is there are no circumstances where this would be ok. Don't even try. Plan to buy a new BIC when you get to your destination.
  9. fero rod - NOT OK, I got the details from the TSA directly on this one
  10. cash - MAYBE, depends on how much and whether you are crossing the border or laundering money
  11. silver coins - MAYBE, depends on how much and whether you are crossing the border or laundering money
  12. N95 masks - OK, but is there is anything in the material that might trigger a second look you might get a few strange stares.
  13. hand sanitizer - MAYBE, check the 3-3-1 rules.
  14. bleach wipes - OK
  15. SAS survival guide - OK
  16. subblock - MAYBE, check the 3-3-1 rules.
  17. space blanket - OK, however the blanket will likely trigger a second search of your stuff due to the reflective nature of the blanket.
  18. compass - OK
  19. mini Cree flashlight - OK
  20. Listerine - MAYBE, check the 3-3-1 rules.
Reading this persons post I think it must have been partly sarcastic because some of the choices are simply wrong. Scissors.

going for a walkabout

I have been prep'ing for a 3 hour hike near Mt Rainer with my wife and two young daughters and taking lessons learned from the recent Orlando tragedy and similar events in the mountains I wanted make sure I was ready for what might come our way. Because as innocent as a body of water seems or as well paved as a street or hiking trail might be; animals so not know or follow our rules.

That said I have put together my first ruck. I happen to be using a 30L EarthPak drypak because it's yellow and I imagine highly visible. It's also waterproof and so carrying clothes, poncho, gloves, hats and things that need to be dry until used. I also have my five Cs at the bottom.

One thing I have discovered is that the bag itself is heavy and when I added my Cs it got even heavier.

The contents:
  • 100ft Cordage and 4 zip ties
  • nylon work gloves
  • 4" mora bushknife
  • 10 aluminium stakes
  • 10x10 lightweight tarp with stakes and some cordage
  • 10x10 lightweight blanket
  • reflective blanket
  • 100pc first aid kit
  • 3,5" folding knife
  • 300lm flashlight
  • DC4, CC4 and honing rod
  • a small fatwood, cotton balls, and a yard of jute twine.
The ruck is half full and might weight between 5 and 10 lbs. I'm reminded of Joe Robinet's recent 9-day canoe trip. He carried a similar 60L ruck and he had a tent, sleeping bad, mattress, fishing gear and two or three 1-gallon Ziploc bags with food and snacks. What I'm amazed by is that while there may be one or two things I can get rid of; the bare minimum is still quite voluminous. Everything in and of itself is pretty small. It's the aggregate that is overwhelming.

When the remainder of the gear arrives I'll reevaluate my kit. 

Sunday, June 26, 2016

charcoal lighter fluid or something else; healthy alternatives

Following up on a previous post about my solo stove and the national parks; and my inability to start a fire. Let me add to that a video I watched for removing tree stumps.

I have a huge stump in my backyard that I want to remove. The fastest way to remove the stump is to rent a stump grinder and get to grinding. The easiest way is to pay someone else to do it. But this fellow said that the easiest way to do it myself....
  • drill a bunch of holes from the top down and evenly spaced
  • pour vegetable oil in the holes
  • watch the stump over the next few months topping off the oil (he used a gallon in total)
  • Then he placed a bag of charcoal on top of the stump, opened it up, poured more vegetable oil on the coals, added some loose paper, and then some more oil. It started up right away.
So that got me to thinking. While I was going to make tinder from cotton balls and Vaseline I've decided to transition to cotton or jute twine and hand sanitizer; and now maybe vegetable oil. The benefit is that both hand sanitizer and vegetable oil serve more than one purpose.

And the kicker. Let's compare prices:

Charcoal lighter fluid is volatile. The slightest spark can set off a vapor. Hand sanitizer is much less volatile but has a gel like property not unlike napalm (not that I would know). But vegetable oil is more like a wax.

I like the idea of vegetable oil because it's cheap, not explosive (try squirting lighter fluid on a fire), it's very stable, bio degradable, and if you need to cook you can use it to fry or coat your pots and pans. One other thing... if you use a natural coal or charcoal and vegetable oil then you will not be ingesting chemicals from the lighter fluid etc. Seems to be safer all the way around.

these are my portable oil containers. left: vegetable oil; right: olive oil
One very last point.  I use vegetable oil to coat my blades after use. This prevents them from rusting and unlike honing oil or other petroleum oils I do not have to worry about cleaning them before use in a food prep situation.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Solo Stoves the worst purchase I could have made

Some months back I was unsuccessful building a fire in a proper fire pit. The wood was wet and the humidity was high. I had not read anything on processing wood or prep... now a few months later I have a solo and campfire stove. I've used them to cook and make marshmallows in my backyard. And I've read and watched everything I could on fero rods, friction fires and even some Survivor.

And then it finally set in. We are going for a 3hr hike with the kids and I thought I would make a temporary camp so we could set a tarp, blanket, small fire, and just enjoy the moment. And then in a moment of clarity I decided to check the fire conditions. It has been a particularly dry season and so even though it received 38 inches of rain annually there are forests that are dry meaning no campfires.

You cannot imagine my disappointment.

So while my skills and knowledge are still valuable I won't be using them on this hike. And instead of buying my solo stoves I should have purchased a jetboil or something similar.

Friday, June 24, 2016

sharpening stones

The first sharpening device I had was a rod that came with a cheap kitchen knife set I bought at the grocery. There were no instructions and my knives were never as sharp as when they were unboxed.

Later I bought some Pampered Chef knives with the integrated sharpening case. They were NEVER as sharp as the day I first used them. Now the blades are useless with missing chunks.

Recently I purchased:

  • smith's pocket sharpener
  • worksharp 4-in-1
  • morakniv sharpening thing
  • DC4 and a Nagura after watching Mitch
  • and then after practicing and forming my own opinion I bought a DMT system
  • and at the same time a CC4 and Worksharp honing rod
  • laskey puck
First of all technique:
  • pick your edge's angle depending on it's use. Camping 22.5 and kitchen 18 degrees
  • go slow
  • go slow and even pressure
  • pick a coarseness based on the current edge quality and sharpness
  • always hone and strop
  • if you're going to use your knife to eat then no chemicals
reviewing the tools...

The pocket sharpener was useless. The directions were clear but useless. The device would constantly grab the blade and there were some practical limits to what it would sharpen and how close my holding hand was to the blade. So it was not safe either.

The worksharp was fine but not great. While I was practicing with my DC4 the 4-in-1 was always my fallback and rescued multiple knives. Even as I was waiting for my CC4 and honing rod to arrive I would always use it's honing rod and strop. I have a few complaints trying to sharpen close to the handle or the thumb knob as they continue to hit the guides.

I tried the morakniv sharpener but never really made any progress. There were no directions and while I had tried to use it on different knives and my axes nothing ever worked out. I always seemed to make the knife more dull. Not what I expected from Mora.

Watching Mitch from one of those survival channels and the ALONE series I bought a DC4 and a Nagura. I was instructed to use spit and the Nagura to make a slurry. Well, Fallkniven says no water or oil. Use them dry. And then Mitch said to use the Nagura directly on the blade which contradicts almost everything else I've read and watched. 

The DMT system helped me recover a few blades. The process is pretty fast but there are limits to the thickness and length of the blade. While I learned a few things it might have been a useless purchase. I also think that the packaging could have been made more portable for field work instead of what looks like desktop.

The CC4 arrived and surprised me in that the grit was way over the top. While I still plan to use a honing rod there is something magical about a 150,000 grit stone. I've hit the sweet spot at the moment. While I have not tried the DMT manually I'm feeling the confidence to combine the kits.


  • smith's pocket sharpener (??)
  • worksharp 4-in-1 (??)
  • morakniv sharpening thing (??)
  • DC4 and a Nagura(6000)\
  • DMT system(325/600/1200/8000)
  • and at the same time a CC4(15,000/150,000) and Worksharp honing rod
  • laskey puck(??)
I still have not made my final decision but I have decided to take my time and use my down time to sharpen my tools.... very... slowly. Although the DC4, CC4 and honing rod are making me happy.

sharpening stones

The first sharpening device I had was a rod that came with a cheap kitchen knife set I bought at the grocery. There were no instructions and my knives were never as sharp as when they were unboxed.

Later I bought some Pampered Chef knives with the integrated sharpening case. They were NEVER as sharp as the day I first used them. Now the blades are useless with missing chunks.

Recently I purchased:

  • smith's pocket sharpener
  • worksharp 4-in-1
  • morakniv sharpening thing
  • DC4 and a Nagura after watching Mitch
  • and then after practicing and forming my own opinion I bought a DMT system
  • and at the same time a CC4 and Worksharp honing rod
  • laskey puck
First of all technique:
  • pick your edge's angle depending on it's use. Camping 22.5 and kitchen 18 degrees
  • go slow
  • go slow and even pressure
  • pick a coarseness based on the current edge quality and sharpness
  • always hone and strop
  • if you're going to use your knife to eat then no chemicals
reviewing the tools...

The pocket sharpener was useless. The directions were clear but useless. The device would constantly grab the blade and there were some practical limits to what it would sharpen and how close my holding hand was to the blade. So it was not safe either.

The worksharp was fine but not great. While I was practicing with my DC4 the 4-in-1 was always my fallback and rescued multiple knives. Even as I was waiting for my CC4 and honing rod to arrive I would always use it's honing rod and strop. I have a few complaints trying to sharpen close to the handle or the thumb knob as they continue to hit the guides.

I tried the morakniv sharpener but never really made any progress. There were no directions and while I had tried to use it on different knives and my axes nothing ever worked out. I always seemed to make the knife more dull. Not what I expected from Mora.

Watching Mitch from one of those survival channels and the ALONE series I bought a DC4 and a Nagura. I was instructed to use spit and the Nagura to make a slurry. Well, Fallkniven says no water or oil. Use them dry. And then Mitch said to use the Nagura directly on the blade which contradicts almost everything else I've read and watched. 

The DMT system helped me recover a few blades. The process is pretty fast but there are limits to the thickness and length of the blade. While I learned a few things it might have been a useless purchase. I also think that the packaging could have been made more portable for field work instead of what looks like desktop.

The CC4 arrived and surprised me in that the grit was way over the top. While I still plan to use a honing rod there is something magical about a 150,000 grit stone. I've hit the sweet spot at the moment. While I have not tried the DMT manually I'm feeling the confidence to combine the kits.


  • smith's pocket sharpener (??)
  • worksharp 4-in-1 (??)
  • morakniv sharpening thing (??)
  • DC4 and a Nagura(6000)\
  • DMT system(325/600/1200/8000)
  • and at the same time a CC4(15,000/150,000) and Worksharp honing rod
  • laskey puck(??)
I still have not made my final decision but I have decided to take my time and use my down time to sharpen my tools.... very... slowly. Although the DC4, CC4 and honing rod are making me happy.

GDC - gerber daily carry

I really like my Ganzo. It was a recommendation made by Joe Robinet. In the meantime I  have destroyed the blade trying to freehand sharpen it... and I've also managed to partially recover the blade; but that's another story. In the meantime I wanted a second blade preferably one with a glass break but the only vendor on Amazon is taking weeks to deliver. So I've given up on them.

Fast forward I was also looking for a US made EDC and Gerber is one of those quintessential US brand names. They are also branding Bear Grylls a decidedly non-american. But Les Stroud was taken and also non-American. 

And so was born GDC. Gerber Daily Carry.

My understanding is the green ring is part of the GDC branding and as such there may be a few things missing here like the money clip. I'll not be reviewing the Gerber website. So let's look at these items.
  • belt tool- I guess it's for the person who wants to be branded GDC. The buckle and the belt are integrated. And since there is such a high contrast between the tool and the buckle your tool is not very stealthy
  • The zipper pull tools are just that. I suppose the knife or flashlight would work with my car key because I do not have a key ring but that thread is very thin and WILL work it's way off any keyring. I have yet to discover if or why I might need all 4 and where I would put them. By the time I attached them to my keyring I might as well get a Victorinox or a Leatherman.
  • The hook knife seems very sensible so long as it stays in it's sheath until called into action. I'm not sure how well it works when needed to cut a seat-belt and you have RF ignition. Deciding where to put your keys could be critical.
  • I like my Victorinox pocket knives. I usually keep it in my pocket with my wallet. I never put it in the pocket with my phone because the knife's metal parts could scratch the screen. So the Gerber folding pocket knife is practical in that it's rubberized with not exposed metal parts and it has a much larger blade. 
** there is a money clip, not pictured, without considering the blade and the sheath the money clip is very think.

In conclusion I think this line of products is a dud. The best two items are are not any more functional than my existing tools which include a tweezers and a toothpick.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Rancher - not smooth enough

I really want to use Rancher. Rancher rounds many of the edges I get with OpenStack, VMware, VirtualBox and others. Of course you have to decide whether you want to push around containers or push around an OS with package managers and scripts. In my opinion both Docker and Rkt are preferred.

Rancher is supposed to give yo a console similar to vSphere or vCloud. I'm not sure I care and I think I'd be happy with a CLI implementation.

In the meantime I have a number of moving parts that I call requirements. [a] I need to have gitlab running in the environment [b] a private registry [c] and drone or jenkins. I tried to launch gitlab according to the catalog description but it failed. I just do not have enough information whether it's in the package or Rancher I do not know. But it is not as simple as I had hopped for.

Day hike

I was thinking about taking my family on a day hike in the Olympic National Forrest but as I started to review my 5-C's and my BOB-Essentials I quickly lost track of the cost of my Day Hike kit.

  • cut
  • cordage
  • cover
  • container
  • combustion
Keeping strictly to the 5 without redundancy I found:
  • light my fire Mora and Steel $27
  • 550 paracord $6
  • 10x12 ft tarp $5
  • Nalgene 32oz bottle $11 and a 96oz bag $18
  • The light my fire includes a fero rod but I would probably add some Jute twine $3
So for $70 I have an almost complete survival pack without the pack. I selected a $34 nylon folding pack for shipping reasons and not ruggedness. Free shipping with Amazon prime and I'm at $104. From a survival perspective there are a few missing items:
  • ax and a saw
  • rain gear and personal blankets or a tent
  • stainless bottle or pot to create water
But now thinks get complicated because it's a day hike and we have to consider the forest conditions before starting a campfire or lighting a Solo-Stove. And so some items get moved around.
  • don't need the ax, saw, stainless pots or solo stove. I was wrong about that. If the hike turns survival then you'll need these tools.
  • need to add a water filtration system $19
  • should change our single backpack to two Sea To Summit waterproof duffel with side pockets. They are waterproof, float and we can share the load. $29x2
  • compass $12, watch, cellphone, power bank
  • firstaid kit $14x2
  • map ??
  • work gloves $13
  • proper clothing ??
  • gorilla tape $6
  • tent stakes $10
  • survival blankets $4x4
  • sporks $7, cups $19, bowls $12, utensils $11 
  • jetboil $150
  • Bandana $6x2 and schmog $2x2
  • toilet paper and wipes
  • shovel
  • food
  • flashlights and headlights
  • bearbag
There is a bunch more missing here and/or some thoughts to be made. A couple of keys to consider; since this is not a survival situation then making a campfire is not really an option. Something like a jetboil is a requirement. This also means that your meals should be limited to simple dehydrated meals so that I do not waste water and fuel cooking noodles. Even though this is a 4 hour hike [a] plan for an overnight [b] have a few extra meals.

Before you tell me I'm exaggerating... I know I am. This is part of the exercise however there is some common sense. Having never hiked or walked in the woods for an hour or two getting out can be a challenge. As one Canadian hiker put it; the way out looks completely different than the way in. And of course there's always the weather.

And then I found this from the forest service:

And so I started thinking. Just how silly is all of the over thinking? Well, firstly hat family in Orlando whose 2 year old was killed by an Alligator. I've lived in Florida for 37 years or more. When I was approximately 13 years old I swam in those waters. I was also new to Florida. At the same time I was jumping my BMX bike into the canals behind my house and in the Everglades. Years later I developed a healthy fear of the canal water way. And within the last 3 years multiple joggers have been attacked along the main canal from the ocean to the Everglades.

Given that the location for my hike is in unfamiliar territory a few precautions would be warranted. Maps, weather forecast, wildlife review, food and food prep strategies, water sources, proper clothing and spares, and some consideration for the 5-C's.

I do not feel as silly as I once did.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

where is my private browser based IDE?

I have a few requirements for a browser based IDE:

  • git, mercurial, and/or fossil support
  • browser based robust IDE
  • running in a docker container in my datacenter or in my DEV server
  • and optionally CI/CD integration
There are many browser based IDEs to choose from and some of them are awesome. Cloud9 and nitrous come to mind. I don't mind paying for it although the price needs to be reasonable and I would like to be able to collaborate too. There is something to be said about running an IDE in a remote system but there are many drawbacks. Any promise of security comes to mind.
If you're in this business and you're listening... you need to make a container version available that I can run in my private servers with the same cost structure as the public cloud offering. You cannot protect me or my source. My environment may or may not container production information or data that is private and I'm certain your TOS is meant to protect you and not me.
So in the order that these IDEs are listed in my browser:

Komodo IDE - looks hella cool but it is not browser based.

Codiad - this is the first candidate, however, if I recall the IDE is kinda weak and the "build" features are weak. There are docker registry entries but it will take some research to see if there is a trusted version.

Codio - has promise, however, the cost is $700/yr and that's more than I want to pay. It also seems to be more curriculum based.

Codepad - does not seem to be an IDE

Screenhero - looks like a nice add-on to slack but that has nothing to do with my IDE.

Codebox - seems to be dead

Codeshare - collab not IDE

Kobra - more collab

Nitrous - public web only.

Koding - it's not very clear what they are offering and whether the tools would run as expected. It appears that it's public only but even so the homepage leave me with an aftertaste.

Codenvy - is an odd sort. The pricing model is expensive and in the end they use the eclipse IDE. While it's java and makes me crazy there is no reason not to go directly to eclipse. (based on eclipse che) Here is a link to the registry entry.

ShiftEdit - is the cheapest of the paid-for IDEs but it does not seem to be a complete IDE and while the code is hosted on their site you are providing credentials to your own site for which they may or may not be a man in the middle. It's a common model/problem.

Codeanywhere - is the second cheapest IDE. I've used it before and I liked it for what it was. I though there was an on-premise option but that does not seem to be the case.

Cloud9 - is probably my favorite. It is the best thought and implemented browser based IDE... but there is no on-premise option and it's not cheap.

Orion - looks pretty limited for what it is

Eclipse Che - taking or building this app from the source is just not an option. I suppose there is a binary from the eclipse team but even that makes me uneasy. I suppose a container from the eclipse team would be nice. For the trouble it will be to install and setup I'd rather pay for it.

dirigible - just APIs

In conclusion non of my choices are brilliant. I'll try the codenvy container version and see what happens but I'm not holding my breath. Good luck to me.

UPDATE - that sucked.  The eclipse che project did not install properly from docker hub. Once the sock permissions were obliterated there was a version mismatch between the client and server.

Amazon is not the low cost leader

I know this is not Amazon's problem but check this out. I was looking for a tarp/rain-fly and not making any progress because the price and it's weight seem to be related. The biggest and lightest rainflys sell for more than $150. Tarps, on the other hamd, are heavy and meant for more permanent structures. So when I found this one I was pretty excited even thought I wanted a different color and slightly larger still. And that was when the price was $68 on amazon.

After I had added it to my wishlist I kept searching and returning to Amazon time and again. And then it happened. I noticed it was actually being sold through Woot. I'd been a fan of Woot in the early days so why not check it out. And so I did.

It's the exact same product and $10 cheaper including shipping. What's particularly annoying about this is that Amazon is Woot's parent company so why not offer the same price?

I wish I knew what this was all about. I like to order on Amazon 'cause everything is about a click away. Amazon Prime, however, is not as good as it gets.

Rebuilding a Modern Datacenter

If you had to build a new and modern small enterprise datacenter what would you do? VMware, OpenStack, or baremetal with containers, appscale, appengine, heroku, cloud foundry ...?

I like VMware because it's rock solid. As a company they seem responsive and proactive. If you install VMware on trusted ready hardware then things just work. Unfortunately things also get expensive. There are also a few failures there too. For example VMware's orchestration does not like chatty systems as it favors long running and casual deploys.

I cannot say enough bad things about OpenStack. In the end mgmt was drawn to it because it was a shiney new and presented as free alternative to VMware. In the end it was not free and might cost as much if not more when you consider it's new and the chex-mix of the IT world. Someone always spits out the peanuts.
And yet you have to support it all. OPS people might not have been drawn to it at first but then after all that time spent learning and creating tools they have a vested interest in it's success. Kinda like agile consultants.

Containers are the new kid on the block. They are the shiniest of the precious things. The problem is that groups are going in every direction trying to get market share. Kubernetes is interesting as it's part of Google's internals but what is their play?But then again who really needs to get to google scale except google. There are a number of scheduling and orchestration tools out there besides. There are even challengers in the container market from systemd, coreos, nix and docker.

appscale and appenge have a bit of a lockin but adding resources is probably the easiest of the bunch. The number of APIs are limited and the touchpoints between the service and the API is minimal.

And then the others.

What would you do?

how to get your knife very sharp

I've been watching videos for weeks now and each is about as boring as the one prior. Many begin and end in different places and while the demo knife is sharp enough to kill a piece of paper there are often times only partial explanations.

First and foremost, know your tools. At this moment I have a Faulkniven DC4, Nagura, and a worksharp 4-in-1. And I have no idea what the ratings are... and this is an important point.... because I have a Faulkniven CC4, WorkSharp ceramic rod and DMT 300, 600, 120, 8000 sharpening kit on order. On the one hand it's all a waste of money but I'm trying to increase my awareness and understanding.

I think starting at the beginning means starting at the end. How should we define sharpness without a machine which can measure it, or observer the blade angles and the materials with some sort of formula... contrary to a previous post where I criticize blogger and vloggers for killing forests; they just never explained what they were doing.

The paper test can actually be very valuable, however, it's important do a few things. [a] There are multiple angles(front to back and left to right) and they should be consistent for each test. [b] choose a reasonable paper and be consistent; the closer to card stock or tissue paper the less the feedback. While you'll not be able to put a number on the sharpness you'll know if it's getting sharper and if it's sharp enough. (I do not know what shaving sharp feels like and whether or not I would shave with a blade I sharpened).

I define "sharp" as being able to push or pull the blade through my paper at a slow speed through the entire length of the blade; and I should be able to make paper feathers about the thickness of a hair; with a clean cut and no tears.
It finally dawned on me that while the pros I criticized were hacking at paper they were in a full combat swing while I was to make snowflakes. I could sharpen a brick and cut paper with their method. 
By saying the complete length of the blade that means that the dullest part of the bade meets the minimal sharpness I'm looking for. This is an analog process so uniform perfection is a goal but not likely.

Preface; I initially wrote the next paragraph first and I realized I was missing one extra important point. If the knife is an heirloom, blade of historical importance, or just really expensive that damaging it would create sadness or a hardship then stop reading and go to a pro. I'm not guying a $500-$1000 knife but if I did then I would not be sharpening it. On the otherhand if it's a Mora or similar then continue.

To start; is the blade nicked or damaged? Are you planning to change the angle? All the professionals say that you need to start with a coarse or extra-coarse stone. I have a damaged Schrade Bowie knife that I want to repair but I have experience yet. I think if the blade is in this condition I would want a pro to fix it. I might go too far in the wrong direction and if I paid a lot of money for the knife it's not the sort of thing I'd want to do.

Evaluate; is the blade sharp at all? If the blade is not sharp then you should start with the coarse stone.

Observe and take note; before you start sharpening you need to take note of your blade's angle. That usually means putting the blade on the stone and adjusting the angle until there is no space between the blade edge and the stone. Take note from the back and side the angle so that you can try to be consistent. When sharpening it almost preferred to monitor the edge instead of the angle except when honing or stroping.

I do not know what the best angles are for the different knifes. My worksharp sharpens at 18, hones 25, and stops at 28. Or something like that. One pro said, put the knife at a 90 degree angle, then divide by 2, then by 2 again and that is about 22 degrees.

Lubrication; this is hard. If you're going to use the knife in food prep or consumption then a good cleaning is important, especially if you're going to use non-bio oils or honing paste. I use spit, water, vegetable or olive oil. But mostly nothing at all.

Stroke; There are two parts to the stroke. [a] pressure [b] The number of strokes per side of the blade [c] motion.

The pressure should be light.  The harder the stroke the deeper the stone will gauge into the blade. It will never be smooth, translate sharp, and it will require a lot more work to restore.

There are a number of counts and strategies but my latest comes from "101". He recommended one stroke per blade side; listen to and feel the blade. You should be able to feel and hear an uneven burr on the blade. You want the burr to be consistent along the length of the blade. I discovered/realized this just a few minutes ago as I was honing my blade on a ceramic rod.

The motion of the stroke whether it's circles, push, pull or other have their champions. Since I'm not a metallurgist or a pro I do not have a strong opinion, however, I watched a Japanese master sharpener use different techniques for different blade types. I think that by the time you get to an 8000 grit or higher, then honing and stropping the "grain" cause by earlier stones has less meaning.

Stroke Count; The initial stroke count is difficult to gauge. I think it's the number of strokes it takes so that the angle is consistent across the entire length of the blade. I do not think that the initial stroke count has any usefulness, however, subsequent courses should be a grit based multiple of the previous number of strokes. The purpose being to erase the grain from the previous course.

initial stroke count = 6; grit = 300
this grit = 600; therefore this stroke count = 600/300 * 6 or 12 strokes
this grit = 1200; therefore this stroke count = 1200/600 * 12 or 24 strokes
this grit = 8000; therefore this stroke count = 8000/1200 * 24 or 160 strokes
honing 320 strokes
stroping 640

**Mors M. said stroping 320 was sufficient so it's possible that my new 8000 grit stone is actually better than the ceramic honing rod and so the stroping count would go back to 320.

Honing; I don't know what this means. I imagine it's just another grit level. I have ceramic rods and honing steels in the kitchen. The honing steels have only damaged my kitchen knives. They seem to have a very coarse grit where the ceramic is much higher. My 8000 grit stones are in the mail so I'm using my ceramic hot and it really makes the difference before I use my crappy 4" strop. I would prefer not to have a honing rod.

Stroping; Some pros describe that there is a very small and soft leftover burr; and it needs to be removed. I imagine that's true. Personally when I go to the barber he uses a long leather strap with long deliberate strokes. This stroke is meant to heat the blade, with friction, and remove the burr. Barbers have been doing this for centuries and there is no reason to think anything to the contrary. The notion that a short 4in piece of leather is going to have the same effect is insulting. Granted we are talking able shaving sharp.

Many bushcrafters have said that sometimes all that a knife needs is a good stroping.

That's it. I'm done.

Monday, June 20, 2016

you do not know what sharp is

I've been watching "how to sharpen your knife videos" and there is a lot in common.

  • choose an angle
  • stroke until there is a burr along the entire edge
  • if you cannot get the burr then switch sides
  • when you finally get the burr start counting, alternating and reducing the strokes
  • start with coarse only if the edge is damaged
  • use a ceramic rod between grit and strop
places where they differ
  • sharp when you can cut paper
  • sharp when you can shave your arm hair
  • how many strops strokes
  • how fast to strop
  • how much pressure against the stone
  • care for the stone
  • water, bio-oil, honing oil or none at all
One thing all these videos have is that they cut paper. Usually an 8.5" x 11" is torn to shreds like an Errol Flynn movie. One fellow even cut a paper towel. What's next a tissue?

Let's look at the following pictures. These images are taken from my test paper with 4 different knives. Mora Companion, Schrade42D, Mora Black, Ganzo 738. Two of these knives have never been used and two I sharpened using everything I know and own. (DC4, Nagura, WorkSmart 4-1). Each of these cuts is thinner than the thickness of a dime. And some feathers have been thinner than a human hair (not pictured)

I don't know if my sharpness tests are a true test but I know for certain that it took a while to get these right and yet I've come to the conclusion that sharpness is only part of the equation. There are two attack angles for the blade to the paper. There is the pressure into the paper and the speed of the stroke. While I was tinkering with my Schrade bowie knife I was able to create a few of these paper feathers but VERY inconsistently.

Only one presenter said, of sharpening his ax with a Lansky puck stone, it just needs an edge that it can hold. Since he did not paper test the ax I assume he meant that the paper test was superfluous.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

"now what that does" is the new "so"

A Ted talker once said that the word 'so' was use by technical people as a power word. One to inject a pause and a sense of authority. And while I was watching a bushcraft video the young presenter said "now what that does" and I about fell out of my chair, stopped the video, and started writing about it. I suppose there were so many different ways to write the transition and so that was his choice.

I know I'm being a little critical since he's probably not a screenwriter and it seems spontaneous. But there is something to be said about trying to generate credibility... So when I write tech posts I try hard to make sure that my transitions are smooth, easy and fun to read.

Have fun with the video.

where was my knife made

One of the things I hate about Amazon is that you can never tell where a thing comes from. Was it manufactured or sold in the US or some other country? In particular I purchased some cordage which, after the fact, took nearly a month to arrive because it was coming from the APAC.

Now recently I started looking for a new EDC knife and as I was looking at the Gerber site I determined that not all of their knives are made in the US. So I started looking for a folding knife that was US made and the first stop was Gerber. It seems that only two modes are made in the US and they cost $150 and $350 respectively. I agree that part of the cost is due to the high-end nature of the individual knives and the other part is labor. I supposed there is nothing wrong with that too, The sad reality is that the US knives are beyond my price range and a competitive knife will probably be crappy as they have to cut corners somewhere.

SOGs new knives for 2016 are in the same vein. They have a few more models than Gerber but they are mostly $100+. I watched a 2016 new model presentation and I was embarrassed for them. I supposed they could be the Rolls Royce of folding knives, however, if it cannot tie my shoes or butter my toast they cannot justify the price. I might feel differently if I had one in my BOB but not right now.

Kershaw was a complete surprise. While they are a subsidiary of a Japanese company they make their knives in the US. In fact their website features a filter that includes "made in the USA".

That's what I call confidence. I could not tell the difference before and after the filter. But when I started applying filters to make the search comparable the prices were at least double the cost of my Ganzo.

Columbia River Knife and Tool seems to be an exciting company. They make a number of interesting products, however, while there are some product descriptions that say Made in the USA there are other that say nothing.

** one feature that seems to be adding considerable cost is the assisted open. Are people really that lazy?

Friday, June 17, 2016

Review: Morakniv Bushcraft Pathfinder

I really like Mora's knives. Granted I have not tried anything outside their bushcraft brand but so be it. In recent days I have been practicing my sharpening skills and frankly that's just another center of pain but that's also another story. However, while practicing my sharpening skills I have also been testing my blades and sharpness gauging (very unscientific paper cutting, hair shaving and feathersticking).

So it's time to talk about my Mora collection and the first one up is the pathfinder. I like the pathfinder in that it's a 6.75" blade and in the saw+big blade+utility blade (meaning no ax) configuration it can do some chopping although it does not have much mass and certainly some splitting where you'd hate to damage your utility knife.

While my reviews are not meant to compare the good and bad of the different knives... My Bowie is nearly 10" and my Schrade F37 is a mere 6"... and the Mora pathfinder is actually 6.75". The usable blade on the bowie and F37 is short of the handle and the Mora goes all the way to the handle. And looking at my sharpening systems I have no idea if that's meaningful but each of the knives look like they are about to give something up.


  • sharp scandi grind
  • long
  • lightweight
  • carbon steel
  • sheath
  • long
  • lightweight
  • carbon steel
  • sheath attach points
There is a lot of overlap here. And as I always do I'm going over the CONs because you already like the blade.

If you consider the using the knife for feathering then you'll probably find yourself using the portion of the knife closest to the handle. This is because the further from your hand you use the knife for work the harder the work is. Anyone who has watched Schoolhouse Rocks knows a thing or two about leverage and leavers. So unless you have arms like Arnold or you work with softwood you'll want a shorter blade. I'm waiting for the Eldris to hit the market.

The blade is very light. as a result I do not see how it can be used for chopping except for some vegitation or maybe some cooking. Also since this knife does not come with a cordage hole it might be dangerous to chop from the end of the handle.

Going back and looking at my collection of Mora knives I see that the carbon blades are thinker than the stainless blades. This is not a bad thing but I am noticing that the ... at first glance I thought the width if the cutting portion of the blade was the same for both the stainless and carbon was the same. Given the thickness of the respective blades that would mean the cutting angles were different. Well, I was wrong and I was wrong. The are different heights and I imagine the difference is based on the blade thickness.

I do not particularly like the wood I have for making feathersticks so I have to suffer in silence until I can get and process more wood. (not a common need in Florida) but the thickness of the blade does effect the ability to make a feather. It's because the actual distance between the wood, the edge and the outer most point of the spine of the blade is exaggerated due to the thickness of the blade. And then there is the coating, sharpening and rust thing. 
I just do not have a victorinox that has ever rusted.
Lastly the sheath. I don't know what to make of it. I think I was hoping that it would snap in like my smaller Mora knives. Maybe it would have a sharpening stone like the Schrade F37. And while I dislike some of the Velcro systems this one seems geared for a pack instead of a carry. The sheath insert and the strapping seems cheap and heeding warnings about sand and foreign object dulling the blade; and let's not forget the drain hole. Right now I do not have a ruck to attach it to so it will be loose in my sharps box.

Mora makes such pretty knives I really hate to use them. Even though they are very inexpensive I had to dull or damage any of them. This one has to get a workout soon. If I can chip the bowie I can the Mora... after all it was meant to be used.

It appears that Amazon is actually selling older or possibly popular Mora goods. I suppose there are a number of possible reasons... but I have my eye out. For a few new products.
  • Eldris - short little neck carry with lanyard holes
  • Kansbol - looks like a companion but with a multi-mount option and a lanyard hole
  • Garberg - full tang with multi-mount
  • Tactical fine edge (I do not like serrated edges at all)
UPDATE 2016-06-21 - I went back to my trystick this morning and I gave the pathfinder another featherstick challenge and I rediscovered that there is a point on the blade that I favor for feathering and that as soon as I start to saw (pull) my forearm starts to get tired. I assume that it's because the position I've chosen is a perceived balance point. If so I might actually perform better closer to the handle.

But then I noticed a few more things. The wood I'm using is precut commercial firewood which I processed, however, while it's a hardwood it's also not straight and so it's much harder to feather. After I carved a straighter version of my trystick I produced a better featherstick much more quickly. So that was reassuring.

One thing that gives me joy is that this knife is create at chopping. Using my anvil I was able to chop a respectable stake in no time at all. It's a task the 4.1in blades would never do.

Given the 8.1in length of the blade I had and still have not tried batoning; as soon as I process a little more wood I'll make a point of setting aside piece big enough for a mallet.

Review: Benchmade HK Knives Ally Knife

There are a couple of things to like about this knife but not enough as an EDC.


  • lightweight
  • low profile
  • smooth one handed open
  • with caution a one handed close
  • reasonable blade length for an EDC
  • glass break
  • serrated edge
  • chamfered blade spine and lock release is uncomfortable
  • no edge for fero rod
  • don't leave it in a hot car
  • grip
Let me detail the CONs because if you already like the knife there is no reason to look passed that.

I take issue with the serrated edge because it's just one more thing that needs to be cared for. If you've ever sharpened a knife to near razor sharpness now you have two blades to sharpen. Yes, it's just more work and plenty to do with your down time in your tent. **I did a featherstick test with my HK and it worked nicely. It grabbed the wood and created multiple feathers with each stroke. I then created grooves in the wood that made the finer feathers. Re-positioning the blade from stroke to stroke was a little more challenging and required more practice. I'm just saying that a serrated edged was not any more or less functional.

The chamfer on the blade is deep making it uncomfortable with a tight grip. And the chamfer on the lock-release both in the grip and when releasing the blade lock.

Simply put the spine of the blade is powder coated and lacks a 90 degree edge so the only way to strike a fero rod is with the blade edge. I guess that's OK but it's a sensibility thing for me.

It's a metal skeleton frame so it's going to get hot in your car. I suppose that's kinda contra-indicated when you consider that there is glass break... let's just hope you don't drop it when you need it most.

And lastly the grip... it's not a full sized knife and so the grip is going to be awkward. There are clearly two normal grips. [a] forefinger in a channel on the blade and [2] just behind that position and [3] as a chopper but you better have a lanyard for safety.

It's a well made knife that is better as a letter opener than an EDC.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


I've printed this sheet and put it in my ruck. While I've been practicing every once in a while I need a reminder.

The names of the knots are:
  • prusik - used to slide the knot along the ridge line
  • backhanded hitch -  this type of knot let's you tighten the ridge line because the working end works almost like a pully. I've also used a taut-line hitch
  • timber hitch - meant for the static side of the ridge line. I also use the bowline
  • bowline - for attaching to gromets
  • taut-line hitch - for the adjustable tension side of the tie-down
  • reef knot - joining two segments
  • fisherman's and double fisherman's - joining two rope segments

Monday, June 13, 2016

learning new tricks with vim

I have tried many times to learn emacs and each time I am reminded that in the early word processing days there was WordStar and everyone else. The best features in WordStar were [a] started fast [b] handled he largest files [c] key strokes made sense. For example; marking the beginning and end of a block was: CTRL+K - B ... move the cursor and then CTRL+K - E to set the end of the block. Now when I look at vi/vim I get these same experiences. Sorry emacs not even your vi emulation mode is good enough.

And so I learned something new about vim this morning.  I had to search and replace multiple times over the same selection of code and for years I would just reselect the code in the manual way. A quick google search returned a hella cool key sequence I was not aware of.

g v

This key combination will reselect the previous visual selection.

sharpening stones

I was watching a bushcraft demonstration of sharpening a bushcraft knife using a Nagura and  DC4. And having no appreciable skills sharpening knives I bought these stones right away.

In the demo my mentor used the DC4, and a little spit to create a slurry from the Nagura. And after he was finished he wiped the DC4 on his pant leg and said one could use the Nagura directly on the blade. As I started sharpening my EDCs I noticed that the Nagura was getting stained. Luckily I bought the stone on Amazon and there is a way to ask questions from the seller.

From what I understand from the seller's response the slurry was the right approach. There is a need to keep the Nagura flat. Then again that might mean using a second stone to keep the Nagura flat. It was also recommended that the Nagura be carried in it's box (not with my purchase) or in a ziplock bag.

In the midst of the confusion I also purchased a WorkSharp.

Keeping the blade at the correct angle is simple enough. At some point it should become second nature. It's also small enough that it'll fit in my pack without being a bother. In fact I'll carry both.

Finally, while a different bushcrafter commented that fire was nature's TV he also said that knife sharpening your knife is just one of those things you do with your down time. It's relaxing and calming.

Making your own sharpening stone from sandpaper and carpet tape.

Mors makes the point.... 10 strokes on coarse, 30 strokes on fine, 300 strop. Watch the end of the video, stopping is meant to generate heat which knocks down the floppy bit. Stropping is meant to get the blade shaving sharp. If you can cut paper then skip coarse. a knife can be sharp enough that it cannot bite into the paper.

According to Mors, a sharp blade can last 20hrs. I'm not sure if that means 20hrs of use or just holding for 20hrs. Seems a bit weak that ambient temperature and humidity would dull a blade in 20hrs.

I'm getting some additional comments on the caring for the Nagura stone. Seems that creating the slurry on the DC4 is the way to go. On the other hand Mors demonstrated using double sided carpet tape and some high grit sandpaper to make my own stone. (and a belt as a strop).

Friday, June 10, 2016

Bug Out Bag

A bug out bag is defined as a bag that you might keep in your vehicle or close to the door such that if you have to go into survival mode or at least have the best chance ... you need these things.

The bug out bag shopping list came from this video.

Rule of 3s - Survival
In any extreme situation you cannot survive for more than:
  • 3 minutes without air
  • 3 hours without shelter
  • 3 days without water
  • 3 weeks without food.
The 5 Cs
  • cover
  • cut
  • combustion
  • container
  • cordage
**If you have the technical skills and the time to execute then all you really need is cut and container. You can make everything else depending on the environment. And some tools simply make it easier or are time savers.

I have an amazon BOB List. It's a nearly complete shopping list. It's not the cheapest but it is almost complete in that it's meant for bugging out and not camping. I have a few other lists but no need to be distracted by them. (the wish list does not indicate quantity but there are a few items that need to be duplicated.)


While BOB List was inspired by the video there were a number of things that were missing and in retrospect I think there are a few more. One thing I learned from the History Channel's Alone project is that you gotta have a few days worth of food. MREs are complete and somewhat fun and there are all forts of prepper options out there. Living in Florida they tell us to have 4 days food and water. This is a different type of survival, however, I live near the North New River Canal and the Conservation Levee Greenway. If we have to leave it would be in a hurry and we may or may not have our cars etc...

This is where things get expensive but in the previous list you were prepared to eat the family pet as the end of days was upon you. The reality is the next survival scenario is just a mild inconvenience. But you still have to wait out the storm and so you need some items.

  • food
  • flashlights
  • generate power and or heat - gasoline, biolite stove and solar
  • store power in power bank
  • weather radio
  • walkie talkies
  • amateur radio
  • generator
  • air conditioner
  • cooler(s)
  • water for drinking and flushing
  • maps
  • pens, pencils
  • important numbers
  • family calling tree
  • batteries, rechargeable batteries
  • a daily routine
  • tents, sleeping bags, mattress, sheets, cots
I need to review the NOAA documentation.

Honey who stole my Machete?

My gardener or someone lurking in my backyard stole my machete and it's pissing me off because I need it to trim a tree that just keeps growing back. That aside, the Silky Gomeboy with large teeth was put into service and it's awesome. Any after watching a few more episodes of Alone on  the History channel I think there might be a bigger one that I might like better.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Review: Schrade SCHF42D

As I started outfitting myself for my next unscheduled camping trip I started watching bushcraft videos trying to decide what features I wanted in a knife. With a little foreshadowing many of those check boxes are gone.

Assuming I was going to use a saw and a bushcraft knife to process wood my list looked like:

  • full tang
  • cordage loop
  • non-serrated edge
  • balanced
  • non-folding
  • large blade (5")
At the time I was on the fence between the Mora and the SCHF42D. At the time I was not able to determine if Mora was Morakniv. There were other vendors selling other knives that were so similar and I was already seeing ghosts on eBay and Amazon so I went for a less common route.

In hind-site the blade is coated but it's not textured so there is no additional friction but the blade was not sharp from the factory. I've managed to put an edge on the blade and it fulfills the bullshit paper test but it is very hard to sharpen. My Smith's Pocket sharpened started off ok but is now sharpening unevenly. Finally it was the first knife of the group that gave me a victory when creating feather sticks.

I have a few regrets:
  • leather sheath, does not clean well and can dull the blade
  • I'm starting to rethink about the usefulness of an ax and so a blade this big might not be necessary. I think my kit will include a folding saw, a Silky, an ax or hatchet, and a knife
  • The blade is coated and while it seems to be some sort of electrolysis and not adding to the overall thickness of the blade or adding friction it likely means that the blade is prone to rusting.
  • The color of the blade is not conspicuous and it could be easily lost at dusk. One could always attach ome reflective or glowing cordage but that's not the point.
  • Batoning is nor the ideal use-case
  • recent chips in my bowie knife suggests I need a harder blade
I've also underestimated the potential of my old and trusty Case Mako folder and my new Ganzo folder.

I think the SCHF42D is going to be the knife I leave at the bottom of the tackle-box for those moments when I forget or misplace everything else.

is your knife sharp?

I have a growing collection of camping knives and axes that need to be sharpened and I have no idea if they are sharp. I also have no skills when it comes to homing one blade or another and I certainly have no idea what angle my blade is and what angle my pullthru sharpener is or how to know any of that on a standalone stone.

I watched someone sharpen a scandi grind and that seems to make some sense. The best part of the blade itself acts as a guide for the stone. Also the stones seemed to be small enough that you can get up and personal with the knife and stone. Scandi grind seems more forgiving.

But then this yahoo on YouTube was getting all trash can about pullthru sharpeners. Noe he might have had a valid point but as I practiced with my Smith's pocket sharpener and then performed the paper test (not the phonebook) as he did... I had mixed results.

  • if my paper holding hand could vary the back pressure against the blade 
  • The front to back angle could be 90DEG or the tip down or tip up
  • the blade could also be angled left, right or also at 90DEG
  • as the blade went thru the paper; simply pushing the knife through the paper would make the cut look like a tear and any sort of forward or backward sawing motion could cut the paper clean
  • cutting the hair from your arm or such also depends on the angle of the hair to the blade etc.
So it really comes down to this:
  1. read the instructions
  2. know your knife
  3. know your tools
  4. know what sharp means to you
  5. use bio oils to lube your knife
  6. sharpen and clean after every use
I think that's it

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

feather sticks

Bushcraft and survival experts have spent considerable time telling me about product and less time about skill. I'm still having a hard time sharpening my blades. And along came feathersticks. Most of the time knife demos include:
  • jam the knife into a tree and stand on the blade
  • striking a firesteel
  • chopping
  • cutting paper
  • ease of sharpening
  • and my favorite the featherstick
The problem with featherstick examples is that most bushcrafters make feather sticks in their sleep. Recently I reviewed a number of different knives and I did the featherstick challenge only to fail. Just a few minutes ago I tried to use mu HK folder with serrated blade and failed. Then tried my Ganso folder with a straight edge and after 3 attempts I finally reasonably good for the amount of time.

There are a number of factors that play into a novice featherstick:
  • blade shape and thickness
  • blade edge
  • grip
  • balance
Feathersticks seem to come in many varieties.
  • 90, 180, 360 degree
  • thin and tight, thick and loose, or a combination
  • type hardness of the wood
  • sharp knives are better
  • care for your knife before and after use
Here is what I've learned about technique so far
  • Always push the knife away from your body and avoid the triangle of death
  • the material needs to be straight with a straight grain (it's just easier)
  • while you do not have to start in the edges it can be easier with a light touch there is less friction
  • the draw of the knife can be 90 degrees to the material or at an an angle with the pommel leading the way. The angle increases the surface area of the cut and increases the friction although the initial cut is set by the entry point of the blade
  • when drawing the blade do not simple push the same edge down the wood. Use a cutting like action so that you're using more of the blade on not just one localized area
  • each successive draw should either be just short of the previous draw or just under the previous draw.
  • and repeat; rotating each draw as you create flat spots and edges
Folders are not any better than fixed blade they are just a little safer. Locking folders are likely to be more safe than non-locking folders. Just remember that a sharp knife is the safest because you're not likely to put too much energy into the cut that might backfire.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

make it for the masses?

watching "Expedition Overland" on YouTube the trekers were talking about the Toyota vehicles and manufacturing and the Baja 1000 in context.  The quote, paraphrased, if the truck were manufactured for the general population then where would the extreme trekkers go? So Why not just make it for them all?

I'm not sure what that means exactly but I can see a parallel in software development. Just think about it a bit. FAIL again

Some months ago I was counseled by a reader when I complained that an order I placed took 3-4 weeks to arrive even though the advertised delivery date was just a few days. The reader suggested that resells items from China and by the time it enters the "shipping system" it can take weeks in customs etc.

Several months ago I ordered some new tent stakes that never arrived and Amazon was nice enough to refund my money without asking or even alerting me. It's a goo thing I was not going to climb Mt Everest or something.

Several weeks ago I order some more stakes and several types of cordage. And again they have not arrived on time and their new dates are ridiculous. I'm sure that Amazon will eventually refund my money but this is just the worst customer experience one could have.

I realize that Amazon needs to grow by some percentage every year but adding disreputable or fly by night re-sellers is not the way to improve the bottom line. I would also add that Amazon Prime's free shipping is not that free. Most products are jacked up an extra $10 or more to cover the price of shipping... At $10 per item when items are bundled Prime is actually a profit center.

thumbs down amazon

Monday, June 6, 2016

Review: Schrade ax and Morakniv ax

My motive is described here. In this review I'm not comparing the two axes but suggesting that they are complementary.

The Mora is a 17oz camping axe with a small blade and a good handle. With the shape of the blade and handle the power is delivered on target. The blade was sharp from the factory and I was able to create a featherstick out of the box and because of the handle material and the size of the tang the balance was fine. It's one ax that has multiple overlapping uses with some bushcraft knives. Not that it really matters but there is a coating on the blade and the noncutting edges are slightly smooth so there will be no sparks from here.

The Schrade Survival ax comes with a sharpening stone and a firesteel. The blade is coated, however, was able to strike the firesteel. Also the Schrade Ax is nearly 2lbs giving it some heft. The handle of the Schrade is almost 4in longer than the Mora. The steel seems to be protected in the handle. While the ax was awkward when used to strike the steel it was not impossible but it probably better as a container rather then a striker.

My latest wood processing session started with the Schrade ax and then I moved to my Mora hatchet (yes, I think it's a hatchet and not an ax). The Mora, while capable, did not handle the hardwood very well and required a lot of work to processes the wood. The Schrade, because it was heavier, handled the first step of processing much easier.

Lastly, I would also say that while the Schrade Bowie is 3in longer than the Mora hatchet the weight (23oz) is distributed where most of the Mora's weight is focused on the head. And so the Bowie is not much of a replacement for the Bowie and vice versa.

The Schrade is a buy and the Mora is a maybe. Depending on what you're carrying a second ax might not be handy and if you use a hefty bushcraft knife it might be preferred.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: Schrade SCHF45

My motive is described here.

The Schrade Bowie knife is a big knife with a huge blade. I'm not certain what benefit there is to this blade design but I decided to buy one because if the settlers in the 1700 could survive on this knife, as I channeled Davy Crocket and Daniel Boone, then I could find a use for it too. I was also thinking an ax was not necessary and that the Bowie could do that job.

I tried processing some birch wedges but it was impossible. The wood was much too hard and going against the grain in any direction only served to dull the blade. I never got to batoning, with the grain, but I imagine it will work great and put into service might fall some standing deadwood.

Unlike the previous Schrade this one has a gunmetal colored blade that might be a coating but is not textured. The 90 degree spine took the firesteel on the first try.

Finally the sheath is hard plastic or poly-whatever. There is no drainhole so it will become a cup if it's raining and it requires taking your belt off to wear it. There are some holes in the case for lashing it to a rucksack. The blade flops and makes some noise in the sheath and the velcro handle lash is pasable but that's it. This knife mist be in the upright or horizontal position.

This knife is a maybe. If I were on the show naked and afraid I think I would not leave home without it. As a replacement for an ax it is a little smaller and fits in my bag and so it might be a better hatchet than an ax.

UPDATE: The bowie made fast work of a troublesome tree. But now I have two huge chips in the blade. I think a hatchet would have been a better tool. As for my missing machete I think I'll put that behind me and move the bowie from my camping kit to the garden tool chest.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Cooking an egg with a solo stove

Earlier today I watched a bushcrafter cooking eggs by tapping a hole in the top of the egg scrambling the contents with some sort of a stick or metal wire and then placing the egg on a bed of coals. He knew that the day was done when the egg top exploded. That got me to thinking.

Recalling an earlier presentation a bushcrafter placed a cup of water next to his solo and while it never achieved a rolling boil it did in fact yet warm enough to make a cup of tea. This got me to thinking about hanging a Contraption off the side of my solo and placing the egg in the contraption hoping that radiation from the top third of the solo would then be able to cook the egg thoroughly.

Finding the wire into two Loops for the top and bottom of the egg took no time at all period starting the fire was also pretty painless. 30 minutes into the heating cycle it appeared that the egg yolk and egg white had turned opaque. In fact after 30 minutes of cooking the egg was just under a soft boil. I cannot imagine waiting 30 to 45 minutes 2 make an egg NFL at the same time cooking something else. There are simply no tasks that would take that long.

Billy Improvement I can make to my system would be to include a better radiator so that I can pull more heat on the outside of the solo and directed at the egg itself. The method of putting the egg in the Kohl's works except that the egg Heats unevenly by eating from the bottom of the egg the insides reachable and rejected out of the hole on the top.

Review Schrade SCHF37

Most reviews I have watched lately compare one thing to another thing, however, I believe that bushcraft or camping knives can be a very personal thing. They say that in the worst of times it's the knife that can get you out. (or something like that).

I'm going through my knife collection one at a time... and in no particular order:

The SCHF37 was supposed to be my workhorse. When I made the purchase I was going to use my ax and saw to bulk cut my wood. Later I though the ax was over rated. Then the time came to prepare some wood and light a fire and I noticed a few things:

  • feathersticks are required
  • ax is still required
  • batoning is not for all blades and is hard work
  • gassification stoves need 2 - 4 inch sticks. Processing will take a while because you have to get the wood to a sufficient length and width
and so about the SCHF37
  • it's heavy which makes the last stage of processing easy
  • if it's not sharp the hacking requires a lot of energy
  • the coating severs to increase friction and seems to cause the blade to jump when making find feather sticks
  • because the blade is so heavy fine feathersticks are hard to make
  • the spine is 90 degrees but does not shred wood very well unless it's an edge
  • the diamond sharpener is ok
  • the fire steel is ok but using the spine of the knife took some time and the sparks were not as big as I'm used too
Given the length, weight and balance of the blade I found myself using the knuckle position on the blade itself and the section of the blade closest to the hilt.  The few times I was hacking I used the back hand position and the middle of the blade. Given my use case a point was not necessary (YET).

The sheath is made out of nylon strap with a plastic insert for the blade. I could not remove the insert to inspect it but there are some structural issues like getting sand or other junk in it; it simply does not clean well. The belt loop means not having to take your belt off and some cordage will prevent it from flapping. The snap used to keep the blade in the sheath is cheap and is already loose.

If I had to do all over again I would not make this purchase.

another bad day for open source

One of the hallmarks of a good open source project is just how complicated it is to install, configure and maintain. Happily gitlab and the ...