Thursday, May 31, 2018

The Stanley Steel Canteen

I always liked widemouthed canteens as I could use them for cooking in an emergency.

However most widemouthed are made out of aluminum and that alone is a turn off (even though a lot of my friends swear on Russian made canteens with a ditto wide mouth "They last forever!" thanks) due to taste and the alzheimer factor/

So I gave up on my humble dream of a stainless steel canteen with wide mouth....until my wife took me to a Tx Maxx outlet (this place weirds me out!)  where I found this little beauty. Cheap as dirt because of a microscopic dent.

Anyhow, here she is:

Can you spot the dent?

Didn`t he say "widemouthed"?

Sure did, have patience!

Here we go!

For the spec junkies.

Have to keep this around the toilet for reading material, the toothpaste is getting boring.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Nitecore MT40GT

I had a little pocket money left last month and decided to splurge on a flashlight.

More precisely: Something those tactical fanboys drool over online and tell everyone "You should go and buy this!" 

(Do you know the type? The "you should get this-that" type without actually not owning it themselves and just relaying hear-say? I hate those!)

Anyway, felt like an explorer hacking my way through a jungle of information regarding "the worlds best, brightest, coolest, most tactical" torch on the market.

Exhausted, and tipsy from the cheap red I was drinking, I just chose what looked ok to me at first glance:

The Nitecore MT40G.

Here some raw specs:

Max Output 1000 lumens
Max Beam Distance 618 m
Battery 2 × 18650 ,4 × CR123 
Special Modes SOS,Strobe
Beam color White light
Length 221.5 mm / 8.72 in
Head Size 50 mm / 1.96 in
Weight 245 g / 8.64 oz
Had enough of that? Okay, here are some pretty pictures! 

The Nitecore`s lightbeam during fog on the North Sea, visibility 50 m.

It makes a good paper weight, I give you that!

The ring under the torch`es head regulates the output by simply turning it.

A giant, flashlight shaped spaceship landed in Scotland!

Dislike: The torch is using 2 X 18650 batteries. These are not sold in most shops.

Comes with a snazy pouch.

Still foggy..light is ridiculously bright.

My ship`s brightly lit main deck as contrast: Light beam still visible.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

"Ender`s Game" by Orson Scott Card (1985)

"The enemy`s gate is down!"

What is it all about?
"Ender`s Game" is a military sci fi novel set in a more or less unspecified  future where humankind is preparing itself for the third invasion of the insectoid, hive minded "Buggers".

Part of the ongoing war effort is to train children, with promising traits, to military leaders on a space station orbiting Earth. The children are isolated from the rest of humanity and subject to constant assessments through exercises in conflict solution and strategic/tactical thinking.

These exercises are more or less camouflaged as games and find their culmination in the never ending battle for high scores in the "Battle Room":  A cavernous zero G chamber, where promising recruits are given authority over "toons" to fight battles in a 3D scenario.

Even though a lot of promising children have passed through that machinery and achieved high ranks in the growing space fleet, the administration is on the lookout for a near messianic leader figure and tactical genius to save humanity. 

For this purpose a planet wide vetting of children has been implemented to find HIM or HER (*), a candidate with extreme potential is Andrew "Ender" Wiggin with the perfect mixture of raw intelligence, empathy and killer instict.

Ender is a "Third" (pariah like status) and a rare exception to Earths strict two-child policy only allowed by Earths (more or less) united government due to the great potential shown by Enders older sister and brother.

Peter, Enders brother, was deemed brilliant but sociopathic whereas Valentine, Enders sister, flunked because she was to soft.

Ender is brought to battle and  immediately is subjected extreme pressure from all sides (some children, envying Enders brilliance, even try to murder him) as he is forced to continuously forced to think out of the strategic box to lead his "toon" to victory. The story culminates as Ender manages to destroy the entire race of the "buggers" in what he and his friends believed was a computer battle simulation.

Why I like it?

Ender`s Game is, like all of Card`s sci fi novels, "soft science fiction" where the focus is on sociology, religion and the individuals rather than technology. As the story develops more and more of the worlds current geo-political state and technological level is revealed and a lot hinted between the lines. 

I like that. A LOT! 

What stirs me every time I read the book is the vulnerability of the protagonist and the violence he is exposed to at times (The fight in the battle schools battle room gives me chills this day today). Being a father and painfully aware of how vulnerable a six year old actually is, does not ALL.

This book was not my first run in with the work of Orson Scott Card: I once borrowed (and never returned) the novelization of the James Cameron movie "Abyss" from my sister. The novelization of a movie was usually "mehh..." but Card`s take on the film and the depth he gave the characters blew me away. Still one of my favorite books!

Personal attachment

I took "Ender`s Game" (in Danish : "Ender`s Strategi") home from the library during my studies at the Officers College and inhaled it...a few years later I fell over it again during my first trip as Merchant Marine Officer...and it actually helped me over a rough patch I had at that time.

Later "Ender`s Game" was partly responsible for my addiction for Audiobooks as a friend gave me the abridged version. And it has been on my playlist ever since.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Flint Spark Lighter

Running in to the flint spark lighter is inevitable if you work with metals, it is commonly used to ignite an acetylene welding torch (or, like in our house, ignite the gas stove).

It is widely available in building markets and actually has a lot of advantages in regards of fire making over the Ferro(cerium) Rod, which is so popular in survival/hiking circles (even though I prefer to carry a simple BIG lighter...)

You will find that a spark lighter is:

- much cheaper

- easier to use (also with gloves on...ESPECIALLY with gloves on!)

- in general (for me personal) works better in terms of success rate

- can be used one handed

- does not leave this stinking, grey residue on your fingers

....and so on.

( By the way: Over the years I bought most of my knives and outdoor clothing in building markets, carpenters pants and shirts/jackets, because I find them of much higher quality and at a better price/performance ratio than stuff bought in a "tactical" or "survival" store)

Of course practicality is not as marketable as the "tactical factor" so Ferro(cerium) rods will always be associated with survival. 

Anyway, let me show you how well the spark lighter works:

Greatest advantage is obvious: Can be used one handed.

You basically will have trouble finding a building market NOT selling these!

The small Ferrocerium "Flint" which is ground against the steel in the cup. The "flint" is exchangable.

Any questions?

Lubing up a cotton pad....

....letting ol`e sparky work his magic...

...and hey presto! FIRE!

nuff said!

Petro jelly/cotton pads are GREAT fire starters. This is 3 minutes after ignition!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Flashlights & Torches: The Livarno Lux Torch

Livarno Lux is the house brand of German Supermarket Chain LIDL and is normally producing cheaper key ring torches, solar garden lights and similar. So it came as a surprise to me that LIDL advertised this torch only 12 Euro, which is pretty cheap for a 10 W  CREE LED torch with about 600 Lumens.

I ran to my bicycle and rode off to get me one! 

Unfortunately a lot of others had the same brilliant idea and I had to beg the employees in the local LIDL to look for the last one in the storage.

And guess what: I got one!

So far I am very happy about my purchase, the appears to be well made and sturdy plus it is crazy bright.

The torch has 3 functions: 

- Turbo

- Energy saving mode

- Strobe

The light beam can be focused to a fairly high degree and goes up to 150 m (my own guesstimate!) 

NOT so happy about that the batteries rattle a little bit in the torch, I found that 3-4 layers of scotch tape around the middle of each battery cured that :-)

The torch itself is surprisingly well made and sturdy/heavy.


^The 10 W CREE LED. It gets fairly hot after longer use.

The torch runs on C cell batteries instead of 18650 batteries. HUGE plus in my eyes!

The torch used in anger on a medium focus setting.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Manhunter (1986)

"Manhunter" is based on the novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris and  takes place before the famous book/movie "The Silence Of The Lambs"

It is directed by Michael Mann ("Miami Vice") and is at first glance a typical 80ies movie until once gets caught up in the story line which has surprising depth.

Will Graham, a retired profiler for the FBI who put the notorious Hannibal Lecter behind bars, is called out by his former boss to assist in the chase of the serial killer known as "The Tooth Fairy" who kills whole families in their home (apparently) at random.

Graham grudgingly accepts the task and immerses himself into the mindset of the killer and ends up developing a mixed feeling of pity and hate as his hunt intensifies. 

Pity because he senses that the killer is the product of abuse. 

And hate because he knows that the killer intends to "elevate himself to godhood" through the killings.

Crawford will later deduct through the killers modus operandi that visual input is a very important factor in the killings.

Will Graham: This started from an abused kid, a battered infant... There's something terrible about...

Jack Crawford:  What are you, sympathizing with this guy?

Will Graham: Absolutely... My heart bleeds for him, as a child. Someone took a kid and manufactured a monster. At the same time, as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to pursue trivial fantasies... As an adult, someone should blow the sick fuck out of his socks...

Jack Crawford: Do you think that's a contradiction, Jack? Does this kind of understanding make you uncomfortable?

If you have read the book "Red Dragon" you will find that the instructor of the movie has taken a lot of freedoms in the interpretation of the book. However, "Manhunter" can stand on his own feet and is in many ways better than the more recent (and pretty much a 1:1 adaptation of the book) "Red Dragon" film with Edward Norton and Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter.

What I like most about this movie?

Hannibal Lecter is not glamorized at all as in "Silence Of The Lambs" where he receives near superhuman qualities.

The soundtrack ! Favorite song is "Strong As I am" by Primal Movers

The nonverbal communication between the protagonists. Namely between Will Graham and his family but also Francis Dollarhyde (the, spoiler!) and his blind girlfriend. Especially the scene where Dollarhyde lets his girl cuddle with a sedated tiger.

GREAT acting!

The photography. The influence from the "Miami Vice" series is very visible>

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Project Mjølner - Part deux

After I was done with Project Mjølner it actually just served as paperweight, door blocker and conversation piece (just to confirm to my wife`s friends that I indeed am crazy).

But as they say in German: ""Ist der Ruf erst ruiniert, lebt es sich recht ungeniert." (Translation: "Once one's reputation is ruined, one can live unconcerned")

So I decided to take the next step and put the large internal volume of the hammer to good and stuff it with survival goodness.

First I tie a Fencer Knot around the handle to give Mjølner a better grip.

Mjølners back side.

Lots of teflon tape to seal the threads

Can`t have enough teflon tape...or cable tiers...or duct tape!

Lots of wasted space in Mjølners head

The same goes for the handle.

I decided the head will be a good place for fire starters and a bunch of small glow sticks.

Fits! The fire starters are wrapped in foil.

The handle: I start with a length of paracord so I am able to get everything out fast.

A shower cap for the Shower Cap Solar Still

Paracetamol, Immodium and Israeli water purification tablets.

Tampons for Tampon Water Filter

Glow stick and a BIC lighter.

Two Rolly Toothbrushes and finished!