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!" Ehrm...no 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 help...at 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!





Sunday, May 20, 2018

Roper 33 - Ditching The Mandrake

What always puzzled me with chicks is that, whatever constellation of conditions make this happen, once it makes "click" in their heads and they get the hots for a guy, a filter appears between their eyes and brain.

I`ve seen pearls cast themselves to swine convinced that their prince was a mix of Jesus, Albert Schweitzer and a Boss model. 

Sometimes some filthy bastard could gleefully blend a litter of kittens and the girl in question would smile and mentally warp the structure of reality: 

"He is expressing his art, isnt he just dreamy?"

I have seen this before, often, and it happens mostly to intelligent, well educated girls.

But this?

This was ridiculous!

L. knelt at The Mandrakes feet and tied them together with a simple & elegant looking knot. The Mandrake sat, demurely if you can believe it, her hands tied with a similar knot and smiling up to L. as if he had established a direct line to her...well, everything.

L. , blushing fiercely, kept on stammering about the history of this particular knot (How god awful nerdy...) and that it originated from three-legged races during the Victorian era.

The Mandrake smiled and nodded with a "tell me more" glow on her face.

Time to stop this.

I pulled L. up by his elbow while he kept starring at the floor.

"So, you just went to toilet. We switched off all electricity, windows are open, your lappy and smart watch is in your room. We run off now and call the coppers at the same moment we are off the ferry in about, uhm, 3 hours. Oh, and there are Croissants ready in the oven. You ok down there?"

She tested her restraints and purred "Oh, I`ll be fine!"

Smiling up at L. "Take care now big guy!"

"Bye!" L mumbled and managed to look at her for a second before I dragged him out.

We came about 100 m down the dirt road when he braked his expensive looking bicycle, liberated from The Mandrakes house, so violently that pebbles flew 10-20 m. 

He starred at me for second and did a 180, racing back to the house.

I just stood there, starring at his back while he made a sharp turn to the left. On to the summerhouses front lawn and out of my view.

Ten minutes later he came back, grinning stupidly.

"How`s life Romeo?" I asked.

"Just wondered if she was comfortable `n all that...mumble mumble"

We cycled the to the town of Tårs where we bought ferry tickets to the other side of the Great Belt to the town of Spodsbjerg. 

About 45 minutes from our hometown.

We gave the tickets to some German hitchhikers and went to the local red cross shop for some new clothes.

Budding Stockholm-syndrom romance or not: I trusted that The Mandrake would tell the police where we would go. I would be very surprised if not.

Duhu.

L. followed up on the news feed via the FM radio on his antique brick of a telephone.

Apparently we did what legions of social workers and police did not manage..we single handed ended the Nordic Rocker War by unifying pretty much every large biker club.

Against us.

Our plan was simple: Running.




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.

Kudos...


^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...
[pause]

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?

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

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

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

GREAT acting!

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





Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Roper 32 - Lazarus

It is funny what you notice when under stress.

I was painfully aware of the wet stones I kneeled on, the sweet tropical smell of the of the nearby water, the lingering diesel fumes and even the chemical smell from my plastic handcuffs that tied my feet and my hands together.

Maybe it was a reaction to my death I knew would occur within the next 5 minutes, or at least when that filthy swine stopped talking.

The knife that killed L. drew figure eights in front of my face. The pearl handle in crass contrast to the dark hand holding it.

I looked up to the sweaty, wide eyed face of Guinea. Savoring every minute of this, breathing heavy, eyes flickering towards the shape of The Mandrake and M. also lying hogtied on the slimy stones.

Sorry girls, can`t. Really can`t.

I phased him out, tried to focus away from my helplessness and starred over the Mediterranean and the reflection of a ridiculous white moon.

A hand appeared besides an old AC unit at the wall behind Guinea. Fighting for purchase. Than another appeared.

My heart was about to stop as a large body clumsily, but steady as a glacier, pulled itself onto the yards low guard rail before it fell into a heap on to the floor. Moaning silently.

I could not believe my eyes as L. unfolded himself, standing shakily. Leaning against the old, rusty AC for purchase and nearly knocking it out of its decayed frame, which could not hold his weight.

The girls made noises that probably would have been screams of joy if the duct tape would not have been there.

Guinea, having his back to the sea,  took it for screams of terror and his grin grew ever wider.

L. stood and looked at the AC, at Guinea, at the AC again and shook the it with one hand as the other pulled his lasso from the large pocket of his photographers west.

"Now, my friend, it is time to die." Looking at the girls "But you my pretties have a long night ahead of you!"

"See, you SAY that..." L said as he tied one end of the lasso to the AC unit.

Guinea turned with a sickening grace and starred at L. leaning against the guard rail. Bleeding, holding a large loop of rope in his head which he started to swing over his head.

"Ah, the boy who likes to play with ropes!" Guinea said as he danced closer to L. "It will be my pleas...."

He did not come any further as L . threw his rope. The loop caught the slime sacks right leg only centimeters under the right knee.

Guinea stopped up and laughed.

"Seriously boy? What now? Holding the tiger by its tail? I mean I do admire the general effort and motivation but..."

He did not manage to say more as L.`s right fist pounded into the AC several times and knocked it loose from its frame. 

It balanced for one or two seconds on the frames edge before falling towards the dark waters of the Bosporus.

The rope SANG as it became taught and swept Guinea from his feet.

He screamed with a shrill, high pitched voice and he was dragged over the yard. Desperately trying to gain purchase on the century old, smooth stones. 

He even tried to jam his knife into the ground, creating an impressive long line of sparks as he was dragged along.

L. waved a weak goodbye as Guinea was pulled past him and over the guard rails where he finally managed to hold on to the round vertical bars. Even now he swung his knife in wide arcs in an last attempt to hurt L.

L. stood, swaying and bleeding.

Looking at Guinea he said: "Dude, let go."

Guinea starred at him with wide open, pleading eyes.

"Its ok man, you can do it."

Guinea opened and closed his mouth rapidly, maybe pleas. Maybe prayers.

Then Guinea flew.




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!