Wednesday, June 7, 2017

My EDC

I bought a new knife. It is the Guidesman Stem, a very small knife in the ten dollar range.



I already have four knives, a Victorinox Officier Suisse, which is a model from the famous "Swiss Army Knife" family. Its quality is very good, and it has a nice selection of tools, though there are some that I use very rarely and could do without.



Then I have my "Rambo" knife, an eight-inch sword with a hollow grip for a survival kit. It also has a built-in compass in the pommel cap. I do not use it very often, and the scabbard that came with it was garbage (the knife literally cut the scabbard apart) and so it is hard to carry.



But for goofing around it isn't bad, being very cheap and reasonably useful at that.

I also have a knife that I got from a garage sale and it is so cheap I'm not going to waste the time given me on this earth writing more about it.
                                     
My best knife (other than the SAK) is the Kershaw Lifter. I got this on sale for about half the retail price and it is very cool.
It has a very macho finish, and is military/street fighter in its looks and design.

It has an assisted opening which is very fast, and the blade has a Tanto-style point. I chose this knife because I wanted one for self-defense. Okay, that and looking super cool carrying it. But anyways, the tanto is a good blade type, because it is designed for penetration. The Chinese invented it for piercing metal body armor.







So an assisted opening knife with a tanto point and 3 and 1/2 inch blade is pretty fearsome.
However, upon researching my state's knife laws, it seemed my knife was questionable.


Now I realize that most weapon laws are absurd, but my main concern is obeying God's Word in regard to obeying the law.
Where that ends (for example, obeying the letter of the law, or using common sense) is something I'm still not sure on, but that's a topic in itself.

Long story short, I just keep that weapon in my room for the most part. Also, it is worth noting, that knives really are not optimal self-defense weapons. Basically anything that is longer than a knife and strong enough to mess someone up if  (i.e. crowbar, 2x4, sturdy broom handle) than that weapon trumps the knife.

That's why cops in the UK carry batons. Because even Joe Mcdoe with a knife and a bellyful of beer is no match against Constable Thornton and his oaken nightstick.

But I still think knives have some value. Small knives can be gripped in the hand like a Wolverine claw and then used in a punching manner. If aimed at the face and neck, this would probably be doing considerable damage. In the movie Captain Phillips (2013) a Somali pirate gets his hand cut trying to guard himself from a sailor with a knife.

I don't know if that incident happened in real life or just the movie (one must be extremely cautious about taking any combat advice from Hollywood) but it seems like a realistic scenario. An unarmed predator is probably going to rethink his approach about physically assaulting anyone if they are holding a sharp object in their hand.

But I'm getting off track. So I bought the Guidesman Stem as a fashion statement and as a tool. Self-defense still factors into the equation, but not as much as the other two factors.

Being so much smaller than the Lifter, even if it technically broke some laws or was legally dubious depending on whatever situation, it is at least much less threatening and alarming, and wouldn't brand me as a hardened street criminal.
                     
It also has a camo finish which definitely gives the knife a "hunter" look which is probably the least likely to alarm anyone. The only thing less scary would probably be a knife with a wooden handle and brass plating.

The blade came fairly sharp out of the box and if I remember correctly, it is 2 and 1/2 inches long.

I find the thumb switch tricky to use, and it is much easier to simply open the knife with two hands. The blade is tight in the housing, and it definitely doesn't flick open with any amount of swiftness. The blade locking mechanism is a bit rough and the whole knife is not built to very high standards of precision. But it is cheap, and I like it a lot.

 I've had times where the locking mechanism didn't click into place, but it is hard to say how often that happens and it doesn't really bug me personally.

The real problem I have with it is that the pocket clip is very, very, tight. I have been trying to get the metal limbered up, but it hasn't really worked so far. So it is really hard to clip it on your pocket. Update: I bent the clip (at the bolts holding it in, actually) and I have generally loosened everything up. A bit rough, but now it works.

It is very comfortable for everyday carry, being so small and light. 


So that is my review. I have never really done an EDC, but since the Stem is so small and light I have been able to comfortably carry it pretty much all the time.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Random Cool Things lately

Random cool things lately:

Helped to build a waterline at my church and did minor maintenance work with my friends.

Was bicycling and happened across the local shotgun club, got to watch the high school team practice skeet shooting.

Spotted a nice Pontiac GTO in the wild. I don't know which year though, I'm still fairly illiterate with cars.

Used an edge trimmer and hit the edge of the sidewalk by accident, with a few sparks as a result. That thing was a bit of a pain.

Spotted a Dodge Challenger in the wild sporting a nice purple paint job. (I've seen Challengers before, but not purple ones).

Dropped a WHOLE piece of pizza onto dirty pavement, and decided not to eat it.

There are chipmunks where I live.

Watched Thor for the first time and really liked it.

I have an air conditioner sitting in my room doing nothing.

As I watched the skeet shooting I realized  that one sweep of a shotgun in the wrong direction could nail me.

Awkwardly waited around for the shooters to get out of the building so they could start shooting.

Broke the wristband on my watch and now I use it as a pocket watch.


Okay I'm done. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Meanwhile, in America

Here I am going to talk about transportation. The transportation system of the United States. And why it's so messed up. And cool, but mostly messed up.
I don't want to bog myself down by making this a carefully outlined argument to send to the senate. Let's take it as more of a rant.

So first: The car industry is based on a balance. There are different wants and "needs", which all vary right down to the individual car owner. But for the sake of argument and the entertainment derived from setting stereotypes, we will divide these desires into two main camps of thought: The commuters and the adrenaline junkies.

The commuters are the people who want cars to be fuel efficient, "safe", and reasonably good-looking and stylish. Might as well make it pretty if it needn't be ugly.

And the adrenaline junkies are the members of that circle of tribes that desires cars that drive fast, crank up large amounts of horsepower, and look maniacally cool. They also want lots of load-carrying capacity and power, racing performance, or off-road capabilities, depending on the type of vehicle they're looking at. And what tribe they belong to.

In other words, the industry is driven by the status quo and the desire for speed rather than point A to point B transportation. That's why the new Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk has been conceived. A 700 (estimate) horse-power tank. My family's Honda CRV runs at wimpish-in-comparison, 160HP. If you have a large family and need a large vehicle, cool. But there are few reasons/excuses that you would ever need 700 horsepower. The new Dodge Challenger Demon muscle car, is a drag-racing monster with a landmark 840HP. To me, a muscle car with that much horsepower makes sense. Muscle cars are toys. They don't play-act as people-movers. But an SUV?

And I'm not saying I don't like performance and looks. I love high-caliber cars and the Dodge Challenger is one of my favorite cars, if not my favorite outright.
But the point is, that in an industry driven by such frivolous ideals and values, the result is that most people are handling vehicles that cost more than they should and harbor a destructive potential that is higher than it should be as a result of their excess weight and power. I would doubt that anyone paying the full MSRP of the nuclear-powered Cherokee is going to get that money back in terms of their experience with the vehicle.

If they lead a lifestyle similar to James Bond and need those ponies to escape their safe house in Peru and whisk their HVT (high-value target) families away to a seaplane base before the GIGN gets them, navigate the perilous cliffs, shoulder the twenty-millimeter chain gun that Nick Fury installed in the moon roof and support all the Kevlar, steel, and composite armor mounted in the vehicle frame to protect them from hordes of Kalashnikov-waving militants, then they're getting their dollar's worth!

But then there's the typical American family. Jenny needs to get to the store. She needs to get to the store, acquire about, eh, give-or-take 50-70 pounds of groceries and get back home without hurting herself, other people, or Timmy and Hunter sitting in the back seat playing games and listening to Fallout Boy on their Ipads.

Does Jenny need 700 horsepower? No. You know why? The PanzerKampfWagen VI, better known as the Tiger I tank, was one of the most fearsome tanks in WWII. It weighed 121,255 pounds, had steel armor one-hundred and ten millimeters thick, and carried a gun (using ammunition that probably weighed around thirty-pounds per round) that could destroy almost any other tank in the world at that time. And the horsepower? Yep, right around seven-hundred.

Now granted, the Tiger was a typical German contraption that was over-engineered and couldn't move around too well on the dance floor, but it danced well enough to still be a pretty effective tank. I would say tank combat is more about shooting than moving anyway. But the point remains that Jenny's Cherokee doesn't need the eye of the tiger.

And then there is this new freak of technology. The self-driving automobile. Some love it, some hate it, some just heard about it on the news and they just move on with their lives. I'll say right off the bat that I love it. I like driving, and controlling vehicles (from a golf cart to a lawnmower) is something I've always enjoyed.
I don't want completely autonomous vehicles that allow you no control whatsoever. But I want vehicles that would give you the option of that.

The main complaint that most people level against the SDA (or at least the one I've heard the most) is that they are unsafe and they don't trust them. But I think that is silly. Crashes are going to happen. But with SDAs I think they will happen less. Would you rather share roads with vehicles commanded by human individuals (under varying states of emotion, stress, and physical and mental capability) or with cars controlled by singular robotic minds that have no other aim or desire than watching the roads and avoiding objects that could cause an accident?

The technology is quite sophisticated right where it is at now, and I would assume it only gets better from here on out.

I also believe electric cars are the future, since electricity appears to be a very renewable energy source, and one that doesn't give off pollutants. Now I don't buy into any of the liberal lunacy about global warming, but there certainly isn't anything wrong with keeping the air we breathe as pure as reasonably possible.

The lessening of vehicle noise is also another benefit, but electric cars certainly don't have the ferocity that is desired in the performance/looks camp and I understand that. But at least in terms of general transportation, the electric car is a great idea. And even though you might not get fire-breathers like the Dodge Demon, there has been some very slick and impressive sports cars built to harness this new force. And hopefully a production electric muscle car will come around soon (if it hasn't already).

And then finally: My opinion on the public education system's role in training new drivers. It's not good. The money we spend on it is not worth it. I have not done driver's ed. But my sister has. According to her, there was very little that she learned in the classroom that she didn't learn from driving with her parents. In other words, it was hundreds of dollars spent simply because the law required it.


The problem is that people are not responsible. Back in the old days, kids were taught how to drive by their parents. It was a skill everyone learned and they simply passed it down to their children. For the most part, driving is little more than basic rules and common sense. If you are a responsible and sensible person, you would simply get the basics from your parents, do a little light reading about how the roads work, and then carefully start applying those in real-world situations. No dollars down.

 If Billy Ray Duncan grows up without his parents instilling discipline and a sense of responsibility, then he will be a dangerous driver, regardless of what schooling he gets. It's not so much about what you know, but whether you have the mindset to be a safe driver in the first place.

So that is my rant on the state of American roads. If you are worked up, don't be. North Korea's probably going to nuke us anyway.
Hope you had fun reading this!




Wednesday, May 3, 2017

What I've been up to (such a cliche post title ergh)

So here's some things that I've been up to in the current times. I'm going to categorize it in terms of the good and the bad, so this should be reasonably entertaining.

The Good:

I am looking into getting a part-time job as a drone pilot for an aerial photography company; still waiting for the next step, which would be a sit-down discussion with the guys running it and the next steps from there (getting a commercial drone pilot's license for example).

I watched Captain Phillips on ClearPlay. It was a great movie and one of the most realistic I have ever seen in the way it portrays real-life stress and emergencies. (ClearPlay is a service that allows you to filter out objectionable content from movies, my family has been using it a lot, and it is pretty good, but some things slip through. The filter menu is poorly explained, so that is partly culprit. Basically, just beware that it isn't perfect).

I started blogging again!

I'm reading Amazing Grace, the biography of William Wilberforce (the film by the same title, also about Wilberforce, is superb).

I've been making new friends at my new church.

I plan on going to Civil Air Patrol encampment this year (again). Last year I went for the first time and it was one of the toughest experiences of my life, but also one of the most fun. The cons are so bad but the pros are so good!

I am watching Treasure Planet, an old Disney animated film that is so early 2000's that it is wonderfully nostalgic and just a teeny bit nauseating. It has it's weird parts, but overall it is very good. I have not watched it before so it was either going to be a lost goodie, or one of those movies Disney doesn't talk about. Turns out to be the former thus so far.

Filming a subpar Rocky-inspired workout montage in my basement.

Investigating intrusions on my property like a (subpar) game warden. finding boot prints, finding the spot where "they" entered the property, and looking at a beer bottle's "fresh by" label to determine if it belonged to "them" (I think it did).

The Bad:

I took two strips of wood and set them on top of spaced cinder blocks. I then stomped my foot down to break them in half, and the pieces wacked me in the side of the head. Wish I'd been filming that one.

I vacuumed my room with the hose connected wrong. So it didn't actually vacuum.

The rivers in my area backed up with sewage a while ago, so I am leery about whether they are safe now, which conflicts with my idea of getting a rubber boat. (would have been a kayak if they weren't so hard to move and if they weren't too expensive for someone without a job like me).

Algebra 2 (self explanatory).

I'm not exercising like I should.



So that is it for now. Catch you next time.


Monday, May 1, 2017

Back to the long-lost world of blogging and real-life

So hello everybody. I haven't been publishing much. But now I plan (not promise, mind you) to be a bit more active here, since I have taken a indefinite and extended hiatus from my YouTube channel.

As I try to get my blog rolling (better than ever before, I plan) I will catch you up on what I've been doing, and introduce myself (something that I haven't done in much detail up to this point).

My name is Andrew and I am a teenaged guy living in the United States. I am a born-again Christian who is sinner saved by the grace of Christ. I have a long ways to go in learning all that God has for me, but I hope that I can be a positive witness for Him in this life, and on this blog.

In terms of what I do for a laugh (i.e. my hobbies) I've never been really athletic. I've never played football or baseball or any conventional sports. Being homeschooled probably had a hand in that, and it's not that I wouldn't like to try some sports, but it's something I've never had a lasting interest in, and not something easily available to me.

My interest in sports often centered in obscure, niche, (or downright bizarre) sports like airsoft, paintball, and Creative Anachronism (picture people reenacting battles akin to The Lord of The Rings). None of these took off for me (my recollections of paintball and airsoft recall mostly memories of pain and wasted money) but they are still things that hold interest for me.

I became involved in the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) about year and a half ago. The CAP is the civilian auxiliary component of the Air Force, and has a cadet program. I don't wish to get into the complex and creativity-draining conversation of what CAP is right now, but it is basically a military-style program, where you dress in a uniform, learn stuff (some cool, some boring) and do stuff (some boring, some downright amazing) and generally have a great time amidst blood, sweat, and tears. And it is worth it.
But that's all I'll say on it now.

Meanwhile, I am a military buff (my dad and I watching war movies together is a prominent childhood memory) and I like creative stuff like writing, art, and film.

Legos were a HUGE interest for several years of my life (I still have a vast number of Legos) and even though that interest died out, I believe the benefit of playing with those was very valuable. My sister and I acted out stories with minifigures and built bases for them to reside in. Another interest, Star Wars, was often the subject. Playing with Legos, building with Legos, and making videos with Legos, I think, contributed towards giving me a childhood marked by lots of creativity.

Anways, so movies and other forms of visual art has always appealed to me. It's definitely on the list of careers I would think about pursuing, such as graphic or industrial design, filmmaking, or drones (but not on a very technical level). 

I'm not a big reader (most of my literature consists of large books about military arms) but that is something I wish to fix in this year. I have not written any books so to speak (except for a first draft on a book about airsoft, non-fiction) but I have an interest in getting good at writing and developing full-length books. 

My goal in writing is not because I particularly adore storytelling or feel that I have some compelling legacy to spout off to the world, but mostly because it allows me to give life to worlds that I dream of as influenced by movies, video games, and concept art. These strong visual themes, I suppose, could be imagined as being thrown in to a large melting pot. All these elements (objects, characters, setting, atmospheric and emotional moods and tones) I guess you could say, mix and get combined and then are developed, more or less, into worlds with something that smells slightly of originality.

I also have an interest in cars, something that I never had up til recently. I don't drive yet; in fact, I elected to get a good bicycle instead of having my parents spend a comparatively similar amount of money on driver's ed. And I am a firm believer that the government, formal schooling, and money, are not needed to teach me how to pilot a moving vehicle.

Back in the good (for the most part) 'ol days when things were judged much more logically, you just got in the car with your parent, they showed you how to use the stick-shift, told you not to hit other cars, and not to hold a beer bottle with one hand and the wheel with the other. Straightforward and simple. Either your responsible or your not. Your parents teach you that, not your driver's ed teacher. But I'm getting way too off topic here. Point is, I don't drive. Yet. And that I cycle, and would like to get more involved with it.

Even though I am running this blog, I don't use the internet nearly as much as I used to in the recent past. And one of the things I wish to glean from that reality is getting a lot more from real life. And maybe even discovering some lost arts. Maybe.

So I hope this late introduction gives you a good idea of what I'm into and thus, what to expect on this blog. Thanks for reading, and don't expect every post to be this long.
-Andrew




Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Googly eyes, a notebook, and a pen.

Enjoy.








The car was a previous drawing


that is supposed to be a creature hiding in a den










Wednesday, February 8, 2017

My Review: 2001: A Space Odyssey









Alright. So here I am going to review a movie that is quite famous but also reasonably obscure.
 It is one of those movies that you either love or hate. Anyways, I am talking about Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, which has been touted by many as the greatest science fiction motion picture of all time.
   And in many ways I am inclined to agree, but if you have seen the movie and hate it, don't pick up rotten fruit and hurl it at me just yet. I will explain my reasons. Also, I consider 2001 to be the prime example of "classical" science fiction, not necessarily trumping Star Wars, because Star Wars is a genre in its own right.

      In short, my summary of 2001 is that it is a beautifully artistic and unique film, that is if you skip the beginning and the end. Which is a very rare thing to say about any movie.
   But enough beating around the bush. Let's get to talking about the movie already.
And by the way, this is going to have spoilers.

   Okay so the movie starts out at the "dawn of man" which translates as a film version of the first pages of an evolution textbook. Besides the obvious flaw of this unbiblical and silly (not to mention false) premise, is the fact that watching a bunch of people dressed as apes and discovering crude technological advances is pretty boring when you popped the disc in to watch a sleek sci-fi film.
   So skip the beginning. You're not missing anything. It's also the most violent part of the movie with the people (dressed as apes) clubbing each other to death with a animal bone. Just saying.

         So after the "shocking" jump cut (which isn't shocking because I read the back of the box which said the jump cut was shocking or stunning or whatever) you find yourself landed in 2001. In outer space. Since I'm writing this in 2017, I guess you could say I'm sorely disappointed in terms of where we're at technologically (except for drones and Tesla cars), but that is beside the point.

     In my opinion, this is where the movie truly starts. The music is what is now my favorite classical piece (simply because of this movie) The Blue Danube by Strauss. One thing I love about 2001 that it truly feels futuristic. It feels futuristic even today (because as I referenced before I'm disappointed) and even the "olden days" view of the future is well, still extremely futuristic. The space craft and decor and everything look 60s/70s inspired but they still have a futuristic edge to them.

   On the other side of the coin, however, what becomes immediately apparent is the fact that this movie is slow. Like, REALLY slow. And that is basically because everything happens in real time. If a "normal" movie depicted an aircraft taking off at an airport, typically you will see the passengers getting checked in, jumping on the plane, and then the next shot will be the airplane zooming off in a really cliche shot. In this part of 2001 you watch a spaceliner coming in to land in a space station and it happens just as slow as it would in real life. So either you'll appreciate the realism, or you'll be bored to tears and find something to throw. It's a matter of taste.

 Also, back in the day (1968) computer generated images weren't being used widely (if at all, I really don't know) in movies. You still had real sets, and the space scenes were done using paintings and scale models. I know very little of how this movie was filmed, but I know they weren't using highly sophisticated computerized images and models. And I must say that I find these techniques more convincing in some ways then modern filmmaking practices. But computer technology is getting better and better. But I still love the look and odd realism of the classic miniatures and painted backgrounds and whatever that stuff is (even though I have no idea what I'm talking about).

      I'm not going to talk much about the plot and how the movie essentially progress from beyond this point, and this is pretty fitting, because instead of being a story, 2001 is much more of a auditory and visual experience to me, more artistic rather than a flesh-and-bones plot and story.

Like I said, the realism is unusual, and part of what makes it so unique. Instead of roaring engines and laser sounds, sequences in space do not have any sound other than the actual soundtrack or what you would actually hear in a vacuum (for example, the breathing in your helmet during a spacewalk). The way the film deals with zero gravity is also novel. Instead of easily explaining it away with a "counter-gravity" device, it would seem that the filmmakers actually looked at how to deal with the problem of floating around while trying to do things from the perspective of an inventor or engineer. With "grip-shoes". It's pretty weird and dorky, but it is clever.

I also love that they make note of how there really isn't "up" or "down" in a zero-gravity environment, and the spaceships and rooms are designed using this principle to an advantage. There are also some pretty interesting shots featuring this, and it is more impressive when you keep in mind it is a 1968 film.
I also really like the design of the movie.  The interior designs definitely have a period flair, but as I said before, they look futuristic. Because really, the 60s and 70s did have a considerably futuristic design look even in real life.
The spaceships are not incredibly mind-blowing or anything, but are still pretty cool.
I definitely like the space suit designs, with their helmets, and the ribbed exterior of the suits. I especially like the brightly colored ones rather than the silver.
The clothing would probably be the most unfuturistic design work of the movie, looking basically like 1960/70s clothing made to look a little more futuristic.
But fashion is very hard to predict, so it's no wonder.

The way the film is shot is also great, with interesting and creative angles.

Content-wise The film is pretty clean, just the "H" and "D" word I think, plopped into a few conversations, but other than that the only other problem would be the paganistic view of humankind (the evolution and the end) as God is never pointed to as the source from which all things are created, nor as the destiny of humankind in the sense that we were created in His image to glorify Him, and how man will either spend eternity in heaven or hell based on whether they commit to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. 

Sorry, Mr. Kubrick, it's not human destiny to become a gigantic baby floating in space. Not to mention that must be as boring as staring at a brick wall.

 And in terms of violence, the "ape people" at the beginning beat each other up with murderous intent and results
 in the beginning, and later an astronaut has his oxygen lines cut during a spacewalk by the evil robot HAL, who also shuts down the power on homeostasis pods and kills astronauts in hibernation. And one of the male astronauts is shown getting a tan with no shirt and just boxer shorts on (might make some of the girls faint or whatever, I don't know, just want to cover all the bases). And overall, the whole film may just creep you out. I personally wouldn't recommend to kids younger than 13 or 14. Creepy movies can creep you out when you're young. Trust me. I know. Go figure.

   
 But overall, it would be one of may favorite all-time movies. But I do like normal movies. I promise. Don't unfollow my blog. Please. "I'm afraid I can't do that Dave". "I'm going...".

                

Friday, January 27, 2017

Little sketches

M4/Hybrid assault rifle

Cool logo that I don't have a use for right now

In Rogue One, some of the Rebel commando helmets are based after American M1 helmets.
Here is a German helmet converted to the RO style

RO-inspired blaster pistol

This is like a mix between a Clone trooper and a Death Trooper

Revolver

cumbersome-looking mech

Star Wars blaster pistol with a bayonet

Hybrid assault rifle 

AK-inspired gun

Meteor-like British fighter

Wacky dieselpunk kind of plane

Another Rogue One helmet

Sci-Fi battle rifle