Almost Free Tenkara Fishing Rod

Tenkara is a very simple Japanese form of fly fishing that only uses a rod, line, and fly. There’s no expensive reel to buy, and since your line length is very limited compared to standard fly fishing you save money there. It looks like fun so I decided to try it. First thing of course is to go online and find a Tenkara fishing rod. Type “tenkara fishing rod” into Google and the first three hits will probably be tenkarausa.com, tenkararodco.com, and a Tenkara fishing pole review on gearpatrol.com. All three sites have good info and it does look like a lot of fun until you see the prices. $90 for an “entry level” Tenkara fishing pole, which is basically a glorified stick??? ANd $90 is just the starting point. They go up – way up – to well over $200. There has to be a cheaper way, and there is. I’m glad, because if I spent $100 or more on a fancy stick I’d probably end up divorced.

I went to Amazon, searched for “tenkara rod,” and found this nice little 13 Ft, 8 Section Carbon Fiber Telescopic Fishing Rod for only $11.49, shipping included. So of course I ordered one. Not free, but compared to $90-200 (or more) I’m calling it almost free. It’s light (about 6 oz) and collapses to about 2 feet long. It’s not as fancy as the expensive rods (no cork handle) but for the price I can live with that. I can’t wait to try it when the weather gets nice. If you want to try Tenkara fishing but cringe at the thought of spending hundreds of dollars on what is basically a fancy stick, it’s worth taking a look at.

More Info on Tenkara:

Tenkara USA
Tenkara Rod Company
Tenkara fishing pole review on Gear Patrol
Tenkara Fishing Gear on Amazon

Rethinking every day carry (EDC)

I guess this is the second time I’ve put actual thought into it, and I’ve learned some things since I started actually thinking about it instead of just seeing it… “it” being “every day carry” (aka EDC) knives…

It’s pretty amazing how popular EDC is. I work at an Institute of Higher Indoctrination… err… higher education… and even some of the “progressive” instructors carry a knife (easy to see by the pocket clip), so there must be something to it, right?

I decided to see what it was all about so I got a Buck Vantage Pro and a Spyderco Paramilitary II. They’re both really nice knives, but… they both take up a lot of room in the pocket. I carry mine in my right front pocket, and when either knife is clipped into the pocket it takes up so much room that it’s hard to use the pocket for anything else: keys, loose change, etc…

I also have to admit, when I first started EDCing, I didn’t even see what was so useful about always having a knife on me. That changed when I started taking apart an old PBX – the knife worked great for cutting through zip-ties, stripping wire, I even started using it to open mail instead of using my keys like I used to. The thing is though, for all those tasks the two knives I have might just be a little too much. Useful, yes – but not useful enough to make up for losing the use of my right front pocket.

I started reading more EDC knife reviews and started to notice something… Most of the reviews just focus on the quality and potential uses of the knife under review, and not many talked about what it was actually used for after the review. Those that did mentioned simple things, like opening mail or cutting small cord, maybe stripping wire – NONE of which require a fancy hunter or “tacticool” blade. Not saying that such blades don’t have a use (they do), just that maybe (probably) they’re not necessary for 90% of EDC use.

So… I’m thinking of changing up my Every Day Carry plan for something simpler, like a Case Sodbuster Jr. or CV Trapper. Either one is fine for at least 90% of what I need to do with an EDC knife. Add to that, either is way more discreet than a clip knife and most important gives me back the use of my right front jeans pocket. I’m going to order one of them in the next week or so and hope to have a review up before Christmas.

As for my current two EDC knives, I’ll be keeping them, but only carrying when I might need their capabilities (for example, the Vantage Pro when I’m hunting or the Paramilitary II if I’m camping). Guess it just comes down to the fact I’m starting to realize the most important thing about a tool is how well it works for what I’m doing and not how it looks on me.

My Dad’s Dad

I never got to meet my dad’s dad – that would be my Grandpa Deboy. He died long before I was born, to tell the truth I’m not even sure what year. Looking back at family history though I can kind of guess… I think he was 54 when he died, and my dad was 20. Since my dad was born in 1934, my grandpa would have died in 1954 or early 1955, meaning he would have been born in 1900 or 1901.

I do know some things about him… he came to the United States from Germany. I don’t know the date he was processed through Ellis Island, but his ship left Germany on May 23, 1922. I have a copy of the page from the ship’s passenger list with my grandpa’s name on it. I guess he came here because he wanted to be an American. My dad said as early as he can remember, no German was spoken at home, only English. Some time after arriving, he married Thelma, my Grandma – for some reason we always called her “Murphys Grandma” instead of Grandma Deboy. She passed away when I was 4 or 5. I loved her dearly, but I’ll write about her later. This is about her husband, my dad’s dad, Albert Deboy.

At some point, my grandpa got a job with a dairy. He was good at his job, so good that he eventually he was in charge of taking the dairy’s “show string” to all the big fairs in California (including the State Fair) to show them. In those days, that was a big deal. Then he gave it all up and quit to become a caretaker at a sanatorium in the little town of Murphys, California.

If you’ve ever been to the Central Valley in California, you may know how hard it can be in kids with asthma or allergies. Lots of heat, lots of pollen, hell on allergies and asthma – and hell on my dad, who suffered from both. The family decided to send my dad to a sanatorium in Murphys for a better climate and treatment for his allergies and asthma.

It didn’t work out so well I guess… my dad missed my grandparents and they missed my dad, so they moved him back home and told him to just deal with the allergies and asthma… NOT. My grandpa gave up his prestigious job with one of the top dairies in California and moved the family to Murphys so the whole family – my dad included – could be together. My grandpa was unemployed for awhile, but eventually he was able to get a job as caretaker at the sanatorium that was treating my dad.

When I look at the little I know about my grandpa, I wish I could be more like him – selfless instead of selfish, willing to sacrifice my own ambitions for the sake of my family. Unfortunately I still have a long ways to go…

Spyderco ParaMilitary II vs. Buck Vantage Pro

I just bought a Spyderco Paramilitary II along with a Buck Vantage Pro because I was looking for a good every day carry (EDC) knife and I thought it would be interesting to compare the two. This was my first Spyderco, and based on the cost and online reviews I read, I expected it to be a lot nicer than the Buck. I wasn’t disappinted, the Paramilitary II is a really nice knife…

Blade – the Spyderco Paramilitary II has a full flat ground, drop point blade made from S110V stainless steel (it’s also available with an S30V blade). The cutting edge has a shallower belly than the Vantage Pro and a pointer tip, so it won’t be as good a skinner as the Buck. Also, the overall blade is thicker so it should be stronger and better for “tactical” uses. This makes sense given Spyderco’s history of making tactical (as opposed to hunting) knives. So which is better? I guess it depends on what you’re using it for… for hunting, I give the edge to the Vantage Pro. For more general cutting I think the blade on the Spyderco is better. My only regret on the blade is that after reading about the difficulty of sharpening S110V blades I wish I had bought the S30V version.

Handle/Clip – Both knives have handles (“scales”) made from something called G10. The scales on the Paramilitary II have a very grippy texture with squared edges. This isn’t quite as comfortable to hold than the smooth, rounded scales on the Vantage Pro, but make the Paramilitary II easier to draw than the Buck. The thinness of the scales and clip positioning and tension also help with ease of draw. The clip on the Vantage Pro holds really tight, maybe to the point of being just a little too tight. The Paramilitary II comes set for right hand, point down carry which I found to work really well. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to change to left hand and/or point down carry.

Opening/closing – The Paramilitary II lacks the back edge blade flipper of the Vantage Pro, but it’s not needed. The Spyderco opens very easily one handed using the large thumb hole on the blade, and unlike the Buck knife never needs a sharp wrist flick to lock the blade. The locking tab is on the opposite side of the blade slot, and so far I haven’t had problems with it “over locking” as sometimes happens with the Vantage Pro.

Overall impression – The Spyderco Paramilitary II is a really nice knife. I had to think long and hard before deciding to drop $150 on a pocket knife, but the build quality and smoothness of operation make this knife well worth the cost IMHO. As an EDC knife, I think the Spyderco is better than the Vantage Pro, but if cost is a consideration or you’re looking for something that will double as a hunting knife the Buck isn’t a bad way to go. The S110V blade should hold an edge very nicely, but it will be harder to sharpen other steels. If that is an issue for you but you like the Paramilitary II, you’re in luck because Spyderco also offers this knife with an S30 V blade. For a great price on the Paramilitary II with S110V blade, check here:

SPYDERCO C81GPDBL2 Paramilitary 2 Dark Blue G10 Handle Clip Point Plain

Buck Vantage Pro vs. Spyderco ParaMilitary II

I just bought a Buck Vantage Pro along with a Spyderco ParaMilitary II because I was looking for a good knife for every day carry (EDC) and I thought it would be fun to compare the two. My first real knife was a Buck so I had pretty good hopes for it, but I didn’t think it would be as nice as the Spyderco which costs about twice as much. A little wrong and a little right I guess…

Blade – the Buck Vantage Pro has a hollow ground, drop point blade made from S30V stainless steel with Paul Bos heat treating. The cutting edge has a deeper belly than the Para II which should make it better for skinning an animal. No surprise here given Buck’s long history of making hunting knives. The Para II’s flat ground blade looks a lot stronger than the Buck’s though, and the pointier tip is probably better for puncturing.

Handle/Clip – Both knives have handles (“scales”) made from something called G10. The scales on the Vantage Pro are smooth with rounded edges, and IMO a lot more comfortable than the rough, squared scales on the Para II. The clip on the Vantage Pro holds really tight, maybe to the point of being just a little too tight. It comes set up for right hand, point up carry. You can change it to left hand carry but not point down. Because of the way this knife carries and draws, point up carry seems to work better so this wasn’t an issue for me, but it might be for you.

Opening/closing – The Vantage Pro has a small slot on the blade for thumb opening, and a flipper on the back of the blade if you’d rather start the opening process with you index finger. Whether you use the thumb slot or flipper, it’s going to require a snap of the wrist to get the blade to lock. I also found that sometimes the blade lock locks a little too good and requires some extra attention to get it unlocked.

Overall impression – Some of the reviews on the Vantage Pro complain about the blade not being centered in the handle when it’s closed. Mine wasn’t but since it doesn’t affect cutting or operation, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I haven’t had mine for very long, but I’ve used it to strip thick insulation off of heavy electrical cabling, opened lots of boxes, and processed some pork chops. After all that, the blade was still sharp enough to shave the hair off my arms without pulling. It might not be the perfect EDC knife (neither is the Para II), but at about $62 it’s an incredible deal. For some uses (processing small game, etc) it’s actually better than some more expensive knives thanks to its deep bellied, hollow ground blade. The S30V blade should hold an edge nicely and be easier to sharpen than some of the fancier steels (SV110). You can get a good price on this knife here:

Buck Knives 0347 Vantage Pro Folding Knife

We’re Back…

we-be-backSo much for not paying attention… my web hosting expired (I knew it was coming so no excuses) so my several domains stop working last Friday. Luckily I’d backed up the databases for the important ones, but did nothing else. It took me awhile to get the domains transferred and I’m still trying to figure out the new account interface (cpanel) and domain user scheme. But anyway, we’re back.

As for the garden, we had mixed results but it wasn’t a total failure. We got lots of summer squash throughout the summer and a so-so crop of cherry tomatoes. We also got 8 or 9 butternut squash and 7 pumpkins, but the pumpkins didn’t get ripe before the first heavy frost killed the vines early last week. My salsify experiment was a failure and my wife’s asian bean plants grew into some beautiful and healthy looking vines with lots of blossoms, but no beans. Anyway, hoping next year is better. We got a late start this year, but I have six new planting beds for next summer. I’m going to spend the winter trying to make good soil for them.

The Truth About Guns??? Rock Island Armory GI 1911 part 1

ria-1911-gi I bought my Rock Island Armory (RIA) GI 1911 about three years ago based on a number of positive reviews I read online. For $400, how could I go wrong? Shortly after I got it, I found a very negative review on The Truth About Guns. I’m glad I didn’t see their “review” before I bought the gun because I probably wouldn’t have bought it if I had.

In their review, they had four issues: fit/finish, shooting comfort, reliability, and accuracy. Well, maybe five because it seemed like the reviewer has a problem with RIA, not just the gun he reviewed.

To clear one thing up, whoever wrote the “review” wasn’t reviewing a new gun, but a 3 year old gun that the reviewer didn’t even own…

Dan was kind enough to send me his personal Rock Island Armory GI Standard FS .45ACP, a three-year-old gun with about 500 rounds through it.

Which begs the question… if all the problems about the gun are true, why didn’t the owner send it back to RIA to be fixed under their lifetime warranty? The world may never know…

It’s going to be a few weeks until I get 500 rounds through mine, but I took it out today and my thumb didn’t get cut off by the grip safety tang, and it fed 3 mags without problem. Of course I’m a 1911 newbie, so I guess if I had been shooting it the correct way my hand would be hurting really bad right now.

The cure for Black Rifle Disease

savage-sm

A few years ago I had a case of Black Rifle Disease. It’s not deadly, but it’s expensive, harmful to relationships, and just generally detrimental to your overall well-being. When you have Black Rifle Disease, it is really hard to think about anything other than the Next Black Rifle. Except of course how you could improve your existing black rifles, how you could (or should) have done things differently, what parts you “need” for your black rifles, how to get your wife or significant other to let you buy more black rifles, black rifle parts, ammo, etc…

Well, I may have found a cure for Black Rifle Disease – Precision Long Range Shooting. Unlike Black Rifle Disease, which requires you to keep getting more STUFF all the time to satiate your hunger, Long Range Precision Shooting pretty much mandates that you only have one rifle. After all, the concentration is on learning a single platform and learning to shoot it REALLY WELL. Of course, there is a little experimenting to do… should you get a Savage rifle? If so, which one? A Model 10, which is better quality, or an Axis, which is less expensive and more tempting to modify (because of the low price)? Maybe a Remington 700 would be better. They’re popular with police tactical units and lots of gunsmiths know how to work on them, but you need a lathe and lots of knowledge and skill to do a barrel swap, so maybe a Remington 283? Or maybe a gun built on a custom action…

Then there is caliber to consider… 223 is good to 600 yards or so, but that’s kind of pushing it and most bolt guns in 223 come with a 1:9 twist barrel that won’t stabilize the heavy (77 gr and up) bullets that work best at the longer ranges. Maybe 308? Very popular, but kicks hard. 243 Winchester? Less kick than the 308 but eats barrels pretty fast. The various 6.5 chambered guns kick less than the 308 and are easier on barrels, but which one – 6.5 Creedmoor or 260 Remington?

Then, what bullet? What brand of brass? Powder? Primer? Who makes the best seating die? Maybe need to try a couple and see… What about powder measure? Case trimmer, run-out gauge, and some way to measure cartridge length – OAL and head spacing? Single stage, turret, or progressive press?

Yep, I’ve discovered the cure for Black Rifle Disease…

Fall is here and I love it…

I didn’t realize it when I woke up this morning, but today is the first day of fall and I’m loving it. We’ll have more hot days yet this year, but today was cool, cloudy, it even rained – well, sprinkled – a little bit. Work is going well, and I have a new rifle on the way – a Savage Axis II in 223. Also parts to convert it to 277 Wolverine in the future…

My older son is taking a ceramics class at community college and my younger son just got glasses today. I’m kind of sad he needs glasses at only 11 years old but happy he can see really good now and he’s excited about getting them, so I guess it’s all good.

We got half of the duplex that our ex-tenants trashed finished (finally!!!) and a new tenant in place, the other side should be done by the end of the month and we have a tenant lined up for that side too.

The best news is my wife is buying a new car this month, so that’s wiping out most of the money we’d saved up for the down payment on another rental house. YIPEE!!! I _SO_ need a break from working on houses…

So next 3 or 4 weeks will be really busy finishing up the duplex and getting my wife a new car. After that, well… I’ve got some vacation time saved up at work, hunting season starts at the end of October, and I’m getting back into a hobby that I used to love but haven’t had time for in many years. I take back a previous statement. It’s not all good. It’s fantastic. Have a wonderful autumn:)

EAA Arms Witness – a working man’s gun?

cz75-clone I really need to stay away from sites like Tombstone Tactical… the good deals are going to break me. The other day while looking for something that is NOT a double stack wonder-nine, I stumbled across the European American Armory (EAA) Witness P pistol in 9mm, nice FDE polymer frame, and what look like low-snag sights (dare I say Novak-like???) for less tan $300. Hmmm…

I’m not a fan of 2-speed (aka double action) auto pistols, but supposedly this is a clone of the CZ75 which can safely be carried cocked and locked. For less than $300 I think it’s worth a look so I ordered one today. I told my FFL but haven’t told my wife yet…

So what am I expecting? For $287.44 I’m expecting a duty sized clone of the CZ-75 – a kind of famous Soviet-block pistol in 9mm. The originals had a steel frame, but this clone has a poly frame which will be nice for carry use. Other than that, not expecting much but it will be fun to check it out. I have a range pack (350 rounds) of 9mm Blazer brass case, and it will be a lot of fun to see if it will digest all of it with no (or very few) malfunctions. The size means it’s more of a home defense gun, not a CCW, but they also sell a compact model for only $261.72. Wish I could afford both…

Check them out here…