For 2019…

2019 the big messI don’t do New Years resolutions but I do have a lot of things planned for 2019. My brother and sister in-law got us going pretty good before they went back to China and I want to keep that going. It’s hard to believe we got so complacent over the years and them giving us a kick in the butt was a good thing. I have a problem with making to-do lists because I put too much stuff on them then nothing gets done. But here are some things i hope to get done in 2019…

Health, studies, and home…

I really need to lose about 20 lbs and get in shape. The funny thing is, when I asked my 13 year old what he wants for Christmas this year he said weights and a punching bag. Really? OK I can love that idea. I don’t know where it came from but it’s a great idea. Something the whole family can do together. I don’t have a place to put it so I even decided to do something I swore I’d never do – give up my train table. It takes up a lot of space (hard to believe how big a 4×8 table seems when it’s in your living room) and if I get rid of it we’ll have plenty of room for a punching bag and a weight bench. Also more room to play ping pong…

Last year I got my technician class amateur radio license and started studying for my general class license but never finished. For 2019 I want to get my general class license. Also need to finish my FEMA training so I don’t get kicked out of CERT, and I want to learn to speak some Chinese.

As for home, other than cleaning and organizing there’s not a whole lot of things. I do want to convert our entry hall closet into a second pantry and do a lot of cooking and canning. Maybe even start brewing my own beer.

Yard

My brother and sister gave us a pretty good start on the yard, especially the back yard. We’ve got a nice shed put up (still need to finish the siding) and a chicken coop built (still need to put up a chicken run). My brother also helped me get rid of a huge bush in the front yard so we’d have room for a couple grape vines. So first things will be to finish the shed and chicken run.

When it gets warm next spring I want to put in a couple of grape vines. Hopefully we’ll get a lot earlier start on the garden than we did this year. We’ve got re-bar and PVC hoops over most of the raised beds so I’ll be able to put up Agribon after the last snow. I also want to build an automatic watering system, a water collection system, and put in a fire pit. IF there is time I’d also like to build a rabbit hutch.

Planes, trains, and automobiles…

I have a drone I started and never finished so I need to get that done. I also want to restore one of my grandpa’s control line airplanes. Maybe fly some model rockets with my son…

I’m giving up my train table but not giving up on having a layout. I want to put up a shelf layout in the garage, or at least have a portable switching layout.

I need to get my Buick running. Actually I have 4 vehicles i need to get running but I’ll settle for 2 running by the end of 2019 – the Buick and my dad’s old pickup. Speaking of which, I’ll need to take a road trip to get it. I’ve given up hope of getting my Barracuda running any time soon but I need to at least get it cleaned out (it’s being used as a storage container) and get the engine pulled. Maybe it will be running in 2020…

The Man Cave

I’m in the middle of cleaning and organizing my garage (a.k.a. the Man Cave). I just got a drill press and a band saw so i need to make room for them. I also have a router but I never put up a router table so I’ll need to do that. I haven’t decided whether to put my sewing machine in the garage or the house, but if it goes in the Man Cave I’ll need to make more room.

 

My Family

brother in law and older sonThis past June (June 26) I got to meet part of my family for the first time. My wife’s sister and her husband came here from China. I guess technically they’re my brother-in-law and sister-in-law. I just call them brother and sister. Part of my family. They’ve been living with us and I hope they stay. My brother is home sick for China so they’re talking about going back after the first of the year. My sister plans to come back here after a visit but my brother isn’t sure. I hope they do come back.

Update, November 29

My brother and sister went back to China today. Their flight left at 6:00 am so we had to get up about 4:00. I knew I’d be tired so I took today and tomorrow off from work. It was pouring rain on the way to the airport. Really glad it wasn’t snowing. I thought I was going to be really sad but I did OK. The house sure seems quiet now though…

Update, November 30

Got word that they arrived safely in China. They have some app to do live streaming video between their cell phones and my wife’s iPad so we got to see them. Wife said sister is coming back for sure because she doesn’t want to lose her green card. Brother – not sure but I’ll be working to get things going so he WANTS to come back.

Garden 2018

Last year’s garden was even worse than our 2016 garden. We only got summer squash (zephyr and zucchini), some okra, and a few cherry tomatoes. Mostly I think it was because we planted too late. Also, our winter squash was planted in the ground instead of our raised beds, and the soil in our yard basically sucks. This year should be a lot better. I’m putting in six new raised beds and we’re starting the seeds a lot earlier. Except for some zucchini and zephyr squash, everything we’re planting this year will be open pollinated, heirloom varieties. I don’t know if I’ll have room for everything. We have seeds for cherry tomatoes (Indigo Blue Berries and Chocolate), corn (Hopi Blue and Stowell’s Evergreen), beets (Chioggia), summer squash (Zuchinno Rampicante), winter squash (f, f, and f), beans (), okra (), and carrots. We also have 3 beds of garlic that we planted last fall, 2 fig trees (in pots), and 4 blackberry plants. Oh, and some potatoes.

Most of the work I’ve gotten done so far has just been yard cleanup and getting rid of all the sucker roots from the locust tree we cut down 2 years ago. I hope to get most of the seeds started this weekend and get the new beds built between the 19th and 21st of this month. I also need to get some large planters because I don’t think everything will fit in the wood beds.

We’re also going to try a few new things this year. I just finished 2 really simple worm beds and put red wigglers in one and European night crawlers in the other. Once the weather warms up a bit the wigglers will go into one of the raised beds and the crawlers will go into the one place in my yards that has decent soil. I found a good video on YouTube about raising carrots in a pot – something I didn’t think was practical – so we’re going to try that. We also plan on having some upside down tomatoes. And hopefully, either ducks or rabbits before the end of the season.

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.