Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Firearms 101: Gun Safety

Skipping around on our list a little I'd like to talk about firearms briefly. I think every man, and woman, should know a little about guns. You can choose not to own, operate, or use a gun. That's fine. Just accept that you're a sissy. The first thing we need to talk about regardless of type, caliber, capacity or assaultiness of any gun is safety. There are four basic rules laid down by the great Jeff Cooper. If you know nothing else these will take you a long way.

Rule One: All guns are always loaded. 

If you watch regular shooters they will always check that a weapon is clear before handling it even if the person handing it to them just cleared it. You can NEVER be too careful.

Rule Two: Never let the muzzle cover anything that you are not willing to destroy.

Guns are very useful. Guns can be fun to shoot. They kill. Keep your weapon pointed away from people at all times.

Notice the low angle of his barrel pointed away from those around him.

Rule Three: Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

Your brain is your best safety. No finger on the trigger gun no go boom.

No boom.

Rule Four: Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

If you have a bead on Bambi take a glance in the distance for a swathe of orange. 

Now that we've covered the rules, how many is Senator Feinstein breaking in this one picture?

Thursday, May 29, 2014

What is Fitness?

For my first post on manly skills and what not I decided to start with a softball. Fitness. This is a subject that while I can't claim expertise in I at least have journeyman level knowledge of. I've spent close to the last decade educating myself. I even picked up a minor in Physical Education. Don't be too impressed. It was one test and I barely squeaked by. But still, I got some credentials. 

So, what is fitness and why should we care? You should care because nothing is less manly than being an out of shape slob. But defining fitness is more involved. Fitness encompasses strength, cardiovascular endurance, flexibility, agility, and balance among other things. Different attributes lend themselves to different things. A power lifter needs tremendous strength. A marathon runner needs exceptional cardiovascular endurance. But which one is more fit? 

Dean Bowring doing the dang thing. 

Most of you have probably subconsciously picked the marathon runner. You envision the power lifter as obese and the marathon runner as toned. What if I told you that marathon runners suffer heart attacks more often than lifters? We'll get back to that. For now let's say that fitness is the ability to perform a physical task. Easy enough right? Sure. Let's look at the different areas of fitness. 

You can break strength into three main components. Maximal strength, endurance strength and power. Maximal strength is the ability to lift a very heavy weight one time. Think of power lifters lifting incredibly heavy weights in a competition. 

Endurance strength is the ability to perform a set movement for very high repetitions. Think of a gymnast moving their body through as series of complex movements repeatedly. 

Power is the ability to move a set weight very quickly. This is probably best expressed by Olympic lifters cleaning and snatching. 

Just remember ladies, lifting weights will make you look like a man. I hope my sarcasm was apparent. 

Cardiovascular Endurance:
On the surface cardio seems easy. You go run. That's cardio. Except of course it's not. Cardio can be split into two categories, aerobic and anaerobic. Aerobic is cardio performed at a steady pace. Running a 5k for instance. Anaerobic involves faster paced exertion such as sprints. There is far more to this subject involving energy pathways but this post is meant to serve as an overview. 

There is a common misconception that cardio = running. The truth is that anything that gets your heart rate up and leaves you gasping for air has worked your cardio vascular system. Running, walking, skipping rope, riding a bike or even swinging a sledgehammer are all potential cardiovascular exercises. 

Flexibility or limberness refers to the absolute range of motion in a joint or series of joints, and length in muscles that cross the joints.

Irina Tchchina just chillin around the house. NBD. 

We find flexibility, along with balance, expressed in gymnastics, yoga and dance. 

Balance is the ability to maintain the line of gravity of a body within the base of support with minimal postural sway. In layman's terms, not fall down. 

I'm not drinking from that bottle after this act. 

As stated above balance shows up in gymnastics, yoga and dance. One wouldn't think it but a highly developed sense of balance is also vital to good form in weightlifting. 

Agility is the ability to quickly change directions. You see this every Friday night during football season. A running back needs speed and agility to evade the opposition and make a touchdown. 

Hey Marcus, just for you it's a Duck. 

Speed is the art of getting from point A to point B in the least amount of time possible. 

Coordination is simply getting all of your body parts and movements to work together smoothly. This is probably the simplest yet most vital attribute of fitness.  

Body Composition:
Body comp refers to what your muscle to far percentages are. Obviously being lean is ideal for most sports. Notice I said lean not skinny. Lean means low body fat and as much muscle as you can pack on. 

You can see the synergy and crossover of these different attributes. A healthy cardiovascular system can help with your endurance strength which in turn will train your body to flush away lactic acid quicker. Balance will help with Olympic lifts which can lead to greater strength and power. Speed and agility are close cousins. 

So what is most important? Well, what are your goals? Getting thin? Playing football? Gymnastics? Running? All of those goals call for slightly different training. There is one place that all of them need to start however and that is with strength training. Strength is the base of all human endeavors from sprinting to moving a couch. In the next post in this series we'll delve deeper into strength training, methodologies, terms and techniques. Each attribute will be the focus of its own blog post down the line. 


Friday, May 9, 2014

New Direction

I've been thinking for awhile about taking my blog in a new direction. The biggest issue with decision is that it never had a direction to begin with. I ramble a lot about writing. Occasionally I do a review of a tv show or book. I just don't have a niche to work in that will draw readers back regularly. 

What I do have is an eclectic personality that loves to learn and loves to share that knowledge. In all of my internet searching I've found several men's lifestyle sites that I enjoy frequenting. My personal favorite is I realized that I love that format but I'm far from an expert in these kinda of things. I'm definitely not knowledgeable about men's fashion. A polo and jeans and I'm as dressed up as I ever get. And that's when it occurred to me where I wanted to go.

I'm not an expert. I'm not even a novice at most things. But I do love to learn and try new things and I'm sure that there are other men out there like me who would enjoy watching me relay what I learn. The next question was where to start.

Amidst all of my searching I found a list of manly skills written by Robert Littell in 1933. Writing for Harper's Magazine he composed a list of things that he felt every young man should know. Some of them are a little dated but I feel that most of them are still valid. Here is what Mr. Littell considers of most importance. 

  • Swim
  • Handle firearms
  • Speak in public
  • Cook
  • Typewrite
  • Ride a horse
  • Drive a car
  • Dance
  • Drink
  • And speak at least one foreign language well
Now, we can probably agree that horse riding isn't as relevant for the modern gentleman as it once was. Also, driving a car is so ubiquitous to the American lifestyle I think we can scratch it off the list. That still leaves us a nice little, see what I did there, list of things to work on. Some of them I have experience with but I'm far from an expert at any of them. I would also like to add to and expand on this list. Here is what I think every man should know how to do. 

  • Swim
  • Handle firearms
  • Speak in public
  • Cook
  • Typewrite
  • Sew
  • Defend himself
  • Dance
  • Drink
  • And speak at least one foreign language well
  • Be fit
  • Handle tools/small projects 
  • Play an instrument
  • Hunt
  • Make a budget
  • Have a hobby
It's important look dapper while defending oneself. 

Ok, that seems like a much more extensive list but I think a lot of it can be grouped into categories. 

  • Fitness- swimming, weightlifting, etc. 
  • Self Defense- firearms
  • Life Skills- cooking, sewing, typewriting, making a budget and the occasional drink. 
  • Crafts- tools, projects
  • Hobbies- dancing, musical instruments.
  • Speak a foreign language. 
  • Hunt- what could be more manly?
Ok, that seems a little more manageable. Like I said, I can do a few things on this list. Obviously I play an instrument and my wife will tell you that I have too many hobbies. I can cook well enough if I have a recipe but my craft skills are beginner level at best. And dancing? Forget about it. 

I have never looked this happy while doing carpentry. 

So here is my goal for life which is to be chronicled in this blog. I want to start tackling this list. It would certainly behoove me to learn another language. I would also love to be more self sufficient with skills like sewing. I have several pants missing buttons that I can practice on. You can look for simple projects to tackle yourself. You'll get to see my mistakes as a newbie hunter and hopefully learn from them. 

Step one. Blend in. Got it. 

If you have been enjoying my reviews fear not, I intend to keep them up. I've spun them off into a new blog at I will be getting back to Blakes 7 soon enough. I've also been putting in time watching Farscape by request from my brother in law and I've got my wife hooked on The Unit. 

Ok, that's all for now. I have a wedding to get to and a list of manly skills to learn. Happy Mother's Day weekend to you all. Stay manly. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Morakniv HighQ

Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a knife guy. I think that after the discovery of fire and the invention of the wheel the knife was and is mankinds greatest tool. I'm the first person people turn to when they need a knife. 

Typically I'm a big pocket knife guy but lately I've been in the market for a new fixed blade. Why the sudden interest in a belt knife? I'm glad you asked. My wife and I have been watching Naked and Afraid lately. If you aren't familiar with the show it's in essence a survival show where two experts, a man and a woman, are dropped somewhere nasty naked with only one tool apiece. 

Now, I have no desire to try to survive for three weeks naked in the jungle but it did get me thinking. If I could only have one tool what would I take. I debated a hatchet but that seemed limited to me. Great for chopping but not so good at skinning, carving or other fine work. Likewise for a machete just even less useful for chopping down trees. Thinking back to another favorite survival show Dual Survival, luckily this one is fully clothed, I remembered Cody Lundin doing a multitude of tasks with a knife. It's a medium sized, fixed blade that he where's around his neck. 

Ok, we've settled on a knife. But what kind of knife? This is still a mental exercise by this point mind you. I turned to Cold Steel knives for ideas. Cold Steel makes excellent products at a wide variety of prices but I still couldn't pick one. Next I turned to The Truth About Knives. That's an excellent blog if you are into knives. Very informative and entertaining. One of the first posts I read was about a Mora knife. The editors of this particular blog were quickly shown to be huge fans of these knives so I figured I'd research further. A few days of reading and I had to bite and order myself one. It came in today and I'm in love. 

Now THATS a knife! 

I got it from Amazon. Ordered it on Monday and it was waiting for me when I got home today. Hurray for Amazon Prime! I immediately pulled it out and tested the edge. It slid through cardboard with minimal effort and sliced almost as well. Next I found a scrap of maple to carve on. It bit into the wood well taking off thin slices of wood with each pass. I made a few notches to see how well it went and I was very pleased. 

Since this is an all purpose knife I expect to have it on my belt in the woods quite a bit. I threw it on my belt while I took the dogs out just to see how it felt. The weight is negligible. The sheath is kind of a cheap plastic but it's designed fairly well. It clips onto a belt easily but once there it's tough to get off. It also has a clip system to attach other mora knives to the sheath. If and when I get another I'll show how that works. 

All in all I'm well pleased so far. It's a tough carbon steel. It has a nice robust spine that supposedly holds up well to batoning but I didn't get a chance to try that out. It has a scandi edge that all the reviews say takes and holds an edge well. Obviously I haven't had to sharpen it yet so we shall see. The only con I can see is that it had a rat tail instead of a full tang. According to every review I've seen that doesn't seem to affect it's performance. And all for the low price of $10. That's right. It's not much more than a meal at McDonalds. At that price I had to give it a try. Now let's hope if I'm ever stranded naked on a deserted island I have my knife with me. 

The handle fits my grip well and is slip resistant. 

That's a nice thick edge. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Blakes 7 Re-Watch: Shadow


Where can I watch it?

Welcome to a review almost a year in the making. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to finish it. Life has been busy and is just now slowing down a little. Little being the key word. It didn't help that this episode was not my favorite. It's also highly likely that I'll be moving this series of reviews to my website and completing it there. Ok, without further ado, I present Shadow. 

Shadow is the first episode in my opinion that shows Blake's growing obsession with the destruction of the Federation. In this particular episode we see him attempting to strike a deal with a criminal outfit known as the Terra Nostra, a play on Cosa Nostra. The Terra Nostra is a large syndicate with their slimy little fingers in many a rancid pie. Their primary act of evil however is the drug Shadow. Thus the title. Shadow is essentially space meth. 

You got any more of that space meth?

Everyone is more or less on board with Blake's plane except for Gan. Imagine that. The slow one is the only person who can see that this isn't going to end well. 

Blake, I don't think that this will end well. 

Vila is onboard with negotiating with the Terra Nostra as long as he gets to visit Space City, or as he refers to it as The Satelite of Sin. As you can guess the crew thinks that's the worst plan since Bugs Bunny's Crazy Castle 2. Just wait though, hijinks will ensue. 

The episode actually opens with two addicts robbing Largo, a Terra Nostra operative, of his supply of shadow. What's interesting in a sci fi show of this time is the bleak outlook on the future. We see people still selling and taking drugs. People ruined and even dying from it's use. In Star Trek addiction has long since been stamped out. Not here in the Blake verse. 

And there is the crux of the episode. Blake is willing to make a deal with essentially the space mob to overthrow the federation. A case of the cure possibly being worse than the disease. Blake, Avon, Gan and Jenna teleport down to meet with Largo. Meanwhile Villa is unsuccessful in convincing Callie to help him sneak down himself. Until he remembers that he can use Orac to operate the teleport. An Orac who makes some sinister remarks that Villa is oblivious to. 

We learn that Jenna was arrested shortly after refusing to carry Shadow for Largo. The implication being that they can even influence officials if you cross them. Of course Largo quickly betrays our crew and captures them.

Who would think that this man couldn't be trusted. 

If only someone had remained on board to possibly rescue them. Too bad Villa has teleported down to the planet and hidden Orac somewhere in the Liberator. An Orac who is starting to interfere with Zen and the ship. 

Through some telepathic shenanigans Blake let's Cally know that trouble is afoot. Luckily Callie is smarter than Villa. She regains control of Liberator just as Blake and his crew escape. After some consideration they decide to save a pair of junkies when they escape. Blake, however still isn't convinced that the Terra Nostra is bad news. He's just prepared to force them to help. Sure. That'll work well. 

About now Callie, who is searching for Orac, gets "a bad feeling" and winds up in a bit of a pickle herself. Orac traps Callie mentally inside his boxy, glowing mind. No. Seriously. 

Didn't I see this in an Aha video once?

Blake decides that the quickest path to get his way is to attack the Terra Nostra's chief product Shadow. Hurray for space cartel wars! They track the drugs origin back to a desert planet where moon discs are grown and processed. You read that right. Moon discs. Not just moon discs though. Telepathic moon discs.

No, seriously. 

Blake, Jenna and Avon teleport down to yet another quarry to scope it out and make snarky comments to each other. Villa wakes up from an alcohol induced coma and proceeds to lumber around like a zombie. And Callie sleep runs, at Orac's bidding, through the ship to teleport down to the planet where she collapses from the heat. 

It's about this time that Villa and Gan finally realize something is going on with Orac. Orac takes over the Liberator and sends it spiraling towards the planet. Unfortunately trying to unplug him kills the female junkie whose name isn't important enough to remember. We knew she was going to die. Extras very rarely survive the episode. 

It seems an Interdimensional alien is using Orac to invade our universe. What's the answer to all of this? Moon discs of course! Telepathic moon rocks. Between Callie and the Moon Discs, great band name by the way, combined power they are able to defeat the Dark Lord. Er, Interdimensional alien.  Whatever. 

Telepathic moon rocks. It's the new it thing in California. 

Hurray! All is well! Sorta. Avon rigs Orac to blow if another attempt to take over happens. Oh, and we learn that Avon took an ID card off of a guard on the planet that identifies him as Federation security. What?? Twist! Mind blown. 

Final Thoughts:
While the episode had some good points, the aforementioned new obsessive Blake, overall it was a little confused. Blake shows in this episode that he is willing to make deals with the devil and is showing less concern for the safety of his crew. The twist that the federation has control of the major criminal organization was nice although it could have been explored more deeply. That's a clever way to deal with a possible source of trouble though. Control it. And it's showing to me that both the villains and the heroes are willing to go to the same lengths to win. The subplot just doesn't work well however. Neither does Orac's apparent superpowers that never show up again. And come on, moon rocks ?

Rating: 2.5
Memorable Quote:
Gan: I Can't find Orac. Even tried calling his name.
Avon: Oh, I'm sorry I missed that. It's the kind of natural stupidity no amount of training could ever hope to match.

Coffee of the Day:
Starbucks Cafe Verona. From their website. 

The Story of Caffè Verona®
This is a coffee of one true love, and three names. We created it just for a Seattle restaurant in 1975, naming it Jake’s Blend. And people loved it. So many, in fact, that we began hand scooping and blending it to order in our stores, where it was known as 80/20 Blend, for the recipe. The love was so strong we finally made it official, calling it Caffè Verona® after the city that inspires so many. By any name, this is a thing of pure romance.

Body: Full
Acidity: Low
Processing: Washed & Semi-Washed

By any name this blend is dark with a hint of cocoa. Just the way I like it. With a splash of almond milk and a level scoop of coconut sugar it's freaking delicious. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

B7 Re-Watch: Redemption


Where can I watch it?

Season 2 picks up right where season 1 left off. Blake is busy analyzing Orac's prediction trying to find a way to prevent it. He enlists Avon's grudging help. I say grudging because systems are starting to act up on Liberator beginning with the long range sensors. Avon casually points out that the location of the ships destruction can be ascertained from the background of the video. All they have to do is never go there and everything will be A ok. Because it's just that easy. 

Remember those malfunctions? Well it's not going to be that easy. The ship has more malfunctions than a new Windows update including taking off at full speed across the galaxy. At the same time tiny hypodermic needles attack them. 

Resistance is futile. You will be inoculated. 

The alien ships manage to knockout most of the ships systems before boarding. The crew is easily incapacitated and the ship is captured. It turns out their attackers are the Liberators builders The System. At which point they take Deep Space Vehicle 1, their name for Liberator, home. 

Again with the sexual symbolism guys?

Who is the System? I'm still not completely sure honestly. We do learn that they are a highly computerized, technologically advanced race from a tiny little star system. No really. We learn that there are only three planets on their system. Now, with such limited resources we're expected to believe that they're churning out ships like Liberator. Sure. Oh, they also look like angry space pixies. 

I've got your fairy dust right here. 

They take time to interrogate, some would call it torture, members of the Blake. The rest of the crew is locked in seperate cells to contemplate their fate. Luckily Vila has magic powers and picks the lock with no tools whatsoever. 

Blake's O face. 

Blake meets a slave of the System who gives him what little information we learn about the System. He helps them escape back to Liberator and of course gets killed in the process. Hey, that's just what we do in B7. 

The system slave retirement plan is shite but the dental plan is excellent. 

Liberator blasts off but the System's ships are in hot pursuit. DSV2 is launched to pursue them and the rebel crew decides that they just can't win and might as well give up. Blake is in a tizzy trying to facilitate an escape but the crew is feeling particularly nihilistic today. 

Although honestly this chick would scare me silly too. It's the snake eyes. They mesmerize you. 

Luckily Orac saves the day by blowing up DSV2 and therefore keeping his prophecy from being invalidated. He's still a D bag however. 

Who left the oven on?

The crew makes good their escape and never again shall we hear of the system. Next up is Shadow. A story of drugs, betrayal and rebellion. 

Final Thoughts:
I enjoyed Redemption quite a lot but would have liked more out of it. I think several questions never get answered that should have been. As I've been asking, how does Zen know so much about the Federation? Who was the System fighting when Liberator was originally abandoned? What took them song to come looking for it? These are things that could have been explored better I think. Still, what we do get is a pretty good story.

Rating: 4 out of 5. 

Memorable Quote:
Vila: When you get Zen working, ask him to prescribe something for a headache, will you? I've got this shocking pain right behind the eyes.
Avon: Have you considered amputation?

Coffee of the Day:
Tully's Hawaiian Blend. Good blend. Medium roast. Not as good as the Community French Roast but a nice change of pace. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Monday, oh lord Monday.

Well, I thought I was better. Dragged myself out of bed and off to work. Around 11:00 I turned right around and came home. It's interesting being sick as a teacher. In almost any other job you call your boss and say "hey, I'm sick". If you're a teacher, at least at my school, you call and find a sub. Then you call said boss. In today's case I had to call two supervisors, find a sub for one class, find someone to cover concession stand duty, get my power hour covered and then got to leave. 

Made it home and called AT&T back about our internet. Got off the phone with them just as the technician pulled up. Nice guy. Replaced our modem and called it good. Too bad our router needed replacing as well. Luckily my wife was up to the challenge. So while I collapsed on the couch she went to Best Buy and brought home "The Beast". 

This bad boy is awesome. Took flipping forever to get everything set up but now I'm sprawled out watching some Who. Good times all around. Needless to say no exercising, building or community band happened today. So much for 14.3

Tomorrow is the ACT. I'm supposedly a runner. Hopefully that will mean a little time to write and edit. The plan is to upload issue 2 tomorrow evening when I get home. It can't be done at school anymore. The smart filter plays havoc with Amazons KDP platform. Oddly enough though the Nook Press works swimmingly. Smashwords is right out though. Way too much smut to get through. 

On another note though Hannah and I have signed up for a Warrior Dash in Mississippi. What is a Warrior Dash? I'm glad you asked. 

Yeah, this is gonna be a blast. Going to have to double down on my training to get ready for this. Now if I can just shake this sinus infection so I can get to it.