My body has traveled a long way and some of the roads weren't paved

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Time was many years back, Michigan License plates called out "Winter Wonderland" in the late '60s.

Maybe due to Global warming or a general lack connection to the outdoors, people here seem to have forgotten that.

Made plans earlier this week with a few guys from work to load up our sleds and head north a few hours for some good sled riding.
After a few more days of heavy snow, we decided hey, why not just stay right here and go ride. I measured and we have 17" of packed down snow outside.
The local loop of the state snowmobile trail goes just a 1/2 past my house and people are routinely taking high speed shortcuts down our road.
Now, I've never done any real riding before. Mostly just around the yard.
With my shoulders still on the mend I was definitely very apprehensive but I said screw it, I'm tired of being worried. And I really appreciated the guys inviting me, they're serious riders.
Worked out for me well, we met at my house, unloaded and rode out right from here.

The group consensus was this was one of their best rides ever.

An encouraging start
On the crisp side but very clear with a bit of sun from time to time.
The trails weren't beaten up yet, trees were full of snow and there was nice base down. Even got to be the first ones to ride on a recently groomed section. A real nice mix of tight wooded trails and wide open farmlands. Really makes you appreciate the easements the farmers have granted nd the work it takes in setting and maitaining everything. Any alomost everyone you pass on the trail gives a hearty wave. Very nice to see.
When we left I was using a new helmet that hadn't been completely fitted up. As soon as we left my face shield iced up and seeing was a major problem.
Ever leave for work and not fully scrape or heat up your windshield? Now hit the trail on a rocket. These guys were like kids having been cooped up all winter and let it hang out as soon as they hit the trail. 40-50mph was the average speed for the first hour before we even stopped.
I certainly appreciated being asked to come along so I wasn't going to ask them to stop. Made for some nervous moments. Eventually we got the helmet figured out, chalked it up to a shakedown run and then got down to some serious riding.
We started North of Allegan and headed south towards Fennville. The trail follows the river from a high bluff at one point and was absolutely majestic. I'd have love to take more pictures but as I say these guys are serious riders, not sightseers. May have to go back and get that shot.
But from time to time, I was able to snap a few.

The trail was so great, the next thing we new we were already next to Timberidge ski slope. We weren't even sure at first. "Did we really go that far already?"So we hopped on the Kalhaven trail (marvelous trail) and rode all the way to Gobles to stop for lunch.
We then turned around and headed back, taking a different loop out east of Allegan and coming back in to Hamilton again. All told I think we did just over 120 miles.

Might not seem like much driving a car but we left at 9AM (and at the highest possible average speed) finally returning at 3:30. With only the short break for lunch almost all of that time was on the trail .
Fire up the wooden sled!

Open her up!

And as for my shoulders? Not a problem at all! Fortuitously, the riding position seems to line everything up physically and I could actually feel all the therapy work coming into play and paying off. Didn't even get tired or sore until maybe the final hour.

If I'm not careful, this could become a serious past time.

Assuming we get snow again.

Friday, January 18, 2008

News Alert

We're currently under yet another Weather Alert. There's an arctic blast coming with some storm front and accompanying that is a bunch of snow.
Big Friggin deal. It's Michigan, yeah I expect that.
I see a new trend happening here. Anything bad happens, well the news wants to make sure their ass is covered. "Hey we let you know first, it's not our fault you had to shovel two inches of snow."
I signed up for weather alerts by email from the local news stations weather dept. I swear, the National Weather Service became a bunch of tools after Katrina. Any little hickup in the weather, it's a bloody alert. And of course the News station sends it on.
It started to get cold around 7PM last night.
The stupid ALERT came out THE DAY BEFORE!
The is the next step after 911 and the rolling news feed at the bottom of CNN. Every other day I turn on the TV and if the weather punk hasn't interupted to show us the radar, there's a little map of all the warnings on the bottom of the screen obscuring what's being already broadcast.
Can't switch to my digital recorder fast enough. Gawd, I love that thing.
Here's Lewis Black talking about the news feeds ON CNN btw.

It's supposed to be cold and snow a bunch in the next couple of days.
Yeah, so?
I guess there's only one thing to do.

Fire up the new sled

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another practice sword

Mahogany version of the Kris - safe for locations where the flash of metal makes folks nervous. ;-)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The new phone books are in! The new books are in!!!

"Things are going to happen to me now!!!"

Quick Bobbe, what's the reference?

Picked up the first run of the new class shirts last night.

Felt pretty sick when I got there and probably worse right now.

But for a few hours there, all was right with the world.

These rock!!!!!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Practice Sword 101

There's alot of guys out there making training/practice swords and charging a fair amount for them. Rightly so, many of the are very nice items. Seen some junk too.
Jeff Finder makes some beautiful stuff, by hand but the attention to detail and finish is superb.

Bill Bednarick is another one. Great stuff, a bit more automated (for a reason) and very usable. Great balance, ect. I've got his talibong trainer.
Me? I'll make my own thank-you. As Bobbe loves to remind me, Ja I'm Dutch.
I'd absolutely love to get one of Jeff's new ones but the Dutch in me says nah, you can make your own.

I'm in the process of making my own Moro Kris.
Why you might ask? Well, it seems my son Cole and I will once again be making the journey and signing up to compete in the WEKAF US Nationals, February in LA.
Now, I still can't fight competitively due to the continual recovery but I could do Sayaw. Spirit is willing but common sense overrules thank goodness. Just not ready to do that kind of conditioning right now either.
I'll be doing a Moro Kris and Scabbard form. Should be interesting to say the least.

Cole on the other hand hates forms, drilling and anything else repetitious. He just wants to get it on.
When I asked if he wanted to go he said "OK, sure". Not any trepidation or second thoughts. That's my boy.

I thought I'd detail my low tech approach to practice sword making.

First procure the Aluminum. Me, any scrap will do. I can always make another. Hardened aluminum is great if you're not Dutch. I've been working off the same huge slab I procured when they were throwing it away at the factory I worked in years ago.
Design is probably the hardest part. If it doesn't float your boat feel wise, what a waste. I know Bill has modeled his right off some from Buzz's gorgeous collection. Can't go wrong there.
In this case, I had a blade shape I liked and a handle shape I liked so I combined them in a drawing

The top one was a gift from Bobbe. I love the blade but our Moro style has more downward curve to the handle that changes some of the movements. The second one is the Ash practice sword made by Mushtaq. It smarts when you get hit in the temple by the way. And dig the handle wrap.
If I'm not certain how a particular design will feel, I'll often make it our of 3/4" plywood first.
Once you draw it out and trace it to the Aluminum, do a rough cut with the sabre saw and a metal blade. WEAR GLASSES!

After the initial cut, it's much easier to handle for the more detailed cuts. Clamp that sucker to the bench and start cutting. Always cut the inside curves big and unless your certain of your handle, cut that oversize as well. It will take some trial and error removing more and more till you get the feel where you want. Feel is critical before moving on.

Here's the finished blank. I get the final shape through a combination of various hand files and more recently added a cheap belt sander. Boy that saves time. I usually sand out any bad scratches with 220, then 600 grit, finishing with a 3M scratch pad.

After that a nice polish with Mother's Aluminum Mag wheel polish. Best thing I've found for Aluminum. NevRdull is good but Mother's leaves a better coating.

Next find blanks of a prefered wood. I prefer Mahogany. Zebrawood is nice too though.

Mahogany has a nice tight grain yet isn't so hard that it takes forever to work.
Glue the handle blanks on with a two part epoxy and let them sit overnight. Then use the belt sander to match the wood exactly to the metal handle shape profile.

Next start shaping the handle. Best to use a hand file at this point. Easier to take more off than put it back.

Finally finish with the product of your choice. And there's alot of them depending on your preference. Tung Oil on Mahogany has always been good for me. It gives a nice darkness to the wood, brings out any grain and yet still leaves the wood slightly porous so it doesn't become slippery when you sweat.

Of special significance on this particular blade is the kewl guard wrap applied by Mushtaq. After wrapping I applied a light coating of 5min epoxy with a cheap brush, working it in until the epoxy set.

The finished work!!!!!

And a few more of my previous stuff.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Years Day snow

Woke up to this on New Year's morning:

Had to be treacherous for the fools leaving the bar at 2am.

The dogs certainly thought it was a winter playland.

This spectacular sight is why we live out here!

We got another 6" inches overnight (in 2 hours). More fun with the snowmobile.!

Having your expectations adjusted

Sunday Mariah and I decided to end training by gearing up and doing a little free sparring. Now I haven't really sparred in 18months. Mariah and I sparred back in Sept but that was more controlled giving her an aggressive opponent to work new combos on at 70%. So that was all I had to go on as to where she is at.
Cole and I sparred last week but he hadn't sparred in about 18 mos either so that was a bad example to gauge Mariah by.
I admittedly made instructor mistake #1 when sparring, underestimating your opponent.
I went in light and easy planning to shake off the cobwebs, probably even subconsciously expected to play a little.

Then this happens (watch for the nice left hand trap/glove strip/counter). And Damn! she hits hard now.

The hoot in the background at the end is my student Chris, one of the top Commando Krav Maga instructors in the US.