Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Now that the rant is out of the way...

I have seriously neglected this blog. It's horrible that I started this thing to express my mind to the world, and yet I still somehow manage to keep them to myself. Lots of things have changed since June:

Waking The Giant (Rant About Knee-Jerk Reactions)

After 6 months of silence on this blog, I finally realized that I haven't updated in FOREVER. Of course this means I have a soapbox to stand up on and rant about...

Friday, June 10, 2011

Introduction: How We Survived The Zombie Apocalypse

So, this was originally a dream I had a few months ago, which I wrote down on paper, which I intended to post as a short story.

That's not going to happen.

Unfortunately, my overactive imagination gets the best of me, and I start adding things that originally weren't in the dream, so they make more sense. This in turn makes the story longer, and before I know it, I've gone from a short two-page story, to a twenty page digital book. This means two things:

1. Cut content to make it back into a short story

2. Keep it the same length, but split it into chapters (or episodes, if you prefer), that will be released weekly.

I choose the second option.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Every Day Carry (EDC)

One of the things Nemesis got me into was the EDC blog. If you don't know what it is, I'd encourage you to clicky the linky and find out for yourself. I won't bother explaining here, because EDC can do that better than I.

So, here's mine!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Review: Maglite XL50

About a month or two ago, Nemesis and I were talking about EDC flashlights and candlepowers and such. The only flashlights I owned at the time were a 2-cell LED Maglite that sat in my truck's door pocket, a 3 or 4 of cheap-o LED lights that you find at parts stores on sale 2/$5, and a bright yellow Never-ready that came in a "severe cold weather vehicle kit" that I got as a door prize from a car show a few years back. I wasn't completely sure if any of these lights had good batteries in them, and the thought that I might need them in an emergency situation never really crossed my mind. I mean, I always checked to see if my Maglite was working, because it has come in handy a couple times in the past - but what if I needed a light, and my truck wasn't nearby? Also, what would I do if someone broke into the house at night? I had intended to purchase a weapon-mounted light for my M&P (review soon to come) just for that purpose, but what if the noises I heard were my grandparents? I most certainly wouldn't want to be pointing a loaded gun at either one of them just to get enough light to identify them.

These questions really made me start thinking about investing in an EDC light of some form, so I took to doing some research.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Right then!

I really need to get cracking on the updates!
Here's an idea of what's to come, in no specific order:

An EDC post (AKA "pocket dump")
Review: Maglite XL50
Review: Droid 2 Global (along with comparison to the Droid 1)
Review: Smith & Wesson M&P compact (as soon as I finish filming and editing the video review)
Review: Holsters - N82 Tactical and Blackhawk CQC Serpa
Review: 1994 Isuzu Trooper (yes, I am serious)
Short Story: How we survived the zombie apocalypse
Introduction: A yet un-named Sci-fi series I'm currently writing
Opinion: Why driving tests should be harder

And finally,

Random Thought! Everyone has thought at some point or another what they would do if they had X-amount of dollars. I've thought of it multiple times. Buy every random toy you can think of, donate some of it to church or charity, give some to your family, etc.

Have you ever sat down and tried to see how much you could with what you have now?

I took the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University class not too long ago, and some of the things he stressed was budgeting, saving up for emergency funds, retirements and investments, and ditching your debt. Since then, I've been trying to live pretty tight with my minimum wage income. I'm not even "making it" by today's standards; I live with my grandparents in their house, I sometimes get my bills paid on time, and a good third of my paycheck goes straight to my truck's fuel tank. I can think of only one other time in my life where I made less money (being unemployed doesn't count), and yet I'm never completely broke. Haven't been for months.

Know why?

Planning! One of the first things Dave hammers into your head is that you have to make your money work FOR you. When I did my first budget, I was almost disgusted with how much money I was hemorrhaging - and I never realized it until that point.

So for today's random thought, I say this: If you find yourself asking where all your money went, try to sit down and write everything you've spent down on paper.

I will not lie, it's INCREDIBLY boring, and I promise you'll ask yourself why you're wasting your time at least 15 times... minimum. Do it anyway. Your results will probably surprise you, and you'll start thanking yourself when the bank stops sending you overdraft notices.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: Gerber Paraframe

So, one of the things I intend to do with this blog is do reviews of things I pick up here and there. I'm one of those people who has been burned by crappy products in the past, and now when they are going to spend more than $10 for an item, they're going to search high and low for people's opinions on whatever that item is. With that in mind, I'd like to share my $0.02.

I picked up my Gerber Paraframe from Wal-Mart about mid-April upon the recommendation of a friend. At the time I was looking for a quality lightweight carry knife, and had been looking at a few of the expensive options out there, wishing I had the cash on hand to buy them. The Paraframe cost $21, and at first I was skeptical; I've owned knives cheaper than $50 before, and they almost always broke or dulled quickly. One Scheffield knife I bought from Autozone a few years back comes to mind: I paid $30 for it, and it came dull out of the box. What's worse, the one I exchanged it for was dull too! 3rd time was a charm, but it wasn't long before the wood grips started to come loose. The Paraframe has no wood grips to come loose... actually, the knife doesn't have much of anything as a grip, just a skeletal structure to grab onto. This makes the knife very light - I have actually forgotten that it was in my pocket on numerous occasions. The design is beautiful (in my opinion, some like more flash), but the finish of the Paraframe really sets it off, kind of a matte gunmetal coating that looks very tough. I'm not nice to my carry knives; they get dropped, banged around, used as a flat head screwdriver or pry bar when I'm lacking those tools, and to top it off, I sometimes try to cut things with them that a saw would be better suited for. All that said, the Gerber's finish has held up wonderfully; no visible scratches or wear marks to speak of.

As far as cutting goes, I would rate the blade 8/10. Sharp as a razor out of the box, and it's held an edge for quite some time, but it's a little to the delicate side of the spectrum. As mentioned before, I'm not kind to my carry knives, and a trip to the junkyard put this Paraframe to the test. I was attempting to grab a side marker light for my Trooper, and the vehicle sitting there apparently had a tree growing through the truck, as the wood had sort of molded around everything, covering it up... including the one screw I needed to get to! Having no saws or chisels handy (how often do you have to be a carpenter in a junkyard?), I whipped out the Gerber and improvised. I won't say it made quick work of the wood - it wasn't designed to be a chainsaw - but it got the job done, and I cleared enough wood out to access the screw holding the light in place. What disturbed me was that the wood was very soft, and yet there were some pretty bad nicks toward the tip of the blade. If I had been sawing away at metal or stone, I would expect that kind of damage, but soft wood? Hmmmm

While we're looking at the negative side of things, I'll mention now that it's not the most comfortable knife to hold in your hand. The skeletal structure of the grip frame is pretty, but it's still a skeletal structure, therefore it's thin, stiff, and not very ergonomic. All of the edges feel somewhat unfinished, not sharp, just not smoothed out. The worst offender is the pocket clip! The tip is rounded, but the edges aren't radiused in any way, shape, or form; I've brushed the clip from the wrong angle a few times and scratched my hand pretty good. I could live with most of the "unfinished" feel of the knife, but that pocket clip drives me nuts! I would recommend if anyone were to buy this knife, to sand down the tip of that clip so it's not so rough.

My last point is going to be neutral, because to some this is a plus, and to some it's annoying. Out of the box, the Paraframe has a very stiff rotation when opening and closing; you can't just flick it open like most knives. I personally like the ability to push on the thumb "knob" (or whatever you call it) and flick the blade out because it's a one-hand operation (sometimes my other hand won't be free); so for me the blade stiffness would be a negative. Some people prefer a stiff rotation that requires two hands, and would see this as a positive. In the few weeks I've been using the knife, the blade has loosened up enough to where I can thumb/flick like I previously mentioned, but it still requires more effort than I'm used to. My friend who recommended the Paraframe to me claims that after 40-50 continual open/close actions, it loosens up even more.

Overall, I'm happy with the little guy. It does it's job as a carry knife very well, it's nice and light, yet strong enough to get work done when the need arises. If you've got the funds for a high-end folding knife, by all means, walk right on by without giving a second look; but if you're like me, and are hard on your knives, or loose them a lot, then the Gerber Paraframe is definitely worth a try.