Mittwoch, 16. Dezember 2015

Over old hills and far away;-) - RIDE.

 Yesterday the weather was fine and the hills were calling violently. Now it has been some time since I just went on a ride into the foothills of the Sauerland, just so, just to ride, and it was about time.

Now with my new bike that carves like a razor I felt very much motivated and just put on my helmet and riding gear, made me a flask of tea and off I pedalled. I had to cover some distance to even reach the woods, for the trailhead is on the other side of the city, and the city at Chrismas sucks big style, but as soon as I hit the trail... aaahh. Silence.
 The creek that runs alongside the trail contributed to the peaceful atmosphere. It was very warm, what with the sun shining. The trails were grimy and slippery, and I realized my riding technique has deteriorated a lot since I last rode singletrails in winter. But it felt simply great to  be able to be outside and do some trails just for the fun of it. I will do quite some more riding, I guess, over the holidays. I usually put a lot of energy into very prosaic tasks and usually it ends in a catastrophe. Might be I should put some more effort into having some plain old fun...;-)
 It was not just that yo, jibbaman, yo-feeling. It´s not about wearing fancy attire and riding a great bike-business as usual you´d say, when I say it´s about the woods again. Of course it is, but there´s still more to it. It is different to when you go for a hike, it hardly can be intelligently described.
 Like this, see? How can I possibly explain to those who cannot refer to that feeling you have when you have ridden uphill on a technical trail and come to a clearing, wide open and all, and look over the distant valley and see those rolling hills, that roll, wave on wave, until one is the last that cuts the sky? The shadows were long...

And the sun shone with golden rays.

 On the hilltop I sat down...
 ...and had a sip of good strong tea.
Birds were singing in the grove. Felt more like spring than midwinter.

Then it was dropping the seat and give the beast a thrashing down the singletrail, slime-surfing, and I realized I was grinning wide and hooting and hollering the bike around the corners. It´s just if you have ridden a good bike before, and now you sit on an excellent one, and you realize you slam into an off-camber turn full tilt with a note of fear and all of a sudden you are already around it with no twitch or losing traction. Then you hit the next turn even faster and wonder where the limit of this beast actually might be? It was big fun again, and boy, I could not wipe that grin out of my face, even through the ride home through a city contaminated with madmen in  a Chrismas frenzy. On the ride home I got ten threats of getting my face rearranged just because I was on a bike and riding at the same speed as the cars in the traffic jam, one attack, and too many insults and foul language than I´d care to mention, but even so I was singing and grinning. The festival of love, you know...

I do this riding stuff  far too seldom, and I guess I have to change that.

In the thicket

 The sun was up and the weather was warm, and I was fleeing the city again for  a hike into the woods. I walk into the deepest woods, through thicket and underbrush to seek for solitude and a tiny shred of peace from the everyday mayhem of our world. And it never ceases to astound me how fast all the ruckus subsides as soon as you pass that threshold, subtle, yet distinguished, that last frontier of sense.

For in the forest it is that there indeed is violence, and injustice, and the strong prey on the weak... but all in a complex coherence of sense. Not in an arbitrary and mad manner, but to ultimately propel the wheel of life and creation. There is a room for violence as well as beauty, there is peace alongside the fox hunting the hare. I often think that there are dangers involved in treading the solitary paths I tread-but I think I´d prefer being eaten by some unknown predator or wild pig to living a life amidst all these hipster management types. At least they won´t make a fuss out of it and have a genuine reason;-). But I don´t want to focus on that, for the silence is deep and peace and solitude always do their job on me.
Through sun-enchanted woods I walked, and came across that fire road. Here in the shadow it was cold, and it was for once to be felt that it is actually December. Other than that it could be barely felt that we have winter. I was walking in a T-Shirt and a light jacket and even so built up a sweat!
But it became dark early, and I welcomed the twilight...
Along those green meadows to the wide open space beyond the forest...
...and where I suspected it the least...

...behind a thicket there was a tiny hunter´s path, nearly overgrown, and there it was: An obviously well-maintained and cared-for cabin, well stocked with firewood. I´d love to have one for myself...

...but fact is, I have none and won´t be able to afford one in the first place. So I put that thought into my mental drawer labelled "dreams" and went on my merry way;-).
The woods...
...have always been enough. And when twilight falls, I am right there, at home. When the wind moves through the soft treetops of spruce and fir, my cradle song I hear...

...and my heart is soothed, however searing my wound had been beforehand.

Donnerstag, 3. Dezember 2015

The Nightmare of the North - a skóggangr trail of twilight

 Strong is the call that is rising beyond the boundaries of the cities. From tree and grove and wood and hill there is this song that rises with the mist. Autumn had come, and stayed with colours and some warmer days; harvest has been and time did pass.

And from green hills there rise the mists. Few now know the song that rises from beneath the dark, rich soil. Few are wise enough to fear that time. And even fewer are those that still know how to tread that trail of twilight.

Into the murky woods I ventured, deep beyond the world of man, not space, nor time, that song I followed, a song like valiant steel and violent roar; and yet, but faintly is it heard.

The mists of time are blown away here and thence. No time fathomed by man is that song, nor space, not dream nor fancy, and yet it lives with thrumming vibration. Is it a fairy song, is it alvish lore? Is there death or is there life? The river runs two ways; three wells they foam with life and death, three mills they grind, grind endlessly.

Into the twilight, as I did so often before, but now I walked with new and deadly earnest. I walked deep into the darkness and the murk - to unbecome human.

The sun, that bright lantern of everyday business, sank beneath the veil of woods, of hill, of earth.

...and mists rose up to give the light a gentle goodbye in a flaming cold embrace.

From hill and dale and crevice deep they rose, rose like mist with lips as pale as frostbite flowers, rose with grace alien to man. No word was spoken, no song was heard.

And from afar I heard the faint murmur of a despairing world.

I did not look behind, I did not try to find a clue nor thought. I left the rags of my mortality behind, beneath the shroud of dancing mists. I walked on and further up the pathway and through a gate unfathomable even by a poet´s mind.

Horror unseen and terror unfathomed, joy and riches, wealth without measure strewn at their feet, unnoticed, undesired. The mists were cold, and the song grew louder, louder, more intense.

The fading light blurred all things living in favour of those who had never lived and live in spite.

Up rose the crescent of the moon above the blood-red light.

Above the twilight trail it shone serenely; and beyond the world the gates - they tremble:

On a haggard horse of silken midnight the nightmare rides on flaming hooves; high the song arises, louder still above the fields of battle, above the clamour, the outcries of pain and hate.

On a raven horse of midnight the nightmare rides from grove and creek, from hill and dale and silent rock; on a steed of darkness she rides. Blood she drinks from poets´skulls; ragged cloak of darkness´fabric, of twilight, iron, leaf and tree.

Out she rides from the three wells; their yarn has been combed, and cleaned, and spun. The sickle, silver light and crescent sharpness, rises up to cut. From spool and wheel and teasel their thread unrolls and spins... she moves the wheel of thirteen spokes to cut the thread, untie the knots, knots that bind, bind flesh to soul.

On a haggard horse of midnight she rides out on winter storms, on mist and trail. The eagle owl, the wolf, the raven feel the scent of death she leaves lying beside the flaming hooves.

From forest deep and canyon, from creek and hill and dale - up rise the violent mists. The gate it clashes and opens wide; out rides the nightmare from the three wells.

On  a haggard horse of burning midnight out rides the nightmare, the protector of the woods.

On a raven horse of midnight, the river flows two ways; three wells with fury overflow. The curse it rises to the leaden sky, the curse in tri- fold incantation is woven into her cloak, her sickle and her spear, in sword and poisoned arrow, the curse it weaves into the water, into the soil, the sky, the wind; the curse it rises on a midnight horse.

On a haggard horse of midnight out rides the nightmare, the protector of the woods.

Serenely the moon shone above the trail of twilight.

Stunned and smiling silently in stealth I left the mist - enchanted woods and the dreamlike fancy, knowing.

And unbecoming human.

Mittwoch, 2. Dezember 2015

Two projects on the bench-and some musings on the fiercer aspects of the German psyche

Germany is entering into the so-called "War On Terror". This means we´re fucked. I recently read the musings of one strategy specialist on a dpa press site about a ground offensive. He went into detail with strategems here and strategems there and spilled out tactical information that, had they been genuine would NEVER have found their way into the internet. But what was made abundantly clear is that the leaders of the German army don´t have an inkling what to do against terrorism. If we engage into a ground offensive in a conventional way we will lose many lives and we will never be able to end this war. Children will be born, grow up, grow old and die in this war, and we will be defeated in the end. We have several options left, however. The first one is assuming Muslim belief and modifying it over time as Christianity has done with pagan festivals. The second one is to nuke every Muslim country ten metres below ground zero, as Russian nationalists so aptly suggested. But the we have to be so thorough that we will eventually wipe out ourselves, too. The other is "good" old genocide. By the way, this is not my personal opinion, but one possible option. Along the sickening lines of this stratagem we had to extinguish any Muslim in the world as we Germans tried in the Third Reich, not an option to me at all, but possibly the only path that will be left, maybe in combination with the former option. We talk about the extinguishing of some millions of people. Since this, as I said, can´t be an option, but actually IS an option to the enemy, we have already lost.

But maybe not.

Often people from outside think Germans are quite easy to understand. After losing the war, we have become accepted members of the Western community. The goods we sell are still famed for their quality, the things we engineer and develop often have a stand-alone quality of innovation. We are famed for our social welfare (even though we are working on that to finally, finally, become the 51st state of America or at least America´s cherished lickspittle. Please do not take offence in that, you know well I know the differences, but I work together with entrepreneurs who really covet the Rockefeller style of capitalism, and this is what I criticize). Then there are Lederhosen and Gemütlichkeit and whatnot.

But there is an aspect of our culture that is fiercer than the lickspittle, and in a sick and perverted manner it shows in the deeds of Nazi terrorists like the DVU and PEGIDA. Sensible Germans are seldom patriotic in public. But I have the strong suspicion that there is a bit more of a spine in people than is shown everydays.

Let me put it this way. I live in the Sauerland region of Germany, in North - Rhine - Westfalia. The name Sauerland goes back to an Old German "Siuerland/Thiudaland". The word "Deutschland" goes back to "Diutisk land", from Old German "Theudo", people. So it can be argued that this region can for now stand pars pro toto for the whole. Now think about the missionary war that Charlemagne led with the Old Saxons, the "people", whose name was given because of the weapon they made famous, the "sahsa", (seax). The Saxons were defeated, their holy tree chopped down, and on blocks made from the tree´s wood they were beheaded after having been granted forgiveness if they gave up their weapons and swore the oath "tunaer ende seaxneath luginari" (Thunderer and Seax-wielder/fighter (are) liars). But it is said at least in local legend, that their leader, Widu-chind (Forest-Child) escaped and went into hiding applying a hit-and-run tactic, a guerrilla warfare. They could not be routed by the Frankish regular host, and hired assassins did not come back from the murky, misty woods.

Legend or no, there are still genuinely pagan customs in our region, from the maypole and oak to the existence of "Spökenkieker" (*spákonskaikari, those who meet the seeress, or, in a more modern connotation, seers in their own right) up to today. Charlemagne was very thorough in his genocidal mission, but simply did not manage to succeed to rout Saxon belief at all. Of course, the people were Christians up until 2000 or so, when Mammonism became the secret religion of state. But still there are seaxes made all over the world. Saxons contributed to British culture, and British culture influenced the founding of America, at least partly.

What I want to say is, you can aggravate a German a very long time until he gets angry. It takes a lot to make us furious, for we like to have our Gemütlichkeit. We are a bit like the hobbits in LOTR. We like good food, and a beer and an "Ollen Kloaren" (vintage barley schnapps). We don´t say much.

I am not proud of the history of the Third Reich, not at all. But German soldiers as individuals were feared and respected in WWI and WWII. The Werwolf units struck terror into the allies a long time after the war had ended ("Every friendly German civilian is a disguised soldier of hate. Armed with the inner conviction that the Germans are still superior ... [they believe] that one day it will be their destiny to destroy you. Their hatred and their anger ... are deeply buried in their blood. A smile is their weapon by which to disarm you ... In heart, body and spirit every German is Hitler."(Armed Forces Radio), and while ideologically this is not at all acceptable, this could and should be a way out. Yap, this war would bring us as low as that, but in order to survive we should do everything we could.

It´s funny, but the Muslim inhabitants of our country seem to stay away from the woods. At least I seldom meet any in the forest, and, having talked to some of them, young and old, it seems that they fear the woods or at least they are not that comfortable around them. The woods are still vast and sometimes prosperous, and we are the ones who know them.

It was in 2004 when on a trip to Solingen, the famed bladesmithing city in our vicinity, I went to see Mr. Broch, an experienced and somewhat mythical bladesmith in Solingen;-) and a nice guy to boot. he showed me a lot of tricks of the trade, and I owe him a lot. Not the least I owe him is that he showed me round his "garage", a right treasure trove of historical knives, and amongst them I found these untempered blades, a trench knife (right) and an infantry knife 42. It was Matthias Zwissler who taught me how to quench them and how to estimate the carbon content by spark analysis, and we tempered them in his smithy. And in the lake where I lived besides then I found the gunstock of an old 98K carbine that the soldiers that were fighting on the FLAK stand near the dam disposed of when the capitulation was at hand in 1949 by throwing it into the lake. I will make knives out of these blades, with a feeling of regret, but determined to preserve my roots.

But it will be not purely out of hate that I do this, but out of a furious love and respect, for the life of that old bladesmith, for Matthias, for the love of my old home and the woods and the world I grew up in. The love of my country, not a vague concept portrayed by lying politicians still not admitting we are at war. And not out of any propaganda reasons, but the sun gilding my beloved grove.

I fear for the future, but I love with a fierce passion the hills and trails and misty, murky thickets of my home. I fear for my loved ones and, for my own life, and my heart. I don´t want to kill. I don´t want to be the ugly German, and I will cling to talking as long as possible. Talking to people with different beliefs and showing them we don´t want to pose a threat for their religion, but "Gemütlichkeit" for all of us, Christian, Pagan, Muslim. Talking of how we can build a world together, for the world is still round, and still a ball of dirt swirling madly through the void on a rollercoaster ride to hell, for it will no less explode in some years by hitting the sun. What good is trying to extinguish each other before that? I will fight for pluralism by talking. And asking. And respect. 

But when the talking´s over I am ready.

I can fly again;-)

 So, well, the world is ending, word. And still I got a new bike. And still I got a huge grin on my face. Not really a sensible one. Not bike nor grin. But still.

I have long contemplated getting a bug-out or overland bike built up, but fact is, I only just so could afford a new frame and fork and the parts that always look as if they fitted on and actually do not. ;-) And a bug-out bike is not that much fun, at least one as I think of. No suspension fork, and a relatively tame geometry, racks and panniers and all that stuff.

I got still a frame or two in the cellar that could fit that bill if required, but then, yap, "dress for the crash, not the ride", it would limit my riding. Chance is, this is the last bike I can afford anyway, so I wanted to say goodbye properly to a sport that has given me so much (Taken a lot, too. But still.). No thanks, by the way, to Orange cycles. For want of a derailleur hanger, the frame was lost, no indeed. I had to dispose of my former bike because there is no hanger available for a 2013 model, bummer.

Talking of which, there´s a funny story revolving about my buying this frame, a Dartmoor Primal. I called Dennis from Metal Motion Bikes if he had something bargain in the shop or to be ordered, and he recommended Dartmoor bikes, a Hornet frame, to be exact. I rummaged through the specs, and as Seppel and Frank, friends from my former club had a lot of good things to tell about that bike, I thought, well, get that, and began to look forward to it.


Turned out the advertised frame was no longer available. the 2015 models were sold out in June. So, well I thought, can´t get the old frame, so take the new one.


Turned out there were no 26" frames without a rear through axle, just 27,5" or 29". Now a rear through axle is an axle that is clamped into the frame, and having a good 10mm thicker diameter is stiff to boot, but simply put-I could not afford to buy new wheels.

Enter the Primal frame. Wow, I thought, what a good-looking thingy, simple and stiff, without a through - axle, normal measurements and a configuration for 26, 26+ (26" with 3" tyres) and 27,5" diameter wheels and suiting my suspension fork of choice. So, I called Dennis to go and order one for me.


Turned out they were no longer available.


Turned out the 2015 models were sold out in June, too. Got a bit angry, so I called the distributor and with my best clerk´s voice I demanded one to be put into reserve. Turned out there still was one being found in the storage, my size and all. So I called Dennis and told him to call the distributor to order the one I had put into reserve for an hour. Then I called him to ask for the price. Turned out no one knew. The frame arrived, I went to fetch it and took some money with me, eager to pay and get the whole deal done with.


Turned out there was no bill and no prize list for it. Dennis and Ralf, his father were simply great, they just took out the calculator and made me a prize I was more than content with and threw in a headset, and a wire set at a bargain, and I want to make abundantly clear that they did one of the best jobs I have ever seen anyone do, and that includes me working as a bike mechanic, period. But I think the industry´s a bit over the top. Okay, it is not my religion to ride smaller wheels, but, hey, that is what I have, and they have definite advantages, being lighter, stronger and more lively. In surfing and kayaking there are long and short boards and boats, why can´t they just build versatile bikes for real people (like me?). That this is possible, is testified by this very frame, which can do most of it all. I strapped the shiny-blingy thingy to my backpack and rode home from Witten still with a singlespeed, but with laughter in my heart and joy.

Since my beloved neighbours would not have it that I build up bikes in my own cellar, and I did not want to quarrel with them, especially in the times that are to come, I took up my tools and parts and bike into my attic-turned-ahem-was-that-home ;-), took out a beer from the fridge, put on a Guano Apes CD and started to build it up.

I want to thank Seppel, who sold me a nearly new Rock Shox Domain suspension fork with 160 mm of travel and a through axle with a front wheel for a price that was outright ridiculous, and Michael, who did even more than that and unmounted the rear derailleur and cogset from his own bike and gave it to me for a bottle of mead. Bro, I know, what this means to you, and I hope you know I value it and take responsibility for this gift. Also Jandark, who gave me an old front derailleur, for my old one did not fit anymore, contributed a lot for this bike. Thanks, folks, I don´t want to get sentimental, but I guess you know what I mean when I call you friends.

Two bottles of beer later the beast took shape, I adjusted the gears as good as it would go (turned out it has an asymmetrical rear triangle, so I have to rebuild the rear wheel completely, but was too lazy and too eager to do it).

New brake discs, new shifter cables, a relatively fresh saddle, and I was off for the first ride around the block.

And nearly fell arse over tit as I hit the first berm. It was not that anything came apart, or anything was wrong. That bike is extremely stiff and light and can be flicked around by mere thought-control. It is a bit frightening if you oversteer the first bend because the fork is THAT stiff. Also, I was so amazed at the traction the beast has that I was getting timid. Uphill it can be ridden four gears harder, and my first bunny - hop, a jump over obstacles, was like going on an orbit mission. It is shorter, stiffer and meaner than the Orange, and with the 26" wheels it can be flicked around with a mere weight shift. It needs some dialling in on my part, for it requires a far more aggressive riding style than I was used to with the old bike, but I was laughing like a madman on that first outing.

 Another lousy picture, apologies, my camera will be dead soon... but what I want to say is three things. First, many modern bikes come with bars as wide as 1000mm. Of course, this gives you ample leverage, but try riding this on a REAL singletrail and you´d instantly know why I prefer smaller bars. Plus, if you stand absolutely relaxed with your arms dangling freely by your side, this is the most relaxed position your arms and shoulders can be in. To me, it appears logical, that the horizontal distance between your hands also is the most convenient length your handlebar grips should be apart. And third, many beginners make a mistake by setting up the stem on a long-travel hardtail too high. If your fork blows through the travel, of course you want a higher cockpit, but then your fork is set up wrong. You should always draw a triangle by taking a length of washing line and the help of a partner, fixing it to your navel and the contact points of the wheels to the ground. That triangle should have approximately equal lengths in all the sides. For a downhill bike the triangle can tend a bit farther to the rear, and with a crosscountry bike a bit farther to the front, but avoid the extremes. The Primal with the low cockpit setup precisely falls into a triangle with equal sides. It felt as if it all clicked into place! I have to move very little up or down to achieve the perfect distribution of weight and balance. The bike as is has a huge potential that I have to learn how to put up to, and this is something I last experienced when I got my Zaskar way back then. It can be fostering a whole new riding style!

...did I mention I am a bit excited about this?;-D
 The chain- and seat stays (the tubes at the chain and those that go into the seat tube, the tube with the saddle in it) offer PLENTY of tyre clearance and I daresay there´d be at least some 2,8" tyres in the near future...
 Once again, THANK YOU, Michael. I hope to put up to it.
 Yesterday it was extremely shitty weather, as you might notice from the pictures, and blimey, it was murky. I just craved to get outside! Was wet through in no time, and you could not tell the North or South end of a northbound elk from all the mist, but I hade a somewhat crazed grin on my mouth the whole time.
 Fire roads, singletrail, oh yeah, I was feeling extremely slow, and chance is, I was, but still....
It feels as if I am back on my trail. Now many might think of it as being superfluous and perfunctory, but I often think very grave thoughts, so I need a bit of escapism from time to time. But is it really? I often think that the feelings that my bike has offered me ingress to over the last 29 years have given me an insight, not to say enlightenment. It´s the flow phenomenon that shares many characteristics to Eucharist, Satori and Sírr... just thinking aloud, do I?

Flow has made me a different man. It´s in the wind, not in the tyres or the frame. It´s in the woods.

And if you have been there, you know what I mean when I say that there is respite in the temple of the wind, and eternity in the crystal of a moment. If you haven´t, all words are futile.

I can fly again, and I do.

Donnerstag, 26. November 2015

On the bench: Grosses Messer / Bauernwehr machete

Some novel inspiration came upon me with the venue of a 150 kg Beché power hammer (I have heard that tends to happen;-)), so I forged out the preform of a Grosses Messer, but without a crosspiece or Wehrnagel, but an integral bolster. Knives like this were actually historical and in use from the high medieval age up to the 19th century. In contrast to the Grosse Messer, a typically German, English and Scandinavian type of weapon, this was more of a common man´s farming tool. I made it from coil spring steel with a bit more carbon in it (roundabout 0,6%- 0,7%. There´s still a lot of work to be done.

Actually, to be honest, it started out as a Grosses Messer, but I made a mistake with the integral bolster-so no crosspiece. But as I tried the layout I found it extremely dexterous that way and I want to push it to learn a bit about the balance of swords. As is, I forged a taper in that will get more pronounced in the forging process. I want a knife that is an able chopper but could be used as a whittler;-). So, we´ll see how it goes.... I´ll keep you informed of course.

Mittwoch, 25. November 2015

New Gallo-Roman strikers for Tina

Tina, a friend of the magic troll´s and a mutual acquaintance wanted a striker, so here they come... Two firesteels inspired by Roman finds. File steel, of course... and selectively tempered (no annealing) in water. Wait, was that water? ;-) Yap, it was. Don´t do this with a thin knife blade, of course, but with a thickness of about 6 mm you can do this  to achieve a sharper quenching. You don´t want to drop a striker (any striker) onto a concrete floor, so you need to be careful a bit with them, but then it is not a prybar in the first.

Hippocras that should keep me drunk for a while ;-)

So, the world´s gone insane-and alcohol is not a solution, but killing off brain cells helps a bit to decrease the gap of stupidity*ggg*, just kidding, of course.

I have a new run of Hippocras/Theriak ready, brewed from:

-wild strawberries
-wild strawberry leaves
-blueberry leaves
-bramble berries and leaves
-nettle seeds
-lesser galangal
-angelica root
-common yarrow
-St. John´s wort

It is made after a 17th century Theriak recipe with inspiration by Konrad of Megenberg and Hildegard of Bingen. It has a very invigorating effect;-) and can be used as a medicinal against cough, flu, bad stomach, female complaints, as a digestive, stomach cramps, digestive problems and a mild antidepressive (provided you use it sensibly). Of course: Please remember to judge for yourself when to visit a doctor and when not to! I will not be made responsible for any adverse effects...

Always be cautious when using herbal concoctions, of course and blah, and blah, and blah...;-).

As a medicinal concoction, drink three mugs a day. You can also drink it warm, prepared just about the same as mulled wine.  

Progress on my En - Nep

 So, this is the En - Nep I started some time ago. Made from ancient (150years+) leaf spring I found in the woods, 10,4 cm long, 4mm thick.
 The layout is drawn along a whiplash line making it very whippy indeed in chopping and, together with the recurve edge line, makes for a very slicey blade in spite of the thickness.
 The balance point is on the index finger. It feels very light and dexterous and point-centered.
 Theoretically you could whirl it around your index finger. I tried;-).
The blade tapers towards the tip. Scales, by the way, are elk antler, fitted with mosaic pins. The bevel is a high convex one, and the temper is---selective of course.

A very interesting take on a field knife - Walther FBK

 I got a new knife for reviewing that is really stunning. Yeah, you all know I don´t like ´em tacticals any, but there is no mistaking there are a lot of dead functional designs out there. Let me introduce you now to the Walther FBK (Fixed Blade Knife). Not a creative name at all, but one can´t argue about it fitting;-).
 The knife comes in a very cool gift box. It´s made from sheet metal with foam fittings to hold the knife and sheath and goodies in. One can take out the furniture;-) and use it for a survival kit and first aids. Out of the box the knife came hair poppingly sharp. The blade is made from 12C27 with a somewhat Tanto-esque tip but with not so much of a pronounced "American Tanto" configuration, which is a good thing to aid in all-round capability. It is ground hollow towards the handle and has a flat grind in the tip. The handle looks like Kraton, and indeed it is a thin layer of Kraton rubber on G 10  scales. The blade is some 4,2 mm thick and the tang has serrations at the back and the rear end. It also has a clean lanyard "pin" built in that does a good job of keeping a potential lanyard from flopping all over the place.
 I  don´t know exactly, but the blade looks and feels like it has a selective temper. As is, it can stand up to a whole lot of abuse.
 The handle seems to be hollowed out. I could not remove one screw, so there´s no evidence yet. The screws can theoretically be removed with a coin. Interesting are the index grooves towards the rear end, which at first seem like a design fad; but moving it from the hammer to the reverse grip position shows that the knife is extremely dexterous in those movements. Okay, so best advice is not to move your knife around in a stress situation, but as is, the movement can be done with a lot of safety.
 The sturdy cordura sheath allows for a lot of carrying options. You can adjust the belt loop with press buttons, and there are MOLLE loops at the back that would even allow for horizontal carrying or mounting to an assault rig or daypack. The extra pouch easily carries a Vic locksmith and Swedish army firestick or a Vic multitool. The sheath looks a bit cheap, and could do with a bit less clumsiness, but we´re talking a knife with a selectively tempered (very probably) 12C27 blade and ingenious handle and grind that sells for 69€.
Overall I can say, of course I do not like the tactical design, but rationally I can´t say anything against it. The blade and handle are outright ingenious, and the sheath is something one can easily live with. The knife and sheath could be decontaminated, and overall it offers a whole lot of bargain for the money. I can´t say how much abuse it can take actually, but will maybe be able to provide you with a full - on test later. It certainly looks the part.

As is almost customary, apologies for the lousy pics, I have to get a new camera soon!

Donnerstag, 19. November 2015

It´s here


So, we all have talked about it in the bushcraft and survival community. We have marvelled about the ins and outs of catastrophe with a sick and morbid fascination. I had not exactly a part in it, because I always knew it would be shit.

It´s here. The end of the world as we know it. The end of freedom, the end of communication.

Terrorism is bad enough in itself, but the reactions of our respective governments will be but a tiny bit less bad. We will be faced with severe restrictions, we will be faced with death every day. One could either get depression or laugh one´s head off for the stupidity of mankind.

I refuse to give up. War is here, but I will survive as long as I can.

For my  readers: Here are some links for some sensible preparations (English versions available via the mainpage)

I want to add up to this with my very own random thoughts on preparing for SHTF, with no claim of perfection whatsoever. Just ideas to inspire your own way of dealing with it:

If disaster strikes home, get out of urban areas. Prepare bug-out sites, but, most importantly, build your own countryside networks. No farmer will be enthused if you get out to him when disaster has struck. In fact, many inhabitants of the countryside will kill you or at least treat you with hostile force.

If you get to know them first and offer your help, skill and firepower in an emergency and work together with them, they will take you. Remember nothing´s free. I am a blacksmith with a smithy that can operate without electricity, and have a load of tools that could be of a valuable service. I have several skills to offer and so I was able to generate several networks where they would take me and some other individuals.

If at all possible, build up neighbourhood assistance networks. Talk it through and dispatch responsibilities in case of an emergency.

Any Southerner of Arabian, Albanian, Syrian, Afghan, Pakistani, Turkish, Kurdish, Jordanian and similar provenience (any Islamic country), is a potential deadly enemy and should be treated as a potential lethal threat. Treat them with a respectful cautiousness. But don´t go arse over tit by getting lost in hate fantasies. Learn as much as you can about Muslim culture. Use your brain and common sense.

Don´t visit festivals, concerts, sports events or political demonstrations. If you get into a political demonstration by accident, address a police officer and ask him to show you a way around it.

Don´t visit urban areas after 10 pm. The woods are far safer. If possible, walk detours.

Don´t visit pubs or restaurants known for big events and a lot of customer traffic, if you can´t find it in you to leave it be altogether.

Don´t use trains or buses. Walk or ride a bicycle, if you have no car.

As long as it possible, visit a doctor to get yourself in the best possible state of body health before everything goes foul. Get your teeth done, for instance, before doctors can´t help you anymore and you need to visit the blacksmith. Less teeth mean less energy, because it can become hard to process the food available.

Become the gray man.

Train in a martial art, but also go for a run or ride at least three days a week. Train your endurance, but also your sprinting prowess. Every family member should do so.

Train walking barefoot. In case you lose your shoes, this will make you easy prey for any pursuer if you have not trained your feet.

Gather up provisions, resources and victualies. Gather non-electric tools. Learn how to use them. Learn homesteading techniques and start a garden, if possible. Even in a flat you can grow some herbs and vegetables. Keep your house apothecary well stocked. Include a tactical first aid kit and bandaging material also for bullet, arrow and cold steel weapon injuries. Prepare comfrey balm and keep medicinal alcohol ready for disinfection. And, most importantly, and even more important than just piling up stuff, revisit your first-aid skills. Get a refreshment course if necessary.

Minimize your trash. Get a heavy lid for your toilet with a heavy weight standing besides to keep rats out. Seal any holes in your walls  to keep critters at bay. Get killing rat and mousetraps and pesticides. Chance is, you will have to fight pest and critter animals more than actual terrorists when waste disposal comes to an end.

Get weapons legal to access. This means crossbows, slingshots, slings, bows, machetes, swords and muzzle-loaders in Germany (the latter require a "small" weapon license and a permit to handle explosives). Best use weapons with a tool character. For instance, a hoe´s handle will make a formidable and deadly pole weapon, as does a machete and an axe. Rid yourself of scruples and try to develop a killing attitude. This is crucial, because you can heap up as many weapons as you like if you are not capable of doing it. A skilled and determined fighter can use anything as a weapon, from PET bottles (even empty ones) to apples to kill, but if you lack the attitude, even automatic weapons will not do you any good. It is all in your head. Just remember a terrorist WILL kill you if you can´t get away, and if you can´t, you have to be faster. To be faster than a trained fighter (and they are) requires constant training.
Best run away, of course. But IF you are faced with a situation that requires killing, you have to keep in mind that it is you or them. I am not saying, however, that you should get yourself into trouble, and I cannot emphasize this enough. Just remember that IF the situation arises, there is no time for thinking.

Build your home with retreat in mind. Fortify the rooms up to a last respite, where you stock most of your weapons. Keep food and drink provisions in every room that can be defended, and a camping toilet in the last respite. Get a reinforced main door. If there are local restrictions on the layout of front doors, build it in behind the front door. Ideally, reinforce the whole entrance area with steel beams and concrete so that it can´t be levered out, even with hydraulic devices. Reinforce the respite room with a steel door and reinforce the entire wall with steel and concrete. Build steel-reinforced hardwood shutters for any windows and screw them in with tempered square-headed mushroom bolt screws if the need arises. Keep lighting at hand and enough batteries plus a dynamo-powered handlamp. Keep your communication devices and a shortwave receiver in your respite room.

If you are faced with an attack, NEVER play the hero. Get out of the way if at all possible. But also remember that any radical Muslim, Christian, Nazi or other terrorist will not trade you in for money and cannot be convinced to spare you. They WILL kill you. Get out of the way or kill them. When automatic weapons are involved, seek shelter behind something massive (concrete, bricks, stone, sandbags). A car door will not do. Keep silent, and keep a low profile. You can train on a softair site, but remember: Best stay way clear of any place where it could happen. Automatic weapons are extremely lethal, as are explosions. Best get out of areas with a high risk expectation.
All of these are just suggestions, of course, and you have to use your own brain for prepping. I will, for instance not waste my time with fortifying my flat, because I live very close to a potential target of terrorism, but put my energy into bugging out.

Get familiar with camouflage techniques in the environment you will be faced with. The "Reibert" handbook for soldiers in the German army gives some first insights on that. You can find essays about camouflage all over the place. In my opinion

-you have to know the environment
-you have to adapt to and blend into it as much as possible
-obscure your silhouette (with twigs, leaves, branches)
-offer digital overinformation (the principle of digital camouflage, i.e. offering too much information with an obscure background for human perception)
-avoid any contrasts (use paint  etc.)
-develop a mindset "don´t mimic a bush, be a bush"
-make or buy a Ghillie suit
-transfer the "Gray Man" concept onto your area of camouflage, meaning, if you are in a forest environment, observe it closely and blend into it. Make it a habit of moving in stealth - at all times.

These are also principles I will refer to in another post on Skóggángr. I hope to take up training soon, but I first have to get a training facility. Might be it can be at the ironforge.

ottastafur(picture source:
All in all I regret that it has come thus far. It could still be reversed, if only common sense would prevail. But we all know it will not.

I want to say that I still respect Muslims and Christians and I am meaning no offence, but the monotheistic religions are prone to a terroristic mindset. This war has been started in the early medieval ages when Bernhard de Clairvaux (and other Christian fanatics) instituted the "Holy War" with the crusades. Then Hasan bin-Sabah established the order of the Assassins, and modern IS fighters still work along the same lines. Both were a shitty excuse for a priest and should rather not have been alive. But they were.

The deity had no part in this as far as their legitimation went. It was entirely an all-too-human affair. And it is not the whip of God or Allah we are faced with, but the effects of our own ignorance, blindness and plain stupidity. And our failure to accept that we are living on a ball of rock moving through light years of void, so we´d better get along with each other. That is not to say there is no deity, and to assume so would be plain illogical, but we simply should stop our sandbox games to wake up to the real world.

Personally I am sick of hierarchic religion with people in charge who do not deserve so. They are playing at collateral damage in a sandbox made out of the world. They could not wait for hell after life, so they keep making a hell on earth. I am tired, and If I have to die, I believe will give up this life not eagerly, but calmly. But I refuse to give them the right to dominate my thoughts and feelings.

Take care and stay alive! Keep loving your loved ones and do not forget that life is not always running, hiding and fighting, but that there are still sunbeams floating through the flittering leaves. This will fuck them best. And surviving this war means more than just staying alive, but overcoming the trauma we will inevitably be faced with. For it is this trauma and the resulting fear, hate and anxiety Evil feeds on.

(Picture source:

Icelandic Magical Staves


Hulinhjalmur (“Helm Of Disguise”) is a sigil that allows the user to become invisible.

The complex task of creating the ink to make this sigil is done by collecting three drops of blood from the index finger of one’s left hand, three from the ring-finger of one’s right hand, two from the right nipple and one from the left nipple. Then the blood must be mixed with six drops of blood from the heart of a living raven and melted with raven’s brains and pieces of human stomach.

Once that is done the sigil must be drawn out in this ink on brown coal (lignite) and then pressed into the brow, activating this visual magic to prevent your enemies from being able to see you.

- hedendom


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