Mittwoch, 28. Februar 2018

So feicin´what

 I have tried to be a decent member of our society. Indeed, I have. I have tried hard, so hard, that I suffered from it. I did a lot of things for others that I denied myself. For lack of time. For lack of opportunity, or so I was made to believe. For friends and institutions, for a friendly exchange, for social communities, for clubs and to save what could be saved. I have long since realized that I would quite certainly not save this bedlam of a world; and I thought, well,care for your friends and family and create comunities that care for each other.  I believed in friendship, even love, or, at least mutual benefit.

Advice: Don´t. There is no such thing as friendship. There is only an exchange in the best case, a deal, but exploit in most cases. Noone will give you anything out of free will, and nothing is for free. This is the brutal fact about modern man. There is no such thing as morality, either. People will lie to you, if they see any profit in it, would even kill you without remorse if they were not punished for it. If they could go unpunished, they would so, with no second thought or remorse, if only the profit is high enough . Even children are not innocent and are just the same as the adults. This is an utterly monstrous world we have created, and it will become ever worse.

But most of my faithful readers know this already, and suffered from it, and this post is not about whining. I will not bore you with the details of how I crashed again while just meaning well, just as it always happens. I will spare you the whining about how I am mobbed again on all frontiers. The deal with this blog is that you read this blog and you enjoy it, maybe some, at least, and at least some. You do not enjoy reading about how the world´s a shitty place. I daresay you all know it well enough without me contributing to all the bad feelings. You would not browse the internet for something as weird as this, were it otherwise. This post is about "So feicing what".

So feicing what am I obliged to play this silly game?

Recently Moritz called me. Now Moritz once was a kid whom I tutored to do the bunny hop way back in 2001 and whom I showed the way from the neighbourhood to the local trails. He always seemed to stick around, no matter what happened. Now he has moved to the South of Germany. ´Course he invited me along to "shred the local trails". He does not do much more than riding and works in the bike industry now on top. As I was declining the offer, he got a bit mad at me, and he made a fair point. I have been riding progressively less in the last years. I spent a lot of energy trying to fight for ruined smithies and funny people, and of course it is rewarding to forge something with your own hands, and to build up  a group that even stood together for some time, caring for each other and blah and blah and blah.

But when the turnaround is getting mobbed by the very same people you put together, you question what you have done. All of it. And it sucks, of course. What Moritz told me in somewhat drastic words was: What would they do for YOU?

The answer is: Naught. Never. Now it´s not that you do it for to get something back. You do it because it feels right, and it felt right and still does. But if you not only don´t get anything back, but get hit in the face for everything you do while meaning well, the logical consequence is that you do less. Equals even more getting punched in the face.

But, hey.... SO FEICIN´WHAT?

For there´s a new bike in my attic-turned-home. I got it courtesy of (that much advertisement needs to be ;-) ), and the crazy folks on over just welcomed me and helped me a lot by building it the way they did. And when I strode into the shop, I got this feeling I missed while not knowing I missed it. Being part of the mountainbiking scene, and a vibrant part of it, for sure. I have been riding hard for some some 33 years now, and hard means hard. ;-) I rode down the Dalco trail at lake Garda at a time when a suspension fork meant 35mm of rubber pogo stick and fully sussed was not invented yet. Again I will not bore you with my dubious achievements of that time, how I filed my own cantilever brakes from aluminum that was way too soft so that they bent on the Kaprun downhill run of 1992 and how I bunnyhopped the bed in the appartment we had rented and how we devastated our rented rooms... we were younger then, and wilder, and the world belonged to us and our worries were petty. A lot has changed since these day. I am a bit proud that I might be even a faster and better rider in spite of my beer belly and aching joints. I am proud to have ridden with the best, and the best were not bored, in spite of my dubious cardiovascular fitness or riding finesse. It was about having fun, and we had fun.

And still my bike was standing somewhat neglected in my hallway, and I did not even bother to lube the chain or change the worn-out brake pads.

For the fuckers and morons were bashing me dead-or at least they tried. But there it was, standing in my hallway. My bike. You might know this phenomenon. There is something that is so much a part of your everyday life that you forget it is there. Sometimes you need someone to make you aware of it again. I certainly did, and Moritz applied for the job.       

Fact is, noone will ever accept me as a decent member of society at all. I got mobbed out of every institution, school, group or club I was in, even clubs I founded were not enthused to have me after a period of time. At the university, they tried, but I was one of the best and you cannot possibly bash someone who is having a teatime chat about academical issues with his mentors. I have tried to change the way I was, tried to be someone else, tried to be cooperative and beneficial even. Fact is, it does not work. What works, however, is getting in the saddle and get in some hard riding. Or some gliding along or toodling around. And the woods have never left me. 
 And this is what this post is about. It is about the woods. It is about wanting the light of a winter sun and cursing the raw ice on the trails. It´s about throwing raving insults at a puddle on the trail and laughing your head off on the way down. It´s about burning muscles and lungs and the feeling of flow and oneness on the trail. Call it as you like, but it is way bigger than the petty ways of mankind. That bike is just some eleven tubes welded together, a chain, some cogs, some rubber, pedals and a saddle. Nothing more, nothing less. And it´s not about the this and that of a label on your down tube.
 This is what it´s all about. This is why I can still say: So feicin´what! Drive me from the smithy as you wish, or leave it be. I am far more than just that. And I am far less than that. I have ridden mountainbikes for most of my life, I have carved wood for most of my life, collected herbs, tailored, worked with leather, tiled roofs, lay floor tiles, worked as a mason and a carpenter, as a scholar, in business promotion and city marketing as well as a gardener, a smith, a teacher. I have made knives, swords, tools, mead, food, have offered counsil and comfort to a lot of people. I have quite arguably saved at least some 100 lives in my life, in a most concrete manner. But the ten I could not save weigh far more heavily, and when I am out in the woods all this ranting and gibberish counts nothing.
 Still, I can get out there. And still, the hills convey meaning to me that ca not be easily put into words. 

And the bike, humble as it may be, is one way to get there. One means to escape for me. I cannot change this monstrous world of man. But I can change the way I think.

 I can ride down trails in the outback, feeling the icy wind in my face. I can scream into the wind and laugh my head off, and simply give a runny shit about what so - called friends jibber and jabber behind my back. Out there, it is about me, and the woods, and the wind. And thsi is what really counts. It´s about the soul, but more than that: It´s about your soul making friends with your body. Even if it is just a fading carcass, and my aching joints after a ride like this in the icy cold remind of this all too good, the soul can drive it to heights and abilities not easily accessed and not easily experienced. I am glad and grateful to have had the opportunity in my life to feel my body... and, by feeling it, getting to know my soul. The morons out there are moronss because they deny these feelings. They are zombies, undead creatures trying to prey on your soul, sucking on your life force while unable to even process it. I beg to differ.
 In these woods the path is shallow, but simple. Make silly mistakes, stack up big time. Go light on your brakes or go arse over teacup over the bars. Life is as simple as that. It is a brutal fact, and a brutal law you have to abide. Morality and love amongst fellow humans would make life easier, and were established to do so. But if these are not wanted anymore... I know the lay of fox and hare well, better than most. Being polite or even nice to others would make life easier for all-if all abide by this appointment. 
 Being out in the woods the way I have practiced now for a long time, as a spiritual practice, that is, changes what you are. And you are changed for good.Oh, no, I am not the best survivalist there is. I still like a warm room and a cozy armchair, agood book and a hot cuppa tea. But there is also something transgressing these feelings. It is hard to describe. And while the lay of fox and hare and the flight of the raptuous owl are part of it, so is the spring blossom and wintertime´s frost. I call it Skóggángr, but the word is meaningless compared to what it means. This is paradox, of course, and you can only understand it if you can´t understand it any more. 
 Seeing things like the ice crystals fills me with beauty and tranquility I miss in the world of man. Even careening down a steep singletrail fills my soul with tranquility. It is a feeling far removed from the "actual", from what is counting in the "actual world, and it derives not from a corporeal source, but from a soul.
 Riding across a river of ice might seem impossible or a silly idea even. But it´s not as silly as the stunted behaviour I lived last year. I lived it because I rejected one thought. It is a thought of severe consequences, and I did not dare to think it.
 It is the thought that occurs to me logically: In this world, I am the bad guy. I am the outcast who does not belong at all. i am the one thinking funny thoughts and being incapable of social behaviour. I am the one deviant, not the morons.


 They want me to be the same as I was. They want me to take responsibility for their silly actions. They want me to help them in their useless endeavours. They want me to live their futile life. They want me to join the throng and to be a good chap. But fact is, there are trails to be ridden and fun to be had. There is foraging to be done and dreams to be lived. There are songs to be sung and dances to dance and screams to be screamed on lonely mountaintops. There is craziness to be lived, animals to be befriended and eaten ;-). I now ride  a lot more and do a lot less forging, at least for others. There is nothing to be gained for me amongst people who just think in categories of gain and profit.They did not want my gentleness or politeness, nor my help. Now they must live with a wolf amongst their herd, or better, a wolf that does not try to befriend the sheep. For a wolf is a wolf, and sheep are sheep. I have realized this, finally.

 And the sinking sun greets me, and grants me light.

Lop the mistletoe,

 chop the golden bough...
 eat from the fruit of the forest.

So feicin´what? Off with me to another ride.

On the bench: Some progress on my new bushcraft knife

 Mustered some precious little time and worked on my new bush blade... just some refining the grind, some polishing and cleaning up the tang... and  a bit of filework. Blade is some mystery stainless steel with an exceptionally fine grain. I first thought it to be 440C or even Niolox, but the more I think about it the more I have to admit I can´t make heads nor tails out of it. I daresay it has a hardness of about 61, while being flexible enough to take a beating. It carves mild steel rods. Chopping antler dented the blade a bit, but then the edge angle was just 10°, so I modified it to a more robust 15°. The grind is a high convex bevel, now with the tiniest of a secondary edge.
 Sorry for the lousy pic of the gimping... The tang holes are hot - punched through to save me the costs of ten glass drill bits... ;-) Blade is 5mmx118.
I am currently thinking hard about what scales to fit. I had prepared some elk antler scales, but alas, they simply do not seem to fit the bill. There also is some birchwood burr and I am also contemplating some yew, bog oak, ebony or spindle wood scales... still thinking. I am taking my time with this one. It might as well be the last knife worth noting for a long time... for it´s that time again when I have to move on or think everything anew, so there might be no smithy in the future.

Mittwoch, 14. Februar 2018

On the bench these days...

It has been quite a while since I last posted some projects, for a good reason. With all the human scum tango going on again I simply could not find the creativity and energy anymore to get anything done. I seldom if ever even get to the forge, and if, I don´t seem to be able to do anything worth mentioning. It has been a while since I finished the forging on the bushcraft blade, and it lay unnoticed for quite some time.

So I am glad that only recently I mustered some resolve to get something done. Since my forge time is very limited, I resolved to get myself a weekend project blade, just for motivation and for testing. It is a Roselli, the UHC version of one of my favourite whittling knives, the carpenter. It is said to be Wootz and Roselli claims it coming in an extreme hardness of 66-67 HRC. Now I know how 67 HRC shall feel: At this hardness a blade scrapes glass. I know, because file steel blades do have this hardness after a non-tempering quench, before the temper in an oven. Now do not get me wrong: The carpenter UHC is a very, very fine knife. It is sharp, and has a decent hardness. But fact is, it quite certainly has not a hardness of 67HRC as is. I would estimate it to a 61-62 max. This is well hard enough for me. Most of my knives have a hardness of 58-60HRC and this works best for a backwoods knife. I would say Roselli tricks you a bit by naming the hardness before the tempering process. As I said, it is a very, very fine knife, but this policy sucks a bit. The truth would be well enough. I also got myself a complete knife for horsing around with, and with this knife, just when whittling the ditch on a spoon, the first 2 mm of the tip broke off (no levering). Now you get a complete knife for 120 €, and this is an absolute bargain price for a Wootz blade, and I daresay it really is Wootz, for it shows the characteristical dendritic pattern, together with a simple, but well-made and effective leather sheath. But why the hell does soemone who makes decent knives spend time and energy to make up something that just cannot be achieved technically? Anyway, I already fitted a handle of reindeer antler, which will see some zoomorphic ornament carving as well as some adornments.

The other work in progress is a bushcraft blade I forged myself (120x4mm, convex bevel to zero, handle is 115mm long ), out of a piece of some mystery stainless steel, presumeably 440C or Niolox, a steel comparable to 440C but with a high content of Niobium, making for a finer grain. I am a bit proud that I achieved a complete annealing with an open forge and a fridge, as well as a selective temper. Some first testing shows a good flexibility and a hardness of about 58-61HRC. The holes in the tang are hot - punched through. I daresay it will get either the birchwood burr scales on the picture or some elk, reindeer or sambar stag antler scales... I will keep you posted. ;-)    

Mittwoch, 7. Februar 2018

These murky woods - thoughts on the civic duty of escapism

 I like to think that I am a thinking man. I like to think that I have a reasonable amount of common sense. I have a day job like so many others, and like so many others I only find space for dreams and things that portray meaning to me in a world where human society subsedes. Of course I like to read fantasy novels, mythology and fairy tales and tales of mystery and imagination. For instance, I absolutely dug the laid Ursula K. le Guin´s Earth Sea cycle and have read all of it with gusto.

But I always did so with a sense of guilt and shame. It did not feel right to lose oneself in tales and dreams, when there where actual creatures of Evil roaming the Earth. Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, that Turkish fucker, that North Korean fucker and all the other fuckers who deserve more than death. Yes, that´s Fimbulmyrk ranting. Yes, that´s Fimbulmyrk hate-mongering. Yes, and Fimbulmyrk hates those fuckers even more so because those fuckers brought him that far. There are about one thousand methods of torture I would inflict on, say Donald Trump if it made any sense. But it does not make any sense. Because all hope for a better world is lost for good and there will be ever worse tyrants. It makes no sense to kill the tyrants or even hate them, because the next ones in line will be even madder and far worse. I would gladly kill myself, but what for? Even suicide would not make any sense any more.

Enter the grand old dame of fantasy. Ursula K. Le Guin, ( who died on January, the 22nd, said the following:

So many things are deemed escapist. My colleague at work says blacksmithing with children is escapist. Bushcraft is deemed escapist. Walking through nature is escapist. Spirituality is escapist, as is fantasy and literature and striving for an education that is not "push that button and shut up".

Notice summat?

People tell me that blogging is dead, and I was asking why. Because noone has time to read anymore and many people do not have the ability to follow articles that are longer than five lines, because they lack the span of attention required for more, they keep saying.

Many of the people in my acquaintance suffer from one or the other form of depression, most of them, to be exact. One of my friends who is in therapy right now, said she did not know the many things that are wrong with her before therapy, that she did not know exactly how deficient she actually was. So much for succesful therapy, by the way. Many of them cannot cope with the lack of any perspective in our world, with the ongoing warmongering, with the increasing pressure on the individual´s life, with the perverted turns of everyday life where nutrition is the new religion, and any other spirituality is absent and escapist and deficient.

Madmen are heads of corporation, and of city, and of state. Big-term business corporation own us all and do not even try to conceal the fact that they are the one who rule us. It´s not that they would kill you in case you don´t obey... you just do not belong any more if you do not play the game according to their rules. And the rules change like the weather and after unconceivable and absurd fashions.

That sheds an intersting light on the term "deficient perception of reality", innit?

And if you do not belong at all anymore, and feel left alone in the dark, then this post is for you. Because I want to tell you a secret.

They fear you.

They fear the archaic threat you pose.

They fear the twilight of murky woods. They can drive off darkness with the flick of a switch, everywhere, they can control nature to a frightening degree... but they cannot control the wilderness in your mind.  

They fear the other world. They fear God and the Gods and what is lurking beneath. And by belittling everything of real substance, crafts and art and fantasy, spirituality and belief, they hope to free themselves from the nagging doubts that grow like a cancer and grow and spread. They fear the werewolves and the spirits of the dark as well as the light. They are by definition, grey and Evil. They are the worsest of the worst.

The mist fell on ancient hills. After work, I set out for a bimble. So, you say, are you not afraid of wild pigs or wolves or racoons or foxes? No, I say. I am afraid of bankers and economists and politicians. No wolf could do that much harm to me. No wild pig would want to tear my soul apart and leave it throbbing with pain in a darkness that is no darkness but an abyss that defies definition. Then, you ask, are you not afraid, at least, if you are such a superstitious guy, of the spirits of the dark? Of what is lurking in the realm of twilight behind the threshold you so often mention?

But, in a world where light is only neon, and neon alone and thou shalt not relish in the warm flicker of the golden light of a candle, I have no shame anymore of unbecoming human, but something deeper and darker, with gnarled roots in the rock of the other world. I am a teller of secrets untold and unborn. I am the whisperer in the twilight. I am unbecoming human, and I am walking the masked path of twilight fury. I mean no bodily harm to anyone... but I know not shame anymore in telling the tales of the murky woods.

I have no shame in becoming the violent twilight. I have no mercy anymore. I have no guilt in killing with a word of power, a song of insanity, a sword I found in the other world, of killing the souls of the grey ones once and for good. For they fear, and I feed on their wrath and their fear to become even stronger. Yes, fear shall follow them, fear of the murky woods. Yes, peaceless by restlessness they shall become. Yes, they shall have no respite anymore, anywhere. I am a part of the darkness, I walk the masked path through the thicket of my fantasies... in stealth I tread to find a path into their dreams. There, at the threshold between wake and sleep, I will be lurking to ravage their soul. Care to join me?

And the most powerful weapon I have is being myself. A dreamer. A teller of tales, a whisperer of secrets, a part of the woods they so much fear. 

Try it. Sit by a stream in the murky woods. Listen to its song. And unbecome human. become the wildness of your mind instead, the clawed and horned animal that thrives in the deepest of the woods of your mind, the sorcerer, the maiden, the warrior, the mother, the child, and man and woman and beast alike. Scream the love of your live into the raging, ravaging storm - and become the storm, laughing as the absurdity of their ways is tattered by your breath.

Find the words that are the weapon of these songs, find the blade that is silence, find the tales it sings and tells. Do not harm their bodies - but strike back with the hardest force when they attack you. Escape from a reality that is not real, escape from a tyranny that is more than a tyranny of the body, but a prison for your soul. And fight. Always guard your dreams and never feel ashamed of your soul.

No, you are not perfect. Yes, you are dyfunctional. Yes, you are escapist.

Make it your sword, and always keep it shaving sharp. And protect your like and kind with every living breath and strive to take as many with you as you can.

Brief review of an István Nagyi Hungarian shepherd´s knife-the Laguiole alternative

 Also on the recent Jaagd und Hund expo I met with István Nagyi, who gave to me this beautifully accomplished Hungarian shepherd´s knife. Those who know me know that I am not overly fond of slipjoint mechanisms on a backwoods knife. This knife, however, is dating back to the 17th century and it is a time-proven design. It feels sturdy and is not very prone to snapping back in accidentally. Why, you ask? If you look closely at the dsign of the pivot you realize that the spring is part of the "guard" and the pivot is very off-center. This moves the pivot out of the center of the levering action of an accidental snap-in. Plus, the working hand gets to rest on the spring giving additional safety. Of course, it is still a slipjoint knife, aand you have to be more careful, but let´s look at the overall layout... it is no prybar in the first place. It is a knife for snacking and easy whittling and cutting tasks.
 The blade is handforged (!) from 440C and came, while not hair-poppingly sharp, with a satisfying sharpness. 1mm above the edge line the blade is just 0,4 mm thick. In the spine it is 2 mm with a high flat grind. Snacking is a cinch. You can cut thin slices of hard, dried sausage with no problems and make short terms with aged bacon and cheese, fruits and vegetables alike.
The handle, made from brass and beautiful red deer scales gives the hand very good support while lending a very dexterous feeling to the knife. The knife is a joy to look at, to use and carry. It came with a sturdy leather case with a strop.

No, it is not a hardcore tactical or bushcraft knife, but as a secondary carry for processing food and snacking, it is one of the best knives I own. The Yatagan blade is reminiscent of a Laguiole design, but the handle gives far more support to the had than a Laguiole, as good as this style of knife generally is.

You can get this style of knife from many makers in Hungary-go get yourself one and enjoy! ;-)

Bold copyism with an advantage

On the Jagd und Hund expo, which took place last weekend, I bought a bold copy of oe of my favourite bushcraft folders of all time, the EKA Swede 90. It is made by a corporation named "Ed Mahony" and produced in China. I got it way cheap, of course, and with a blade out of 440C it is not THAT bad, and the culprit is, EKA has stopped production of this knife. Might be it was too durable... mine now has some 15 years upon its edge. Anyway, the knife is beautiful with a handle which is made from Olive wood with next to no grain, unfortunately.

What you cannot see is that there are steel liners set into the wooden scales, somewhat recessed, other than the original, which has bronze liners. Both knives have a very sturdy lockback locking mechanism and a Scandi grind, which is modified by a secondary bevel on the Ed Mahony. The latter came "ouuta the box" hair-poppingly shharp.

An issue was that I had to adjust the screws on the Ed, which are made from stainless steel. A big bonus is that you can adjust them with but a coin. Adjustment was not that easy, because of bigger tolerances on the Ed which made for less of a smooth action and less room for errors. I will have to use Loctite blue on the screws to ensure a lasting performance.

 Both blades are some 90 mm long. The knives both feel sturdy and rock solid in the hand and allow for long and hard working. The 440C blade is a bit softer at an estimated 56-57HRC. The EKA has a defined 59HRC, which is very even along the length of the blade.

I really regret that EKA has cancelled production on this knife, but the copy is, while not exactly up to par, actually quite good and even will allow for some pimping... ummm... contemplating... ;-)

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