Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Review: Tiletto - The Titanium Letter Opener

I'm a firm believer in not only getting behind small business makers, but also adding more shinies to my collection. This was no exception.

This is the Tiletto and is the creation of Steve Sure, who along with his trusty collaborators in the form of Mike Bond (of Ti2 Sentinel and Parabiner fame), Brad (of TiPik, WTF and TKMB pen  Tactical Keychains) and Philip Kaufman (of the ScrewGrabber project) designed a piece I knew right away that, with those peers,  would be a great project to get behind.

Pay no mind to the CQB dagger beside it. It's a complete coincidence that their forms are remotely similar.

Milled from sheets of Ti-6Al-4V, otherwise known as "Grade 5"titanium, these pieces are approximately 178 mm (7") long, 25mm (1") at its widest, and 1.6mm (1/16") thick.

The Tiletto features chamfered sides that can act as straight edges for assisting in lines drawing or scoring, to cleanly tear pieces of paper, and to open letters, packages and parcels. I've not encountered a taped box the Tiletto can't safely get into in our regular deliveries.

Either end of the Tiletto,  has different shapes / characteristics to use as a flad-head driver, or an improvised phillips head, and can also be used as a pry bar to take on small jobs such as car and can opening.

Further adding to its functionality, the Tiletto features a set of wrench openings in its belly, with the inch-calibrated version offering: 9/16", 1/2", 7/16", 5/16", and a 1/4 inch hex-bit driver in the center.

The millimeter-calibrated version offers: 13mm, 12mm, 10mm, 8mm, and a 1/4 inch hex-bit driver in the center. I got one of each, adding to Omega's keychain collection as well

I've found quiet utility in having this too sitting in the PALS/MOLLE webbing of my  Hazard4 LaunchPad iPad sleeve.

Following Steve's suggestion, I've even used it as  a fid on larger-diameter poly-rope, and have stirred my tea with it. It is an elegant piece, slimline and innocuous for  what it offers. As with many of my pieces, it is multifunctional and hardy. Although, best to be aware that whilst it is half as dense, and offers twice the tensile strength of 316 stainless steel, it isn't a miracle metal like adamantium. 

Still, its a gorgeous tool that I am glad to have added to my collection and hope to give it a lot of use as the days roll on.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Review: ZenoDW - El Jefe

Time for another piece of pocket-gadgetry! This is a piece I Kickstarted, and have been carrying in my pocket for some time now, without having posted anything about it. No fault of the piece, in fact, that might even be a selling point. Unobtrusive!

This is El Jefe, by Zeno DW. It is cut from bronze, and measures57mm x32mm x 5mm (2 1/4"x 1 1/4"x 3/16"). What makes this dense little piece of bronze so useful is that it is firstly topped off with a belt-loop sized notch, to hang from pants or pack, ensuring it stays handy, especially if you are carrying keys. Bottle opener is pretty standard, but never unwelcome. A hole for a key-carrying split loop is also pretty standard. But here is where this little tool comes into its own, a bonded ferrocium rod and accompanying steel striker (on the keychain) sits along one of the long edges, giving you sparks on demand, right there in your pocket.

The most exciting thing about this fob however, is the ceramic knife sharpening rods set into the "keyhole" looking notch on the opposite long edge. I have fixed up a number of workplace kitchen knives with this little beauty.

So, between the solid billet of bronze (which I have sitting on the bitter end of my multi-tool lanyard), the Jefe adds some rustic charm to my EDC, along with the multifunctionality I prize in all my gadgets. Its only drawback perhaps, is the very rough nature of the finish. It looks like something you'd find in the back of a drawer in your grandfathers workshop. I don't mind that at all, but some might.  I also wonder what kind of glue the ferrocium and ceramic rods are held on with, and what kind of conditions would dislodge them. None that my pants have been exposed to, as yet, so I'm not too worried.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Home Front: self storage facilities.

I was recently called upon to help a friend empty a storage container at a self-storage facility. I've moved house so many times that it's pretty much second nature to me, and I can Tetris pack a truck or car like no-ones business.

What struck me, at my first visit to a self storage facility was the wide open space that it covered, and how nondescript it was. From the outside, beyond the high fence the unadorned corrugated walls of the facility offer little indication of what lays within, and also blocks off almost any of the lines of sight into the premises, other than via the coverable gate.

The other thing that struck me was the size of the site. There were two distinct warehouse sized buildings, the main one was two floors in size.

In the building we were in there were 40 storage lockers to a corridor, and three corridors, upstairs, and single set of 40 below, with road access. Two sets of metal stairs permitted access, one fright lift. The lockers didn't reach the ceiling. on the ground floor or on the first floor. This gives both clearance for ambient lighting, and reduces fire risks.

The floors were laminated chipboard over a steel grid frame, perhaps not the most structurally sound substrate, but cheep and easy. Each locker we individually roller-doored and padlocked, and offered full enclosure, and were approximately 3m tall, by 4m wide and 1.5m deep. When you do the math, that is a lot of cubic meter storage in one of these places.

Why does any of this matter?

 This place screamed safehouse to me.
Out of the way, in an industrial area, few to no staff, or regular clients-on-premises it is the kind of place most people would drive past and never give a second glance to. And it is potentially filled with a variety of trash and/or treasures

 The upper areas were spacious, airy and well lit even on a cloudy day by the skylights. The floor was a good 4-5m off the street level thanks tot he steel girder legs and there were no motion or light exposing side windows.

The cross-building connector bridges  gave a look-down view over the central driveway, again, without being exposed to the street, and offered more covered and lit areas. I could imagine hanging gardens doing really well here, fed by rainfall collected from the wide flat roofs.

The whole structure, baring the floors was sheet steel and girder, if you discount the polycarbonate sunroof sheeting. I can imagine that it would probably weather a great number of environmental disasters fairly well (apart from tornado strike perhaps).

A potential source of loot, (and looting, parties, lets be fair), and lacking in basic infrastructure, this is however the making of a modern day walled citadel.

Let the walking dead, the floods or plagues come, this kind of facility might make a good refuge in a urban environment.

Unless you are trapped in one with an angry alien, perhaps.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Home Front: LEGear - 5.11 concept store

One of the places I look to for my kit is LEGear, an online store for Law Enforcement, Military and Outdoor products in Australia and New Zealand, who refer to themselves as a  “One Source – Total Solution Provider” for government needs. In June they opened a third brick-and-mortar store, this time in my home town. 
In both a soft-launch and grand opening, the good folks from LEGear, opened their doors and hosted a BBQ, as well as spending time answering questions about their stock.  

I have covered a bunch of kit I've bought from and/or received for review from LEGear before, such as my much loved First Spear Oagre vest, a pair of Blackhawk pants and shirt. I sought out the LEGear team at the SSAA SHOT show and met up with the folks from Fenix through them. 

It turns out that the Melbourne LEGear store is also a 5.11Tactical  Concept store.
Avid readers will also recall that I have a soft spot for 5.11 gear as well, with a collection of their ATAC A1 flashlight,  the CUB Karambit and several different styles of their pants. I also got to meet 5.11 CEO, Tom Davin, who was responsible for the Tactical Kilts going into production. Was a real treat to talk to him, and even got to put in a request for Kryptek as the next pattern choice they might look into.

So, all you Melbournites interested in the full range of 5.11 Tactical gear, from boots to bags, belts and clothes, as well as Fenix lights, and Benchmade blades go check it out! 

A full range, all the colours and sizes on hand.

Boots, Boots, Boots.

Monday, August 4, 2014

400 Posts! - Indexes: now with more entries!

 So, another little milestone for my efforts, this is my 400th published entry.

From the first post till now, since December 2, 2011 till August 4 2014 I've been tapping away, reviewing, adventuring, testing and fooling about.

I've had some great luck with some awesome contacts, and gotten to try out some really cool kit along the way, as well as making some good friends and hopefully entertaining and maybe even educating some folks out there.

Here's how I reflected on the last few milestones:

300th Post; a call-out for guest writers (thanks Tony)

200th Post; my Mayan calendar loadout post.

100th Post; a Q&A request, that garnered no comments or questions.

1st Post; outlining what I hope to accomplish with the writing.

Work-life has been a bit hectic recently, eating into my writing capacity (the cheek!) but I hope to be in a mental state to be able get a bunch more out over the next few weeks whilst the Contracts people work their glacial magic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Home Front: Sea Levels

originally posted as  @Fenstardeluxe southbank-flood1
I live "by the Bay", the beach is a 2 minute drive from my house. When I dig in my garden, my soil is predominantly sandy. When it rains, I often loose internet (though that might be more to do with the wiring that Alexander Bell may have let his less than competent cousin install, rather than out location's fault).

originally posted as @Fenstardeluxe southbank-flood2
All of this plays a part in my thinking, especially considering prepping, when I consider my pathways too and from home in my day to day life. This is accentuated when we get exciting weather  as we did on June 24, when high winds and low pressure pushed the Yarra River back in from the Bay, causing it to burst its banks.

This was only a minor inconvenience, nothing like the flooding seen by the Hurricane Katrina storm surge,  or the far more ruinous flooding that frequently occurs in places like Bangladesh
but still gave me pause to think.

@MEL_J_84 southbank-flood3
There is a lot of talk about the validity of the human climate change arguments, and its affect on both sea levels and the propagation of that climate change. I'm going to come out and say it, I'm satisfied with the assessments I've read thus far. I'm convinced.

What it will all mean in practical effects, I'm not yet certain of, one way or another, but I think we will start to see a lot more ruinous weather. Perhaps not Split Second bad, for a while, but not good.

There are even some good references out there using GoogleMaps topographical information to offer predictions as to how sea-level rises will affect low laying areas. Check it out, and check out where YOU live in relation to this. Melbourne is renowned for being built beside a swamp and having several water ways diverted through its CBD, leading to some spectacular historical images. It's quite a sobering thought to wonder what might be coming, in just a few short years.

My recent holiday to Fiji reminded me of this even further, with that Pacific islands sand beaches, like so many others I have visited over the years. So many low-laying islands that are at risk of simply being inundated.

This island I visited would have only been 4m above sea-level at its peak, and being an all-sand and coral outcropping, would face erosion threats even before succumbing to sea levels reaching that height. 

With news of the glacial ice-calving at the Poles and other alarming news, it bears dwelling on. What will happen when the water rise? Where will you be, what will you do? Will it be a gentle swell, or a surge that cuts you off from home?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Review: Z-Medica QuickClot Sport bandage

You may recall a while back I tried to get my hands on QuickClot kit by Z-Medica as a part of the ITS Trauma kit but ran in to all kinds of export-issues, where the military grade kits were not for distribution outside of the USA.

I never gave up looking though, and found an alternative supplier, Urban Conquest who, whilst they didn't supply the military-grade versions of the impregnated bandages, with the variety of formats and including x-ray tracking strips and the like, still offered the basic properties of a blood-clotting treatment in a vacuum packed and irradiated sterile package. It looks as though they may no longer stock them however. However, Survival Supplies Australia stock similar (and more advanced) products.
The active ingredient in these products is a kind of clay or clay-stone, albeit in a very high-tech version of it, kaolin or zeolite to rapidly clod bleeding, with out any harmful side effects.

The fibers of otherwise standard medical gauze are impregnated with this material and apparently on application, it rapidly promoted clotting. Some products (in the military and EMT lines, are set up to be deposited deep within penetrating wound cavities such as gunshot and shrapnel wounds, and are reported as being able to stop arterial bleeding. How Kaolin works.

Given the chemistry involved, it should be noted that when working the clotting agent can heat up, something for both patient and responder to be aware of.

I got hold of two different sizes of kit, two of the 25g pouch (3.5" x 3") or 50g pouch (4.75" x 4.75") . I have one of each in my EDC pack, and whilst have not cracked on out to use it (thankfully, no heavy bleeding has presented itself for me to treat any time recently) I like having them there. The 25g pouch is small enough that it can slip into a pants front-pocket and pretty much vanish.

The compact nature of the kits very much lend themselves to having some on hand for any outdoor adventure, where you don't want to be left bleeding through bandages until you can get more serious medical assistance. For those of us who either live adventurous lives, have adventurous families or both, these might be well worth adding to your EDC as well. You never know when you might be called on to plug a hole.
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