Thursday, September 21, 2017

Home Front: storm's a commin'

I'm really proud of this post, which I'd delayed publishing for logistical reasons, but found out had been picked up by 5.11 TACTICAL, as a "Breach-Bang-Clear Senior Staff Contributor" , which I am doubly proud of! So, without further ado, here's my take on being ready to be smacked with several mega-storms one after another.

Recent meteorological events in my old hometown of Houston, and the subsequent humanitarian concerns that came with the destructive flooding being experienced in the lowlands of Houston, have all gotten me thinking. Irma GERD is hitting Florida and the Caribbean, and... Well piloted, Captain, Delta DL302!

I've had the good fortune never to have had to evacuate an area, though my family's rapid departure from Dubai on December 31, 1990, some three weeks before one of the grandest fireworks shows in history happened just over the horizon in Iraq, was close. I've also had the need to be ready to go, when I lived in the forested Dandinong ranges following the black Saturday fires of 2012. However, frequent moves and travel while growing up equipped me with a certain mindset. Pack light, take only what you can carry, and carefully choose what valuables you really need. When things took a turn for the worse for me emotionally at the end of my marriage, I packed bags, loaded essentials in my car and was out of there that same evening. Better for everyone in the end. I was lucky that some good friends of mine had a spare room and the open hearts to let me crash with them for a couple of months so I could get my life in order. I'm deeply indebted to the Moffits and will be for some time.

I'd hope that if I lived in a disaster-prone area I'd be ready whenever hurricane, cyclone, tornado or volcano season rolled around, and not only would I have a bugout destination but also a route and plan. However, nature gives not one damn for me or my plans, nor (I suspect) for yours. It's up to you and me to rescue ourselves.

The Houston floods have shown that freak events can essentially turn a modern metropolitan city off, and reduce it to third world status. Without wanting to go into the politics of civil engineering and infrastructure shortfalls, I think it's fair to say that while some of what was happened in Houston or New Orleans could have been mitigated, nature will find a way. So what can we do about it? I think the answer to that is threefold:

1) Threat assessments;
2) Risk mitigation & planning; and
3) Practice.

1) Threat assessment.

Where I live several state and federal agencies exist to deal with this kind of thing. The SES (State Emergency Service) and CFA (Country Fire Authority) have great resources available to determine whether certain areas are at risk from fire or flooding, and can deal with those threats. Victoria has occasional very mild earthquakes, nothing to brag about. We do occasionally get heavy storms pushing up from the Antarctic but again, pretty mild compared to the North Sea gales or Atlantic hurricanes. We're well too far south for any tropical action, unlike our Queensland bretheren. We do get some big winds and heavy rains occasionally though, so in the Hills (to call the Dandinong ranges mountains is generous) power is often cut due to tree-falls. A caved-in roof during a winter storm is never a good thing, nor are washed out roads. In the lowlands that water has to go somewhere, and we are pretty lucky in that current and former governments have maintained infrastructure to deal with it. However. Knowing is the first step.

Melbourne Water is proposing to update existing planning controls for land in Bayside that's susceptible to flooding. The controls, called the Special Building Overlay (SBO) and Land Subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO), aim to ensure that land covered by the overlays is developed in a way which reduces the potential for flooding and minimises the risk of flood damage to property. Since the planning controls were introduced in the early 2000s, Melbourne Water has developed better mapping and more accurate flood modeling. As a result, the SBO boundaries are being updated and the LSIO removed from the Bayside Planning Scheme.

The changes to the boundaries of the SBO mean that some properties will be within the overlay boundaries for the first time, some properties will no longer be covered, and other partially-included properties may have more or less of their land covered by the overlay.

For properties within the SBO boundaries, a planning permit is required to construct a building, carry out works and subdivide land. This enables drainage and flooding issues to be addressed early in the development process by, for example, raising building floor levels. It also ensures that flood waters are not obstructed or diverted by new development, causing an increased problem for existing development.

2) Risk mitigation & planning.

What are my big threats to house, home and family? Well, my ex-wife and our 9-year old daughter live in the Dandinongs, in the midst of very tall trees in the temperate rainforest. There is a summertime fire risk mitigated by maintenance of the grounds to remove deadfall and reduce fuel sources, plus they have an evacuation plan and use the CFA fire-risk scale system as a guide and routinely "get off the mountain" in times of high risk. In winter they face storms and damage from runoff. Frequent power outages are a hassle, especially as the water to the house is via an electric pump from a rainwater tank. Landslides are a potential risk but more substantial is the risk of a tree falling on the house. Aggressive tree felling is not much of a solution given the local ordinances. When I collect and return our daughter, I'm mindful of the risk of roads being cut by treefall and associated downed power lines or washed out roads, but day to day it's not much of an issue. In the case of my own home, having checked the floodplain maps of the Melbourne Water Board, I can see we're just outside a predicted 100-year flood area. One end of our street is not though, so I'm going to err on the side of "Yep, we'd flood."

Where I live is fairly suburban so I don't have to worry about bushfires come summer, but we're not far from the beach, just above sea level, so a hefty storm surge could potentially reach us. I don't worry about a tidal wave as the Port Phillip Bay is shallow and protects us from the Bass Straight, so anything big enough to cause a tsunami would bring its own special dooms. Knowing that, if a big flood event was coming, or even imminent, our best bet would be to pack up and bug out. The house, being old and rickety, couldn't be trusted to withstand even a knee-deep flood, let alone the hip, head or street sign deep waters as in Houston.

The question then becomes "what to pack?" Assuming the house would be a write off and most of our possessions would get trashed it might be tempting to try to take everything, but that's just impractical. A moving van would be needed and would take a day or two to load up anyway. Alternately, in a "do it NOW" situation, the decisions become easier. Only the most valuable and irreplaceable things would go, as well as things needed to get us through the disaster. Photo albums, back-up HDD's and some heirloom antiques are a good start, along with some important legal documents: deeds, birth certificates, divorce papers and the like. Clothes and day to day essentials like toiletries and medications are no different from any vacation packing and need to be weather appropriate. We'd be bugging out in my Toyota RAV4, not much of a bug-out vehicle but comfortable even crammed full of family and gear when we go on our camping holidays, so we have an idea how to pack it. This brings me to one of my bug-out or camping packing tricks.

Tactical Milk Crates. These seemingly ubiquitous, stackable, skletonised plastic boxes, designed to carry sixteen 2L jugs of milk, are often repurposed as student household furniture and storage. The modularity of these makes them good for packing anything small enough to fit. They'll hold 42 regular 420g-sized cans. That makes for 17kg of beans and diced tomato, in one big water-insoluble brick. That's a lot of meals. Two people could carry it fairly easily between them.

I also pack my camping gear in them: hammocks, lanterns, propane store and fuel canisters, pots and even pans. I have one for sleeping bags, one for power generation technology and one for "household" camp-accessories. Coupling this with our big-assed tent and camp bed, I'd say I could bug out in relative style with my whole family using about six milk crates of gear. The boot of my car can fit none to twelve crates with relative ease, so that leaves us with, let's say, three to six crates worth of refugee loot we can pack and go with, less if we pack extra food and water .

Given those numbers, each member of our four-person family gets about one crate of space as their allowance. Extra space can get stuffed full of blankets and jackets, filling all those gaps and pockets with padding and the like. One thing to note is that milk crates, being skeletonised, are not even remotely waterproof. Lining them or wrapping them with heavy duty trashbags should do the trick, and includes some trashbags in your gear by default.

As an addition to our bugout plan for floods, we have my two-person kayak. Having a non-wading means to cross waterways is key. We have maritime-rated flotation vests for everyone in the family, especially the kids, plus helmets, be they bump or bike helmets (remember: expanded foam floats). Rope and climbing harnesses don't go astray either, and I figure I have enough rigging gear to set up a rope bridge over any river narrow enough to sling one across. Take a page from the SES floodwater guidelines: "Never drive ride or walk through floodwater - if it's flooded, forget it."

Have a go-to destination in mind, maybe more than one, and plan out different routes, in case of traffic snarls, cut roads or bridges or obstacles to your egress. Keep your vehicle fueled and fit for travel. Stock up on packable food. A couple of bricks of cans at your local big-box produce store per trip will put you in good stead.

Bear in mind that in most cases the milk crates yo use stacked behind a grocery store are not abandoned but remain the property of the milk company. That's why I suggest them as as evacuation expedient solution. Should the situation arise getting it done is key. There are commercial options for packing gear, look into those if your budget allows.

3. Practice

Evacuations are not easy things; they're panicked, rushed and anxious times. Much like in combat, fine motor skills will be affected, rational thought will be interfered with. Kids will cry. Things will be left behind. Organize your bug-out kit early and have it sorted and ready to go. The more you can do early, the better off you'll be under the pressure of "time to go!" Remember, it's going to be harder if it's night, or storming and wet, more so again if the water is already at your ankles or the embers are falling.

There's no harm in doing dry runs either, especially if you can get the whole household in on it. Packing for a camping trip is a great opportunity to do so, with the payoff of the trip itself and "let's get on the way quickly" as incentive. This needn't be a "duck and cover" air-raid drill with stopwatch and sirens but instead some trial runs, from a dead stop to a "half the gear is already packed." I'll let you gauge how long it will realistically take you to be on your way, with the barest of essentials from when you decide that your position is no longer tenable and it's time to make a move. Make tasty meals from your stashed bug-out meal ingredients to get a handle on what you can do to keep morale up whilst on the go.

Lastly, have plan for your pets. Take them with you, or set them free to fend for themselves, whatever your conscience allows.

Be safe out there, and be prepared.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Quick review: Gloax - MP Magic socks!

Everyone loves a pair of good socks. Your feet will thank you and it can really make a difference to your effectiveness. Regular socks, be they woolen, cotton or more exotic materials like bamboo or the like are a big step up from nylon or acrylic blend, especially when it comes to smell. However, science has advanced and offers some other alternatives.

After a sweaty work out, or a long travel, or in the morning, you will definitely appreciate the difference a pair of clean dry socks. even more so if they're not stinky and are comfortable. The clever minds behind the Glovax gloves would like to introduce their MP Magic socks, they claim as "world's best odorless socks".

These socks are made from some very unique materials; This fabrics are infused with not one, but three antimicrobial metals: Silver, Copper and Zinc! Multiple metals can kill more types of odour and disease causing microbes. The the antibacterials effects will be much better than single. Silver is known as a great antibacterial meta, featuring in everythign from bandages to homeopathic potions, copper can kill bacteria too and it is also a key component of many enzymes, Zinc can reduce bacterial loads and thus odour too! This three metal infused technique takes existing techniques and layers them for increased coverage and effects. Based on a specially treated cotton, with a proprietary blend of mineral substances, enhance the performance of the metal elements, and  are never washed away.

I wear boots. all day, every day. That's a pretty rough task for any sock. I hike, train and work in my boots. In winter time I like to leave my socks on because I'm very tall and my feet stick out of the covers. even with daily sock changes and foot washing, that takes a toll. I was sent some of these socks and tried them out. I wore the same pair for a week. I chose the ankle socks because I was purely interested in the foot effects. They were great!

With these functional fabrics, you can take off your shoes without any hesitation over worrying about their smell. A weeks worth of almost constant wear,including a 4 hour hike and a few hours of Viking training. My feet felt great and smelled pretty good too. The socks are breathable and even when my feet got hot and sweaty, a quick pull out and wave around both cooled them and dried then off. Think that comes down to the metal infusion of the fabric but also the design and cut of the sock certainly comes into it. More than just a modern miracle textile, these specially designed the socks at the toe and heel area, perfectly match the human foot shape, make that part super breathable and durable!

With their metal infused fabric these socks are designed to transfer heat more efficiently, and be more durable! Odorless, Comfortable, Antibacterials, super durable,Breathable. I gave them a pretty solid thrashing and they bounced back well. They work well as advertised, are comfortable and resilient day after day.

The Glovax team, just finished a campaign about a set of rugged cool work-gloves. Which are well worth checking out as well.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Home Front: Shooting in Melb

When I came home from work Monday night (6/6/17) a couple of months ago now I walked down the dark street to my car, before driving to collect my littlest one from after-school care, secure in the knowledge that I was probably the scariest thing walking the streets of my green-leafy, upmarket suburb. The fact that there was a helicopter holding station not far away didn't bother me in the slightest. We live near a major highway and there are often accidents. They didn't have a spotlight going so I figured they weren't looking for anyone, nor were they in a search pattern, but were just hovering at altitude. After I collected my little one they were still up there, so I cheerfully pointed them out and she asked if they were chasing robbers. I replied I didn't think so, and we headed home.
Dinner was hot out of the oven and we sat down to lasagna and cartoons, with candles just for the hell of it. Halfway through the second episode of The Croods, a loud pop got our attention. We thought it might have been one of the candles, and gave it little further thought. About twenty minutes later our eldest daughter, media savvy Mz19, burst in from her Overwatch gaming saying, "There's been a shooting in Bay Street, it's on the news". We scrambled for our devices and checked. The last time someone had said "Turn on the news!" like that had been on 11th September, 2001. The news that was unfolding was that in our quiet, little, rich old retirement home suburb of Brighton, a hostage situation had ben unfolding.

We had missed the drama in its entirety, apart from the buzzing helo, by virtue of the fact that our slow-cooking Lasagna had needed nothing from the Coles supermarket down the street. I had turned left instead of right, so had missed the police cordon and shootout.

A Melbourne man, who was later named by Chanel 7 News as Yacqub Khayre, a young Somali refugee, had booked an escort from an escort agency, and had shot and killed an Australian national born in China who was the clerk at an apartment complex. The escort had been tied up and taken hostage and the gunman also placed a call to Chanel 7, in which he made a declaration on behalf of ISIS. Police were alerted by Chanel 7 and reports of an explosion at the apartments, and responded rapidly. The area was cordoned off, locals were instructed to stay in their homes, and foot traffic was directed to the local Coles supermarket.
The ensuing two-hour siege ended when the gunman emerged and began firing at police with an illegal  sawed-off shotgun. Two officers were injured in the hand and one in the neck. “Fortunately they are okay,” reported Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton. “Two of them are currently at hospital. One was treated at the scene and [the others] are still going under medical treatment. They are non-life-threatening [injuries] which is what we’re grateful about.”
Khayre was killed at the scene. Twenty to thirty shots were reported, with some new sources reporting it as "like machine gun fire." Given the solid professional reputation of the Victorian State Police, especially their SWAT-equivalent Special Operations Group, I was filled with relief that not only had they gotten the bad guy but that we, two blocks away, were never in any danger of him having gotten away and interfering with our quiet evening. As the saying goes. "Don't mess with Victorian cops, and especially don't mess with the SOGgies!" The hostage was released, distressed but unharmed.

As it turns out, the gunman was known to police already and was on a terror watch list. Yacqub Khayre had faced court in 2009 over a plot to bomb a Sydney army base. He was acquitted of these charges, but was later convicted on other violent offenses. Reportedly it was a clumsy plan, hatched in Melbourne in 2009, which, if successful, could have lead to the deaths of many Australian soldiers at Sydney’s Holsworthy army base. A 2010 trial revealed that Khayre had traveled to Somalia to look for clerics to give their blessing for the plan. His legal team had argued that he was looking for religious enlightenment and harbored no plan to wage jihad in Australia.Three other men were convicted over the plot to open fire on service people with high-powered weapons. The response by the counterterrorist branches has been comforting and  reassuring and as yet, no solid links have been released to the public.
"At the scene, when this person first arrived there, a man was shot, we believe, by the gunman," Victoria Police Commissioner Graham Ashton revealed on Tuesday morning. “He was an employee of the serviced apartments, so he appears to have been in the wrong place at, unluckily, the wrong time.” It has also been supposed that the incident was contrived in a bid to lure the police to the Bay Street complex, which it did, thankfully to a fairly mediocre end result.

Commissioner Ashton also told Channel 7 news, “Nothing thus far will suggest to us that this was planned or done in concert with others." Asked if he believed the gunman lured police to ambush and kill officers, Mr Ashton said, “It’s a possibility (but) we don’t know whether that was the case. Certainly a booking was made to see an escort at the premises. He then turned up at the premises with a firearm. That’s all been weighed into the calculations but we haven’t found anything like a note or any comment around that so far." Counterterrorism police have investigated Khayre's background, with enquries ongoing. The crime scene has been handed over to the coroner with homicide police assisting with the investigation, Commissioner Ashton added.

So the mystery of the hovering helo and the strange dinner time pop had been solved, our parents had been rung and reassured that nothing was amiss, and we bundled off to bed. I locked the screen door and fitted the extra latches, mostly so I didn't "accidentally" open the door, tomahawk in hand, and end up face to face with a SOG patrol if they decided to go door to door, rather than out of any particular fear of late night Jihadist door-knockers.
Tonight I stepped off my train from work and came face to face with a couple of strapping lads from the Protective Services branch who were on duty at my station. I was very pleased to see them. It's reassuring that we have patrols at the stations at night, which can be dark and lonely places, especially in light of our little local excitement the day before. This service had been ongoing for  number of months now. It's not a knee-jerk and North Brighton where I live isn't especially needful of it, but it's reassuring all the same.
I had an email from my daughters school, letting us all know about counseling services available if needed, which was also really nice. A couple of good links for helping kids with coping with terrorism are here:

Given we don't watch TV news as a general rule and we didn't witness anything directly, the only thing my little one was exposed to was an always-exciting helicopter in the night sky.
So in closing, even though he himself claimed it and the Daesh-heads themselves then claimed it, I think this was more a case of chip-on-shoulder suicide by cop than anything more sinister. My sympathies for the family of the wrong-place wrong-time clerk, and the now-named and publicly shamed gunman's family, and of course, the injured officers. I hope their scars earn them free drinks at the pub for years to come. Lastly and certainly not least, spare a thought for the traumatized escort who was held hostage by the dead asshole. I wish her a speedy recovery and many easy-to-work-with and big-tipping clients in the future.

Congratulations asshole, you murdered a bell-hop and brutalized a sex worker. You're not a martyred soldier, you're barely even a season ending episode of SVU.
We're not terrorized, we're barely even annoyed.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Review: Cinch'n'Clinch gear hangers

This was a Kickstarter that was a really simple idea, that was really just polishing up and producing a marketable product. The concept is simple enough, ad looped cord, with two slipping barrel knots forming a loop that tightens to bind in tightly around whatever piece of gear you want to hang. The creators of this Kickstarter just took a pretty common way of lashing items, and added a little flare, with shrink-wrapping around the knots and at the "handle" end of the over loop.

The idea with this is that you can drop the slipping loop over whatever you want to carry, and tighten both sides of the knots to bind it tight and give you a secure grab around your bottle.

We are currently using Type III mil spec 550 parachute cord. This is an inexpensive, lightweight, tough, and durable Kernmantle rope with truly extraordinary breaking strength, especially relative to its small diameter. We continue to research the best materials for the Cinch-N-Clinch, but our four most important factors in our decision will never change: durability, resistance to abrasion, UV resistance, and environmental footprint.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Talking Australian pt 2

Talkin' Strayin', Part Two: F-S
Apocalypse Josh
Hopefully you enjoyed A-E of my guide to Talkin' Strayin'.  I'll pick up where we left off, and get stuck into it with the F-words. But first some errata from the peanut gallery:
  • Divvy-van - Abbreviation of Police Divisional van. A paddy wagon. They are typically built up with a reinforced, enclosed caged cab on the back and used in place of a police cruiser for crowd control. "You're going home in the back of a divvy-van!"
  • Bagsie - It's (apparently) pronounced "bagsie", not bags.
  • Chuck - An overarm throw.
  • Bastard/cunt - Can be terms of affection but shouldn't be attempted unless you've known the bastard or cunt at least twenty years.
  • Drop bear - A blood-thirsty koala variant, much like a Chupacabra. Drops from trees onto hikers. Repelled by Vegemite worn on the face and behind the ears. "You'd have to be one mad bastard to go hiking up by Hanging Rock. If the aliens don't getcha, the drop bears sure would. Here, take this axe."
  • Digger - An Australian or New Zealander serviceman. "The Diggers rolled into town and that was it. The pub was full, the bottle-O got emptied, the town went dry. Disaster!"
  • Dinger - Rather archaic term for condom. Be warned, we call pencil erasers "rubbers" so if you're asked for one around a map table, it's more likely some 2nd leftenant made a boo-boo rather than asking for a prophylactic. You never know your luck, though.
Again, don't be scared of the naughty words. It's not like they're drop bears or hoop snakes.

  • Fag - A cigarette, not a gay fella. "Mate, I've been stuck in this school dance recital for hours. I'm dying for a fag."
  • Fella- A dude. A male person. Contraction of "fellow". Added to "black" as a suffix to indicate native Australian aboriginals (we don't refer to the indigenous peoples as African-Australians, because they're not. They're from here. First Australians is more commonly used). "Those fellas from level seven are the biggest bludgers in the whole department. Make us look good, that's sayin' something."
  • Fanny - Female genitals, not your butt. A fanny pack is generally called a "bum bag," but fanny pack will be understood (with snickering). "So Davo and this Sheila were boffing on the pool-table right there in the pub, in the middle of the storm, and all the sudden she yells out 'no, you're not putting it back in my fanny after you chalk it up, ya drongo.' "
  • Flog - To steal. Petty theft, i.e., shoplifting. "So, this couch? Hard-waste salvage. Shelves? Built it from scratch. Flogged the wood from that building site up the road. And the nails from Bunnings. The turntable was my granddad's. I'm a dead-set legend."
  • Fit to be tied - Crazy, very angry, furious. "We were coasting down the river, couple of lines on the water when Davo decides he needs a fresh beer. The dag stands up in the tinney, goes for a rummage in the Esky, overbalanced and tips us all in the  drink. All the beer, the days catch and our gear goes floating off down the river. I tell you what, I was fit to be tied."
  • Fair suck of the sausage - To be given a fair chance. Not a euphemism for fellatio. "At the end of the third quarter we were fourteen down, so I said to the coach, "Mate, fair suck of the sausage, put me in." And he was all, "What's the worst that can happen? On ya go, ya battler."
  • Fair go - To be given a fair chance. Australian culture is very strong on having a go, giving any task a try. More importantly, is the giving of the chance to do so. Ours is a culture of "Sure mate, I'll hold your beer, you give it a fair go."

  • Fuck - Just what you think. Also can be used in place of punctuation, up to and including hyphenation. "Absolutely-the-fucking-not you can't you pissant little fucking fuck-knuckle! That's a fucking one way street. No fucking way!"
  • Frig - Cut rate, nanna-safe version of "fuck". "What the frig do you think you're doing with that? Get it away from the fire before you do yourself a friggin' injury."
  • Golden - Good, perfect exactly as needed. " Just need to get the steaks on the barbie and the salad onto the table and we're golden!"
  • Good On ya. - Well done, congratulations. Sometimes sarcastic. "Well, you've burnt the steaks now. Good on ya."
  • How's this? - Sarcastic rhetorical observation. For example, in the midst of a massive thunder storm asking, "How about this rain then?"
  • Hoon - Pejorative for a recklessly speeding driver. "This drongo in a Camaro comes up to us at the lights, revving and waving at us wanting a race. The lights change and off he goes tyres smoking, right past the cops who rolled up as the traffic cameras were flashing. Idiot hoons."
  • Goon -  Cheap wine from a silver bag in a box. Adolescents' and students' choice. The silver bag is also called a goon bag. The empty bag makes an excellent drunk pillow. "Right there in the parking lot of Maccas was Davo's little brother, Stevo, with a bag of goon in each hand, spinnin' around. We called him over so he wouldn't get run over by some hoon, he makes it halfway before he spews all over his own shoes and one of the goon bags."
  • "Get this up ya" - An offer of food or drink, or other consumable. "Strewth, how bout that dust storm, hey? Come in and shut the storm shutters [pffsst- a can opens] and get this up ya."
  • Gobbie - Fellatio. Derivative of "gob," slang for mouth, as in "Shut yer gob, ya numpty". "So, me and Darlene were boffing in the park behind the stadium, and the cops rolled up. All flashlights and calling our parents, and they decided to take us home. Piled the two of us into the back of the divvy-van. Best gobbie I ever had."
  • I'm not here to fuck spiders - Sarcastic comment when someone states the obvious. Bartender: "Get you a beer, mate?" Me, covered in dust and sweating: "Well, I'm not here to fuck spiders."
  • knock shop - Brothel, usually an illegal, suburban one. "It turns out that Bon Jovi's 'Blood on Blood' isn't a good guide for how to negotiate with sex workers. And that is how we got laughed out of that Knock-shop on Drysburgh Street."
  • Knackered - To be gelded, more commonly, tired to the point of exhaustion. "After she climbed out of bed and got dressed, she turned to me and said, 'If you're not too knackered, I think Davo's sister thought you were a bit of all right too. Shall I send her in?' Best birthday camping trip ever!"
  • Mad bastard - Praise, usually for outlandish reckless behaviour, regardless of success. "The wave dumps him, he comes up spluttering, hops back on his board before the rip gets him. Someone up the beach sees some seaweed in the water and yells, "Shark!" So this mad bastard hops up on his board, pulls a dive knife from his ankle and waves it about yelling 'afix bayonets!' "
  • MacCa's - Abbreviation of MacDonalds. Micky-D's isn't a term used here. "After the birthday piss-up I legitimaly was knackered, so on the drive home we wanted to stop for a bunnings sausage sizzle. No joy, so perfect time for a MacCa's-run."
  •  Maggoted - Very very drunk, rotten drunk. "Trying to get this MacCa's run sorted and get everyone's orders, and Davo calls out from under the bean-bags, 'Large Hawaiian and a frozen coke.' Cunt was still so maggoted he thought we were doing a pizza run, not burgers."
  • Mate - Generic form of address, synonymous with buddy, fella, dude, bro. Can be endearing or demeaning depending on tone. "Mate, you okay in there? We heard a noise and now there's water coming out from under the door. Do we need to call a plumber, mate? Mate, he's fucked it."
  • Nah-yeah - I disagree with you. But yes I hear and understand you, I just disagee. "Nah-yeah, I can see the sign. I'm still going in, who's afraid of a few old 'quarantine, restricted area' signs? It's hot, I want to go for a swim." See Yeah-nah.
  • On the Piss - with Piss being a slang term for booze, being "on the piss" means going on a bender ....
  • **-O - Suffix to add a layer of casual familiarity of address. David becomes Dave-o. Stephen becomes Steve-o. see also Bottle-o and serve-o
  • Pissed - drunk or angry. "I was on the piss for hours, i was so pissed I was well passed maggotted. when I finally got home, boy, was my dad pissed with me!"
  • Prawn - what shrimp really are when they grow up. At least finger length.
  • Sick as - High praise, often for something frivolous or ridiculous. "Look at the cerakote on this bad boy. Full Mandalorian with racing-stripe for pew pew power! It's fully fuckin' sick as, mate!"
  • Serve-o - Abbreviation of "service-station," a gas/petrol-station. "Pull into the servo on the way back from the bottle-o after the MacCa's run, I need some fags."
  • She'll be right. - Platitude, equivalent to "Everything will be alright."
  • Smoke-o - Smoke break. "Can you watch the shop for five, I'm going for a smoke-o."
  • Sickie - Sick day from school/work. Often illegitimate. "After I polished off the last of the prawns from Davo's barbie, I knew I'd made mistakes and would have to chuck a sickie the next day."
  • Sick cunt - High Praise, or at least respect for poor or foolish behavior. A step up from "mad bastard. "
  • Shrimp - delicious pinkie-finger at most sized crustaceans, good on pizza. See Prawn.
  • Snag - a sausage. used as cheep BBQ food, the humble snag is an integral part of Aussie cuisine. Equivalent to the All American wiener hot-dog, the snag is a pork and beef mince blend, usually of a very fine consistency. "Prawns? stuff that, get some snags on the barbie,

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Review: Pocket Slingshot

 I took  a chance with Ali Express and bought myself a cool little gizmo that I'd seen online.  I got a pocket slingshot. These are really jut production version of a childhood toy that I remember fondly. In Victoria where I live, the humble Y shaped slingshot is a restricted / quasi-legal item, for whatever reason.

The concept is very simple, a plastic tube forms the frame to which an elastic pocket is attached. The pocket becomes the motive force to propel its projectiles. The package also included an archery brush attachment which is threaded and fits onto the plastic ring outer face, when the cover is off.

The elastic pocket is shaped to included folds and pleats to add to both its elastic potential but also add stress relief. In the old homemade pipe and taped on rubber washing-up glove fingers
 versions, the interface between pipe and glove always seemed to be the place where it would tear.

The plastic ring has a 5cm inside and 6cm outside diameter, and with either the threaded cap or the brush-bristled archery lid is only 3.5 cm deep. Its a very compact little unit. When the cap is on, the air can be expelled and the elastic pocket compacts down into the ring. Thusly sealed, there is even space for the ammunition of choice in the contained pocket.  I also bought a 100 unit lot of 6mm steel BB's and raided my daughters toy box for glass marbles. The third ammunition type are arrows.

When coupled with the archery lid, the soft round rubber notchings of the included arrrows protect the elastic pocket from tears that might come from traditionally nocked  arrows. The included arrows are only half-length more likely  to be crossbow bolts than traditional bow-archery shafts.

Now, it's hard for me to measure the functional power of the slingshot, as I don't have a chronometer handy, of an means to measure impact force. So all I can tell you about the force of the slingshot is anecdotal at this stage.  I did accidentally put a BB through the steel mesh of my front security door, hard enough to have it ping off the concrete wall on the other side of the street. (Always know what  you're shooting stand what's behind it!). I've managed to punch through a number of single and double thickness cardboard boxes.  I think I ill try soda cans and plastic bottles next. Glass marbles weigh more than individual BB's but also pack more mass. As with any caliber discussion: big and heavy hits harder but small and fast hits deeper. Further testing required.

It shoots pretty straight, and I've contentedly lobbed marbles the length of my house's long hallway into my target box. With no sights, aim is a matter of lining up the  pocket and the hang-held ring and eye-balling it. Using a couple of archery tricks like being aware of the archers paradox and practicing!

So, last night I set up a little range in the backyard. with a tactical crate as my target cage and partial BB trap. I put in a can of out-of-date Pepsi-Max and took a shot from a few feet away.  I wasn't wanting to do a test for realism, I just wanted to get a feel for its penetrative performance. At 2-3 feet away, and at a 2/3 draw, my BB hit in the bottom1/5 of the can, and in a riot of sugar-free foam, the can ruptured. After it finished draining I inspected the can and noticed that there was an exit hole too. I'd  call that a good trial run, though more testing may be required, I have a bunch of that old nasty Pepsi-Max siting around ...

So, the pocket slingshot is a fun little toy, and I suspect if you had a rodent or pigeon pest issue it might be a useful tool, and certainly fun for plinking cans with.  I don't think it would be much use hunting with, for anything bigger than maybe a squiril or rat ,and even then  I suspect you'd have to get a head shot. better to trap I suspect.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Review: Tensile style Skytent

I love tents and I love hammocks, and I've expressed a desire for one of the Tentsile aerial tents for a long time, but they are quite expensive. Not wanting to miss out forever, I kept an eye out and checked out AliExpress, where real things go to be replicated. For Giftmas I bought myself the one-person equivalent. I always feel a bit bad buying knock-offs but at the very least, its getting the very innovative concept out there.

So, given my ongoing stroke recovery and my work situation, we haven't ben able to go away camping, so I hadn't been able to tryout my aerial tent. Australia Day came around and we were invited to BBQ in a park, sounded like the perfect opportunity to try it out. I took some extra webbing strapping, in case we had trouble finding tree's to sling it on, but as it turned out the picnic table we picked was close to three gum trees. I unrolled the skytent from its stuff-sack bag and took stock.

The contents included the triangular base, made from webbing reinforced ripstop with a low (70D) Cordura number and (high quality silicon coating to give it a waterproof index of 2000-3000 mm) the base, which is about 4m a side, had built in reinforced eyelets for the two sets of shock-cord threaded anodised aluminium alloy poles and a light, waterproofed (to 1500-2000 mm)fly sheet to connect to.

It also came with three sets of 6m (19') loop-ended webbing, and shackles to for it to the base. At one end a ratcheting system for increasing the tension was supplied.
The base triangle comes with a breathable B3 bug-screen net with twin zippers. Built into the "roof" are two sleeves to feed the poles through to keep the roof in place and add stability when setting it up and to drape the fly over.

Once set up, which took a bit of doing (pro-tip; set the tent part up on the ground in the middle of your space, then string your straps. I rigged my straps with a truckers hitch. Getting partial tension on the tent to set it at a good height was just matter of sliding the webbing up to the right height, one tree at a time and tightening the truckers hitches once they were even. PRO-TIP 2: get the three corners as evenly high as possible. this will stop you sliding "downhill" on the slick ripstop nylon.

Once set up, the remaining slack can be eaten up with the ratchet, but this takes some doing. I'm glad we weren't setting it up in the rain. Once fully tensioned which it really needs to be, we put the fly on, which  had nylon hook hardware and shock-cords. The 240D fly has a single up-and-down zipper which coupled with the wide door in the flyscreen, makes a nicely framed entry/exit and window when pegged back. with its attached toggles.

The interior is spacious, the 4m sided equilateral triangle provide  almost 7m². of floorspace, with 1.2m (the almost 4') of loft, with its quite steep sides, there is  a lot of real-estate.

The wide webbing reinforcements throughout the base distribute weight nicely. I'm 192cm (6'4") and weigh 90kg (200lbs).  Laying right down the middle, legs splayed to the bottom corners, I was very comfortably supported.

This skytent is rated to carry 400kg (880lbs) and the heavy-duty ratchets buckles have a staggering 2.5 ton minimum breaking strength. Even so, the makers recommend only stringing it at a maximum 1.2m / 4' from the ground. As a good rule of thumb, you shouldn't set a hammock up from higher than you would want to fall from. Or climb into.

The supporting poles that give the skytent its vertical structure are seated in these washer equipped eyelets, and with the shaped ends of the poles, they seat securely and remain in place even with the rambunctious efforts of Tactical Baby. The seams are all also all double stitched. The whole tent is well finished.  I had had worries about the quality, given it was a knock-off, but it's been well made and put together.

All packed down, the tent weighs3.0kg or so, including the included webbing and the ratchet. and packs down into a stuff sack measuring 50cm x 20cm x 20cm. It's not too bulky nor heavy and would make an excellent addition to a backpack for a camping trip.

Internally as I've said it is spacious, but good set-up is key. if any one point of the triangle is higher or lower than the others the effect is a slow and steady slide to the lowest point.

I took it camping off to a full-emersion live action roleplaying weekend, "After The Fall" .
So I found myself three trees and set myself up. As with most tents, second time was much quicker and easier, and i'd had my lessons learned from my first attempt so it was pretty quick.  I even slung a second hammock along side, for lounging in when I was in my full tyre-armour kit. TO somewhat disguise the bright green of my tent and its fly sheet  I draped the whole thing in some scrim. One thing I didn't want was anyone tripping and falling onto me as I slept, so I put it a little higher than previously.

So high in fact I needed to step up onto one of my tactical milk-crates that I pack my camping gear into. I also stowed my kit under the hammock, off to one side from the Skytent, in case I did have a fall.

Inside at one of the three apexes was a pocket system which worked quite nicely with a jumper stuffed in it as a pillow. I used the zipper as an attachment point for my night-light as there weren't any internal loop hangers.

All in all I am both impressed by and happy with my SkyTent, and would heartily recommend you al lgo check out the original design at TENTSILE - Stingray

After an afternoons romping by Tactical Baby, and perhaps more roughhousing than was necessary, one of the poles has been warped and now adds an uneven curve to the dome, but no real issue there.  Certainly no fault in manufacture. I've managed to straighten it out a little but eventually  I might either replace it or run it through a pipe bender in reverse.

The Skytent handled nicely when occupied by two. even if one was little and bouncy and the other big and lumpy. Alas, I haven't tried it with two adults, but they are rated for it.
I put  a yoga mat in it when I camped, just as insulation, it was plenty comfortable to lay in in warm weather but any breeze below will chill you right down. Setting up an under-quilt like those made by the Go-Outfitters would work  a treat, but you'd need a triangular one.   

One thing I found was that the fly lifted and flapped about a bit, so I lashed it down underneath with some handy paracord.

All in all and excellent product and not just a gimmicky concept. all the benefits of a hammock and tent combined.

Pro-tip #3: set your doorway at chest height if you-re expecting friends to pop by. Nicer conversations for everyone when you can be eye-to-eye.

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