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.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Wish-Lusr: American Kami / Boker - Chickenhawk

US Fathers Day was coming up, and so was my birthday. This got me to thinking about shiny things to add to my collection, things I've thus far considered extravagant — but are perfect for my adoring tribe to buy me. First published on Breach Bang Clear in time for Father's day, here:

One such item is a piece from one of my favorite bladesmiths: D.J. Urbanovsky of American Kami. I already have one of his Super Colubris knives . It's my go-to camping kitchen knife and is on my hip at most outdoor cooking events. No ham is safe from me and my AK.

Something that always catches my eye when sorting through the American Kami range are his badass axes. As only an occasional lumberman and recreational camper, I've never had the practical need of a very expensive bespoke axe (much as I may have lusted after them). Things changed when D.J. released his line of smaller tomahawk-sized axes, in the Micraxes and heftier maniaxes.

Suddenly they are in my dilettante price range!

Grunts: dilettante.

Better still, just recently D.J.'s CHickenHawk tomahawk was picked up by Boker Plus for mass production. This is great news for us collectors who want a piece of the man's work, but don't need (or cannot finance) the man's actual blood, sweat and tears in the grooves of our chopper. I'm quite happy to have some German factory worker's skin cells stuck in mine. Anyway, this frees D.J. up to design and build new pieces of badass steel.

Sitting at an overall length of just over 9", the Chicken Hawk is significantly more versatile in terms of transportation and carrying options than a classically proportioned tomahawk. My current go-to tomahawk is my Boker Tomahook . You may not care, but it's my article so I'm going to tell you anyway.

The Tomahook sits at a hefty 18 1/8" overall, taking up a fair about of pack and hip space. The Boker Chickenhawk features full-body 440C steel construction, and is sandwiched between G-10. For those of you with deeper pockets, the American Kami hand-made version is cut from 6.3mm thick D2 steel making for an essentially indestructible tactical tool.

With its main cutting edge length of 2 1/4 in. (though still in keeping with we've seen from D.J. in the past), the axe head is also dressed along the top edge all the way to the eye. The concept is rounded out by the impact element formed on the pommel. Weighing in at a not insubstantial 576 g (1.3 lbs), it has the mass to make its presence known.

The ergonomically shaped handle not only supports classic hacking, but also permits a securely chocked grip for detailed work, be it for whittling, scraping or cutting. Not to mention levering if popping Masterlock Padlocks is something within your remit to do.

The Boker Chickenhawks feature a thick spikes pick at the butt, but some of the American Kami version featured the alternate hammer face. I'm of two minds about this; hammers are excellent tools and effective at delivering impact force, but a well made, tempered spike can save your regular fixed blade knife from being used inappropriately. If I had to choose just one from a pair of near twin, I think I'd pick the spike over the hammer.

The included Kydex sheath with strap cannot only be carried on the belt or gear but also under the arm. These early models (not in my collection) have eyelets for simple paracord lacing attachment, but the Boker Plus production runs have a multi-point lacing construction for attaching them to packs, belts or chest rigs. I think I'd like to see how running one in the arm-pit would work for me and my adventures on and off trail.

The Chicken Hawk is a beautifully designed and executed, vicious but sensible looking little axe that I'd very much like to add to my collection, should any of my family be thinking of ways to treat me this coming Fathers Day, to save myself from socks or pouches (another favorite). Knowing the quality of the American Kami originals and the Boker Plus mass-productions pieces, I'm happy to recommend anyone interested in one of these to get in there and add one to your tool collection (or that of your dad's).

If you're planning to get your Nathaniel "Hawk-eye" Bumppo or Ragnar Lodbrok on (or you think your old man will), you could do far worse than having one of these at your hip or tucked unobtrusively under your arm.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Review: Savoury Tooth - Not-Sweet bars

Whilst getting ready to get back to work, I went and got some new pants, as I'd lost enough weight that my pant-size had changed. Whilst in Kathmandu looking or suitable pants, I came across some interesting snack-bars and thought I'd give them a go. Given that my job entails me sitting at my desk tapping out code and putting out electronic fires, I eat a lot of food-bars as it's fast and easy. However, mindful of my diet, I was intrigued to see these are not sweet-candy bars like many trail snacks are, I've covered some in the past. The Bounce food-balls and the Blue Dinosaur Paleo Bars which are both good products, but both pretty sugary.

These protein bars are primarily made of a whey protein concentrate purported to lower blood sugar levels when consumed before a high glycemic meal and is the most complete protein.

They feature a polydextrose binding agent, where something like treacle or molasses might be used in other food. The one used in the Savoury Tooth bars is a low GI soluble fiber with prebiotic properties.

It helps to slow down the digestion process alleviating blood sugar spikes. Reducing sugar rush effects.

Heavily spiced, with woo-seeming ingredients like turmeric for its active polyphenol known as curcumin purported to help provide an ideal intervention for type 2 diabetes. Ginger, chilli, cinnamon, coriander, lemongrass and garlic have also been shown to help lower blood sugar levels.

Importantly, these bars taste amazing, and had a really nice texture: Not too hard to bite or chew, but not mushy or pasty. Dense and rich. The seeds included gave each bite a variety of texture. Food fatigue is a real thing, and having some variety makes a lot of difference, remember that when you're loading up your bunker or bug-out bag.

The Svoury Tooth bars come in "Thai Green Curry" and "Thai Peanut Stay". Both really do taster like they are described. For me, after a few chews, and rolled the bite around in my mouth, the flavours emerged and I found myself recalling street meals I had in the streets of Bangkok and Singapore I had growing up. I'd go as far as to say these were authentic flavours, from my non-native pallet. Jut a hint of spice, certainly enough to get the mouth juices flowing, but not so much as to drive me to rinse my mouth out or reach for he milk. Certainly enough to satisfy the Texan in my culinary history. Not Jakarta Crazy-Wings hot, by a long shot, but not Vanilla thickshake either.

From a nutritional perspective, the

Savoury Tooth protein bars are great after any workout. Each 50g bar offer s 870kJ of energy, or 10% of a 2000cal daily diet. 21-19% of the protein intake 13% of the fat and 6% of the carbs. There is quite a lot packed into these little bars, but the heavy seed and spice content, the bars come with a reasonably short best-before dates, ofonbly a few months as the rich aromatics would age poorly.

I've found the couple I bought to be very tasty and fun to eat and a perfect break from other sweet snacks. Not as satisfying as beef-jerky, but still, a good pre-packaged snack.

The advertising was great too, these post-cards made me chuckle even months later when I pulled them out.

Low in sugar, with complex carbs, high in protein, and dietary fiber, Gluten free these seem to be really viable healthy alternatives to other candy-like sports and protein bars. I'm not a big fan of woo, and straight edge vegan, paleo lifestyles, but these healthy bars don't wrankle me as soy-based, cruelty-free fair-trade hippie-bars might, they are more the granola eating, merino-wool beanie mountain climber food. plenty of bang for your mass!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Review: CampMaid's Charcoal Chimney

I love cooking, and I love fire. cooking outdoors is always so satisfying, especially when done over fire. BBQ's a re primal, an whilst LPG or propane is fast and convenient, its not quite the same. However. getting a fire going takes time and effort and can be fiddly and messy, not to mention frustrating if you're running to a schedule.

I came across a tool to assist In the starting of briquette bbq's on Kickstarter, and thought it would be a good investment. Camp Maid make a variety of camp-fire cooking tools, mostly focusing on cast-iron Dutch oven type cooking tools, but their Kickstarter project for a collapsible charcoal chimney caught my eye.

CampMaid's Charcoal Chimney is a unique twist on the traditional concept to quickly heat charcoal for outdoor cooking! The twist being that the sides of the chimney are hinged so it folds flat for storage and packing. Designed to fit inside the lid of a 12" Dutch oven to keep all your sooty-gear together!

The principle is pretty simple. Up to 45 briquettes at a time are loaded into the top of the chimney, onto the fold-down grill that creates an air-space under the coals for you r kindling or solid-fire-starter cubes. I typically use the fire-Cone starter and kerosene from the big old tank on our property (a hold over from the redundant oil-heating system the house was built with. Once lit, the Quickly heats charcoal in about 7-10 minutes and you're ready to grill.

A handle on the side assists with placement and emptying once its hot and ready to go. The handle is supposed to be heat-safe. However, id recommend wearing gloves. and take care. my handle melted and caught on fire! Once the plastic sloughed off and burned away, it was fine but be aware.

Both the body of the chimney and the handle fold flat for easy of storage, though I found once fired, it took some manipulation to get it fully flat. The inner grill needs to be folded up but the inside of the chimney has space for it.

Also it can be used as a hobo stove. with the internal grill down, pretty much any solid combustible fuel can be placed in its burn chamber, and the rigid sides act as a base for a pan or pot, or even to hold the skewers for your rat-on-a-stick. For camping, tailgating, scouting, backyard, beach, survival the CampMaid Charcoal Chimney makes for a simple, dependable, portable fire pit you can leave in the trunk of the car.

So, it's a simple enough piece of kit, is small enough to slip down the back of a backpack (when cool, and maybe even rinsed off). It not only gives you a contained fire-pit, and a chimney for rapid charcoal lighting.

The fact that the handle melted and caught on fire was a bit distressing, but it's loss has been inconsequential to its ongoing use. One thing to note is hat they do rust, especially after firing. This has made the hinges a bit stiff, but a dose of WD40 should fix that. I've thought of painting the whole thin with a fire-tolerant paint but its probably unnecessary. I might cut some notches into the upper lip to give my skewers some purchase but again, not essential by any means.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wish-Lust: Go Outfitters UnderQuilt.

Here's a pre-emptive Kickstarter post for the new project by GO! Outfitters, who bought us one of my favorite camping hammocks, the  asymmetrical GO! Hammock  
and the outer-shell for it, the Apex Camping Shelter & Hammock Camping Tarp and the upcoming, and freshly released Kickstarter Project, the Adventure Under Quilt: Hammock Camping Insulation. 

The idea of the UnderQuilt is to ensure that the underside of the  hammock sleeper stays toasty warm. As more people are switching from tent camping to hammock camping. they are coming across an unusual phenomenon; they often find that their backsides can get cold fast, because it's exposed cool air and wind. Some people use sleeping bags in hammocks but the insulation gets compressed and doesn't work as it would on the ground.

Others sleep on sleeping pads, but keeping them in place can be a nightmare in a hammock. They slide around and bunch up inside the walls of  the hammock, and can be far from comfortable. The UnderQuilt adds a layer of insulation to the outside of the hammock, freeing up the internal space, which is at a premium, as well as adding an extra layer of weather-proofing.

Filled with  100% Polyester Max Loft 10° Insulation.  but we have set the Temperature Rating of the quilt conservatively at 20°F). plenty warm enough for anywhere  I would want to camp in a hammock, to be sure. with a
210T Ripstop Polyester, Calendered, Water and Wind Resistant Shell Fabric and
210 Polyester, Breathable Liner Fabric not that it matters greatly as you won't be touching the liner, as the whole thing sits under the skin of your hammock. Designed with their own Hammocks specifically in mind, but will suit any gathered-end hammock, thanks to the ingenious cinching self-locking drawstrings and built in attachment systems, the UnderQuilt will suit up to a 7' user. 

It is 81 long and " 52" wide, and comes with its own weatherproof stuff-sack packing down to a mere  1lb. 9oz. (Includes: Under Quilt, Compression Stuff Sack, 2 Carabiners, and Built-In Shock Cord Suspension rig) all in a  8" diameter  x 10" long bundle.

I really like the idea of this, and hope to back it myself, for those rare camping trips I get  to take. Winter is coming, and I'm a skinny kind of guy at the best of times, and my bony ass needs all the warmth I can give it.   Do check out the deals on their Kickstarter page, the bundles would make an excellent way of starting your own hammock camping collection.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review

So it seems someone signed me up for Recoil's OFFGRID. Awesome surprise when I got home. Review to follow. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Review: khukri

One of the first "real" pieces of weapon-steel I ever bought for myself was a khukri that I purchased on-auction back in 1997, with wages from a part time job I had at the time. It was a WW2 era Gurkah blade and was only listed as a "good" condition, but that was good enough for me!

The khukri is a traditional knife design from Nepal, where it is as much a piece of farm equipment, or household knife as it is a weapon. It fills the same niche as the machete does in the America's or Africa. It's a simple, uncomplicated blade that is up to the task of rugged, daily rural use.

Read the rest here on Breach Bang Clear! 


They still work just fine and in fact, effortlessly bit into this beam, and I felt that in 5 or 6 chops, I could have parted it. Typically khukri's have a partial tang, which is burned into the wooden handle and glued in with pitch. I can tell you, that at 60+ years old, this blade was hungry for chopping, with not a wiggle or shake.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Talkin' Strayin! (Aussie Slang, A through D)

So, some of you readers may have noticed a slight antipodean lilt to my writing's accent. It's not all con. I spell aluminium and colour weird, and you should wait till you hear me talk! I confuse people all over the world, with my mixed up spoken vernacular and messed up "vaguely "not from roun' here accent.... that said, I feel maybe I can add something to common understanding, and perhaps improve international relations by offering a quick overview of some of the more colourful idioms of common Australian conversation you might come across if you get stationed with some, or even just shoulder up to one of our innumerate backpackers at a bar somewhere cheap and dingy ...

Now, Australians are renowed for being fairly potty-mouthed, and I hope you're adult enough to handle rude word on the internet. if not, go check out the fun kids on 4Chan, but the key is that its all in good context (we hope).

First up: "Ozzies" vs "Aussies." It's pronounced like OZZY OSBOURNE, not HOUSE_EEEEE or AHHHWWW-SEEEE

I'm going to cover some simpler terms and phrases that may confuse and conflate your communications, then explain and use them in context.

Agro: aggravated (abbreviated). "Hey don't get all agro with me mate, not my fault you didn't pack wet weather gear."
Arvo: afternoon (abbreviated). "Hey Cheer up rain should clear by tomorrow arvo!"
Average: sub-standard. Poor performance. Sarcasm. "Thanks mate, the forecast has been pretty average this whole trip."
Bags: to call claim on, like dibbs. "Chicken's here. Bags the drumsticks!"
Battler: an underdog struggling on regardless. "Get a load of these poor battlers. Cold, wet, miserable, and not a Nintendo DS amongst them."
Boff: to have casual sex. "So there we were in the middle of the storm, just battling on, then these two just boffed right there on the pool table, lights out for miles around."
Bottl-o: abbreviation of Bottle-shop, a Liquor store. "Let's swing past the bottle-o on the way and grab some beers for the party, mate."
Bogan: a uncouth and uncultured ruffian (from Boggan, a kind of troll/gnome). "Man, the bottle-o was full of bogans, huffing paint."
Bloody: an verbal amplifier. "That wasn't just a good concert mate, it was bloody brilliant!"
Bloody brilliant: very good. "So there we were in the middle of the storm, just battling on, then these two just boffed right there on the pool table, lights out for miles around. It was bloody brilliant!"
Barbie: a BBQ grill (charcoal or gas), or the act of cooking at one at a party. "Bloody brilliant barbie, mate. We're just gonna swing past the bottle-o for some more beers."
Bastard: a person who is unliked or unlikable. They may also be a dear friend or no relation at all. May also be an insult to someone being a prick. "Look at all these bastards, trying to merge into the off-ramp. Some poor bastard must have had a bingle up ahead in all the rain. And there's this bastard. Leaning out to take pictures on his bloody phone...get yer head in, ya' soppy cunt."
Bunnings Sausage sizzle: Bunnings, a big hardware/lumber chain, puts on sausage BBQs for local charities. For a "gold coin" ($1/$2) you can get a sausage, and sauce on a slice of buttered white bread. Grilled onions and soft drinks extra. Makes a weekend hardware crafting run a dining experience. "After Davo's piss-up barbie on Friday night we had to swing past Bunnings to replace the busted lawn chairs. Sausage sizzle was lifesaving hangover cure, mate."
Bludge: to be lazy and skate or shirk work or effort. Often in relation to the unemployed. "That bludger say he can't work because of his back but I saw him playing footy." It's a serious insult to call someone a bludger, suggesting they're shirking duty or leaving others to do the work, which is rather in-Australian.
Barrack: to support or cheer for a side. To "root" has a different meaning to Aussies. "I started off barracking for the Bulldogs like my dad but they're crap so I switched to the Mighty Magpies. They're doing bloody brilliant this season."
Cobber: a guy, a dude, a fella. "That cobber is a true blue battler. Right as rain he is."
Chuck: to vomit. "After the piss-up at Tommo's I didn't think I'd ever eat again. I even chucked when we drove past the Bunnings Sausage Sizzle."
Chucking a na-na: - temper tantrum. From baNA-NA . "The Sergeant Major chucked a right na-na after his dog ran in front of the convoy. Squashed flat it was."
Chucking a wobbly: see chucking a na-na .
Chucking / hanging a U-ey: making a U-turn whilst driving. No drifting or bootlegger turns required, but sound effects welcome.
Dag: the matted faecal matter hanging from the back of a sheep. A mild jibe to indicate someone is bit lame or uncool. Suitable for schoolteachers to address wayward kids. Equivalent to Huckleberry or dingleberry. "Take those off, you big dag. Who wears sunglasses inside at night?"
Cunt: derisive insult. Nowhere near as taboo a term in Australian culture as in American. It's still not nice conversation, but not a deadly insult either. "Sure, my dad's a bit of a cunt, but at least he's not a bloody bludger like yours."
Dart: a cigarette. Often hand rolled. "Chuck us a dart mate, I'm off for a smoko."
Dobbing: telling on someone; finking/tattling/ratting on. For personal gain. Viewed with much contempt. "It was a total bludge job mate, right until those dobbers from level seven chucked a wobbly."
Dead set: True, dependable, fixed or sturdy, decided or final. "If you're dead set on crossing the Nullarbor in that junk heap, you might want to chat to Ol' one-eye Joe, first. Fella is a dead-set legend in these parts, mate."
Don't come the raw prawn with me: don't try to fool me in an area I'm experienced in. "I need the carburetor for a 1968 Holden Commodore. Don't come the raw prawn with me, mate, that one's for a 1972 Ford Fairlane".
Democracy sausages: voting in Australia is compulsory. To help reduce the sting of having to waste perfectly good Saturday mornings, it's traditional for polling stations to also host a sausage sizzle and bake sale on election day. "I don't care which of the bastards wins, I got me my Democracy sausage so I'm good for four years."
Dog and bone: telephone. Rhyming slang. "One of those bastards from level seven on the dog and bone again, dobbing on the bludgers from section three. AGAIN. AVERAGE."
Donger: A penis. "She threw him the can, but it was wet from the Esky, right? So I slipped it and it got him right on the donger, pinned him to the chair it did, thought he mighta spewed right there at the table."
Drongo: a mild insult, equivalent to a dumbass.
Durry: a cigarette. abbreviated from Dunhill. "give us a fuckin' Durry, ya cunt"
Dry as a dead dingos donger: thirsty. Dingos (the semi-native wild dog) which die of dehydration, often get baked into hairy jerky by the unforgiving Australian sun. "Pass me a beer, mate, this one's as dry as a dead dingo's donger."


And for your further education here is some of the above in play, by contemporary real Australian comedians: Neel Kolhatkar and the Aussie Man....

australia is not racist ..
aussie compliments
aussie insults
australia in 2x minutes
australian media
more australia in 2 minutes

aussie man reviews
aussie man reviews uncovered


(Stay tuned for F-N and M-Z)

Monday, February 27, 2017

Brain Injury and the Apocalypse Eqipped

So, I haven't been posting much recently, mostly due to medical problems i've had. here's the breakdown; Health update: i'm doing really well, recovering my faculties and abilities at a good pace....

as first seen on Breach Bang & Clear. thanks to he guys for sticking by me!

I woke around 4am on 21/11/2016, thirsty, unsurprising as I had run the Tough Mudder the day before that (my fifth time), and been out in the heat that day,  and whilst I had studiously hydrated before, during and after, I had also had a rather heated hero's welcome before hitting the pillow that that evening. Choking on my bed-side water, my partner Lorin woke up, and took my bottle away. I objected  somewhat incoherently. That was a warning sign. Lorin was immediately worried, and asked me to smile, and raise my hands and I didn't do too well. She called my other partner Omega in and I flubbed the "raise your hands and smile" test" for her too. They suspected I was having a stroke and called an ambulance. I was collected shortly afterwards and zipped off to the local hospital. I managed to request pants so had some Thai fisherman pants on for the simulation of dignity.

They apparently sedated me, or I passed out, because I woke up the next day (I think) to find that I had indeed had a stroke, determined by an MRI and CT scans that I had no memory of.

It turns out I had had a middle cerebral arterial  rupture, and blockage, caused by a 3cm clot (that a surgeon removed via CT-guided Angioplasty). They did the procedure through my femoral artery, which left a bit of a hole in my thigh. The clot had caused a infarct (blockage) and subsequent rupture  (dissection) of my middle cerebral artery.  This in turn lead to a frontal lobe oedema and mild mass effect, sparing the motor cortex.

I was also put on a heavy regime of "clotbuster" drugs, and on oxygen for a day or so... It was noted that I had left-side Hemiplagia (partial paralysis) and dysarthria (slurred speech).

When my surgeon came to check on me I managed to give them my name and date of birth (something I was asked often) and raise hands and feet on my own which I was able to do to his amazement. It turns out that I had been very lucky in the timing of my medical attention. an hour so later and the clot-buster drugs  may not have had the useful effect, and the surgery mightn't have been performed by Mechanical thrombectomy using a MERCI Retriever L5. its a roto-rooter for blood clots!

Removal of the clot may be attempted in those where it occurs within a large blood vessel and may be an option for those who either are not eligible for or do not improve with intravenous thrombolytics. Significant complications occur in about 7%

The clot-buster meds brought up all my post-Tough Mudder bruises something fierce. The nursing and other medical staff were all horrified by it, but believed me when I told them I wasn't an underground pit fighter or something. They also grilled me about my lifestyle, and took lots of bloods. I have a pretty good diet, my cholesterol levels are well in the green, I'm fit, strong and active.  To my recollection , I sustained no head injuries on the Tough Mudder course. Stroke cause; stress and exertions.

I barely drink, have never smoked, or partake in recreational drugs. Apparently "really fit 40 year-olds" and older, overweight smokers are who they usually see. I'm apparently in the first category.

I was partially paralysed for a little while, but hardly remember that, but was frequently examined and tested wiht the 'squeeze my fingers and "lift your feet' tests as well as the more tedious "whats your name?" and "date of birth?" and "do you know where you are?", "what happened to you?" and "what day it is?" tests. Given the nature of my condition, and the unknown amount of brain damage I sustained by both the lack-of-blood to the brain, and the squeezing effect of a cerebral bleed.

They put me on a whole week of strict bed-rest. I was listed a "falls risk" and hey put a "getting up alarm" in my bed. great idea, but there was NO way I was going to get up and risk falling and smashing my brain. This meant a few things: If i moved too much in bed, a buzzer would sound, 24/7 and shortly after a Stroke Unit Nurse would how up an check that I wasn't making a run for it.  They would also ask the "whats your name, where are you and what day is it?" so I generally tried to stay still.  A side effect of this is that I was put on an additional regime of intra-abdominal klexane injections 

to stave off  further clots from inactivity. These caused a lurid pattern of bruises on my belly! like paintball welts, without the fame, glory or fun.

Another aspect of this was that when i needed to pee, as I wasn't catheterized (thankfully) was that I needed to pee into a pee-bottle such as the one to the left modeled by Lorin. A lifetime of of "don't wet the bed or pee in your wetsuit" reflexes had to be overcome. Speaking of, I also had to learn to use a bed-pan, for pooping in, which Lorin also helped me out with, with the wiping.
Again, Dignity. It has to wait sometimes.

I had another round of CT scans, and they determined that I wasn't in much risk of further brain bleeds, and could stand some standing, so they got me up and out of bed, under some serious supervision. After proving I could stand and move from foot to foot, and balance on each foot without falling over, I was cleared to use the wheelchair to go to the bathroom on my own. I wheeled myself there, moved from chair to toilet on my own, and managed to use the facilities all on my own.

Classically, a stroke is when poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. They result in part of the brain not functioning properly.[1] Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, feeling like the world is spinning, or loss of vision to one side.[2][3] Signs and symptoms often appear soon after the stroke has occurred.
If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke.[3]
 A hemorrhagic stroke may also be associated with a severe headache.[3] The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long-term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control. I was fortunate not to acquire the headaches. I had weakness in my hands and a bit wobbly, and some slack in my face that made me slur a little, but I appeared not to have lost any of my faculties.  I was cautiously walking by the third week in hospital, and able to not only go the bathroom by my self but also bathe, with the use of a shower-chair by myself, though  I had very enjoyable supervision from Lorin... who also washed my hair and reminded me to scrub my pits and brush my teeth!

It was in the Second week of my stay that I was taken off 'mushy-food and thick liquids. I had been seen as a choking risk, and no-one want's aspiration pneumonia from inhaling hospital mush. The xanthan gum thickened water and juice were strange, and most people would find it off-putting, but I remembered similar drinks at Houston Space Center, growing up.  Astronaut drinks for me! I was spared too much hospital pap by my loving, supportive family, who took food orders, and snuck me in BBQ ribs, burgers and even Nando's picknic's  to the formally-frowning and informally pleased nods of the nursing staff. Even though, I was ravenous. AND ate both my hospital meals AND whatever extra snacks came my way. And even on bed-rest for three weeks I infact LOST 15-20 kg. Brain injury recovery is hungry business, yo. All totally normal. Being on bed-rest also meant I was getting  intra-abdominal klexane injection is my belly at lunchtime every day. Not overly painful , but bruised me and made me ache.

So, one of the most worrying parts in all of this was the question of 'just how damaged WAS my brain going to be?" Early on we determined that I had -most- of my brain function still. My fine motor skills were a touch laggy, but my memory, both short and long term seemed to be fine, as was speach, and cognition. Whilst bed-ridden,  I was able and very happy to recieve and build a bunch of LEGO sets that I was brought in by Lorin and Omega at
first, and then by other people who came in, having heard I was taking visitors and building LEGO. Not only was it a blast from childhood, but also good for fine motor skills, cognition but also spatial awareness. One thing it alerted my eagle -eyed Occupational Therapists to was a thing they call "perseveration" where when faced with a "wrong-but-close" situation such as "brick in wrong spot" I now have a tendancy to just keep doing the wrong thing, in the hope it will just come good. This same effect has made me mis-type passwords till I lock accounts too. Now I am aware of it, I can be on the look out for this behavior and apply 'if at first you don't succeed" logic to the problem. Omega and Lorin are on the watch for it so, so I don't keep bumping into wall like a broken robot for hours ...

After the first two weeks, and a re-checking of my brain via a trip in the magic CT-donut, I was shipped of to a rehab hospital, via an amusing "patient transfer ambulance ride" in a wheelchair van. My new accommodation was not nearly as nice as my private room in the stroke ward as I was sharing a bunch of other dudes, who snored and argued with the nursing staff about their meds at all hours.  I was also still getting my "obs" done every couple of hours, blood pressure, pulse and "name, DOB and where are you?" neuro checks. 

Being at the rehab hospital also meant trips to the gym, for supervised physiotherapy. This consisted of time on the elliptical machine to warm up, then a 3kg dumbell routine, and ankle weights routine. They also had me do a balance course, on parallel bars, with uneven ground underneath whilst balancing tennis balls on my hands. It turns out that having a stroke hasn't magically improved my balance any but my reflexes sem to be ok still.

The Neuro-psychology team got their hands on me, pre-dicharge and ran an extensive set of IQ tests and the like on me to see how much damage to my brain meats had been done when the clot and burst artery starved me of bloodflow. I was curious how they would assess my "before incident" ability, but apparently the tests were sophisticated enough to give a baseline. Of the seven areas being assessed: General intellectual ability, general knowledge and verbal abstract reasoning, non-verbal fluid reasoning, constructional problem solving, spatial planing and arithmetical reasoning.  I had been baselined as "likely superior" in all areas "before" at the time of assessment was found to be "average" in most and falling withing the "low average range"in arithmetical reasoning.

So, it seems that at the time of assessment i've had some damage, and don't math so well. I'll be re-assessed as part of my "return to work preparation" and the hope is that in the meantime, my brain will be-self-repairing and i'll recover a lot of my "superior status" in time. I've been doing more LEGO, to build up my spatial planning and fine manual dexterity and problem solving skills sets.

In addition to neurological impairment, hemorrhagic strokes usually cause specific symptoms (for instance, subarachnoid hemorrhage classically causes a severe headache known as a thunderclap headache). I've been very lucky in that I haven't shown any evidence of ongoing headaches. It's a warning sign that we're all keeping a close eye on through.

I have a regime of facial strengthening exercises my "face-ups" to do to even out the slight lag i had developed on the left hand side of my face and a set of rehab-therapy visits with the Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy teams.to continually re-assess my recovery. All seems to be going pretty well.   

My Drivers-licence was suspended pending medical clearance and re-testing, standard procedure for people who have have strokes, which is pretty annoying, but i agree it's better for the community.

I had a steady stream of visitors throughout my stay. Friends, family, lovers, neighbors and old friends all came to see if I was OK, all-there and to cheer me up. It made a world of difference, especially with the question "will I pop a vessel and drop dead at any moment?" ringing loudly between my ears. Tactical Baby and Triceratops Girl were really pleased to see me, and not distressed, just concerned for me. I'm really grateful for all the visitors, and love I was shown, not to mention the mound of LEGO that kept hands and mind busy.

The Occupational therapists also gave me their own kind of test too, and supervised me cooking  meal in the in-ward kitchen.

I did some scrounging in true Apocalypse mode style and dug out a couple of cans of beans, ketchup some onions, spices and even a bag of bacon from the back of the freezer.  The OT's weren't thrilled about me sharpening  all the kitchen knives, but sharpen them I did. (A sharp knife is a safe knife). and I made a pretty passable chili. 
More flavour than I'd managed to ingest in a while and I didn't set myself or the kitchen ablaze, or cut anything but onions and bacon!

Now being more or less fully mobile, I was off the daily injections, which was grand, but also meant that I was put on a more pill-based regime. So, now, daily, I take this collection of pills to: regulate my blood pressure (too high = popping), thin my blood (reducing clotting), reduce cholesterol buildup (clogs for clots to plug up on) and an acid-reflux-reducer to help me with the other pills.

I was also on some anti-hiccup medication for a while too, when suck in the bed, and I had hiccups pretty bad for the first week. Didn't help me rest or sleep, but at least I didn't have any broken bones to contend with. I was also put on  melatonin briefly as I had trouble sleeping in a busy room, full of snoring old dudes. The aggravated ranting at nurses doing meds and obs by my fellow inpatient didn't help much either, nor did my internal worry that I might have another stroke and not wake up.

How does this all relate to being Apocalypse Equipped?? Well, what hit home for me was that if it could happen to ME, it could happen to ANYBODY and were it not for rapid and advanced medical treatment, I'd have died or been crippled. Here's some statistics... via WIKI

When I arrived at Hospital, I was in my pajamas, unconscious. all I had with me as far as GEAR goes were my necklaces.

That said, I have a few gems on my necklace, to keep me from feeling too naked. Airport security LOVE ME.
 What I had with me was: Tritium marlin spike  titanium WTF wrench-and-pry-tool and my SAR moon-glow / reflective disk. And top that off with my charms: a Mj√∂lnir.  My coyote and the brass arrowhead I wear for luck.  the rings are purely sentimental but the brass Omega reminds me I'm owned and cherished. I did feel, in the late of the night, when nurses bumped into my bed and woke me, that I was ill prepared.

At an early point in my stay, I put in a request for my EDC, and I got a pocket dump from home, and added a few more useful items to keep handy. Included in this was some paracord, my SAR Dead Ringer comb (because personal grooming is important). One of my titanium Fishbone Piranhas and a RaidOps TM-Joe made up some heft for my pocket, and a Gerber multitool added some more utility. some dental floss for good measure.

Thus equipped I rested easier, and once fully signed out, I headed home to recuperate further. I was released home into the care of Omega and Lorin, with a house-call visit from a community nurse to check up on me. We hired a shower-chair, so I could shower myself without worry of falling over.

The recovery process has been slow, and I am still wracked with fatigue, and find myself able to exert myself for only a few hours a day, before  I run out of steam and have to have a nap. This is normal, I've been told, but it's been a big adjustment for me to make.

Speaking of which, I've had some others as well. On top of some physical weakness from bedrest and lack of strenuous exercise I've been free of any other serious symptoms. A medically trivial problem that has arisen and been waived off by the various medical staff I've asked as "normal, expected and will auto-correct" was my sudden sexual performance issues. No joke, and rather distressing. Put it down to near-death stress. Still, worth mentioning. Thankfully, my partners have been very understanding, and good sports about it. Apparently, even in my diminished state I am still an adequate lover, even if I have completion issues. So there's some TMI for you all. I'm improving though, and still working at it!

Medically I am A-OK, and fully biologically functional. I have my regime of "don't have another stroke medications" to keep me going, and more appointments with the Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists and Neuro-psych team to monitor and steer my recovery.

So, to finish up this long and fairly auto-biographical piece which I'm not used to writing ... here are some useful some early recognition tips:

Early recognition was was got me he rapid medical attention that saved my life:

Various systems have been proposed to increase recognition of stroke. Different findings are able to predict the presence or absence of stroke to different degrees. Sudden-onset face weakness, arm drift (i.e., if a person, when asked to raise both arms, involuntarily lets one arm drift downward) and abnormal speech are the findings most likely to lead to the correct identification of a case of stroke increasing the likelihood by 5.5 when at least one of these is present). Similarly, when all three of these are absent, the likelihood of stroke is significantly decreased (– likelihood ratio of 0.39).[26] While these findings are not perfect for diagnosing stroke, the fact that they can be evaluated relatively rapidly and easily make them very valuable in the acute setting.

A mnemonic to remember the warning signs of stroke is FAST (facial droop, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call emergency services)

And Lastly, here's some more facts and figures. Lots of people have strokes, apparently, I don't feel lonely,  I  feel LUCKY. I'm lucky I live in  a country with excellent and affordable medical attention  (my Government recommended Private Health Insurance) covered the entirety of my $4300 9-day private room, and all medical therapies, The Ambulance Membership covered my pick-up and transit costs.

In 2013 approximately 6.9 million people had an ischemic stroke and 3.4 million people had a hemorrhagic stroke. In 2010 there were about 33 million people who had previously had a stroke and were still alive. Between 1990 and 2010 the number of strokes which occurred each year decreased by approximately 10% in the developed world and increased by 10% in the developing world. In 2013, stroke was the second most frequent cause of death after coronary artery disease, accounting for 6.4 million deaths (12% of the total). About 3.3 million deaths resulted from ischemic stroke while 3.2 million deaths resulted from hemorrhagic stroke. About half of people who have had a stroke live less than one year. Overall, two thirds of strokes occurred in those over 65 years old.
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