Thursday, December 20, 2012

BADGR Broken Links fixed

Hi all, I've gone through the entire blog and fixed up the broken image links. All should be working now. Not sure WTF happened, some of my photos are hosted remotely, and the URL for those pics changed. Carry on.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Regarding the Sandy Hook School Massacre...

I felt compelled to write something about this. As a dad with little girls who are almost at age to be in elementary school, words cannot describe the feelings of sorrow, despair, and hatred as a result of the actions of a low-life scumbag who's name shall never be mentioned.  Before I became a dad, the news wouldn't of affected me the way they do now. Even now, days after the massacre, that lump in my throat, the welling up of tears in my eyes, as I visualize my own girls in that unthinkable situation.

(AP Photo/David Goldman)
Now, as I write this, there is much public discourse about effectiveness of gun control, mental health resources. There's calls for assault weapons bans more gun control. There's calls for more money thrown at mental health. The thing is, we live in a time where crazy people exist; whether they are terrorists, homegrown extremists, or just plain crazy.

I submit that no amount of debate, legislation, or money thrown at gun control or mental health will deter the determined crazies from exacting their brand of fucked up shit on civilians. Just like nobody, can ever predict an earthquake, I really don't think anybody can predict a crazy person going into a school and murdering 20+ people. In terms of stopping it, God Bless the LEOs who's active shooter training kicked and went in without SWAT. They probably saved the lives of countless more kids and teachers. However, LEO's are not posted at every school, and response times vary from region to region.

Sure regions can post LEO's or security at every school, but this is just not financially sustainable. Nor, is it exactly an environment conducive to learning for kidlets. What can and should be done, are failure drills. Drills that are ingrained at every level, from the Principal down to the Student. Failure drills are just what they sound like. Drills that happen when there is a failure or compromise of a secure and safe environment for learning. Whether its an unknown person roaming through the halls, or unknown smell emanating from unknown source, or weird smoke coming from a westerly, these are all candidates for failure drills. And it need not be rocket science.

Much like earthquake drills teach duck and cover, failure drills for students can be the same simplicity, such as lock and hide. There are numerous ways to lock a door, with all sorts of devices on the market. Hiding behind a barrier would help. For the Principal and the teachers, it is incumbent on them to secure the windows and doors as soon as there is an alarm.

Terrifying as it is, the reality of what could happen if these types of mitigation aren't actioned, would be worse.

I've sidestepped the whole gun control debate, mainly because guns are not the problem. Crazy fucked up people are. I admit, I'm not read up on crazy fucked up people issues. All I know is that, if fucked up crazy lowlifes do unspeakable things, they deserve to burn in hell - but not before they spend some time in a room with a bunch of bad ass dads with steel toe boots and a concrete curb.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

BAD Gear: Lowa Desert Zephyr TF (Taskforce) Goretex Boots

I've been running the Lowa Desert Zephyr Goretex boots for a few years now. At least one year domestic field ops including some leave-time deer hunting, and over two year overseas in both dry and super wet monsoon season. I bought mine with 30% off from at a total of $134 USD. I think this is one of the best pairs of boots I have ever worn. Lowa is world renowned for hiking and mountaineering shoes and they don't disappoint.

I've worn various combat boots in my military career, and various combinations of hiking and combat boots in my contracting/consulting postings. Of all the shoes I've tried (Asolos, Danners, Merrels, Garmonts, Columbias), these Lowas are my favourite. There is no break-in period at all. Just run and gun. These boots are no different than the civilian version of the Lowa Zephyrs one can buy from REI. They are meant to be hiking style, more than a combat boot style. The only differences are the monotone colours, and the goretex lining.  One of the things that attracted me to this boot, is that I can still be incognito at the park walking the dog, or walking the kids, or being walked by the kids. Its a great multi-purpose boot. 
The lightweight multi-function boot is made with PU Monowrap technology for surefooted stability. Designed to breathe in hot, dry climates, it features split leather and Cordura uppers and quick-drying Goretex lining. The cushioning and fit inside is fantastic. The first thing I noticed was that if fit like a pair of high-tops (Hipster translation: kicks).
It features Lowa's cross sole unit with 3/4 length shank for stability. For the goretex lining, Lowa uses a proprietary lasted method for a smooth and seamless waterproof lining which reduces hot spots, promotes a better fit and fewer blisters. Feet stay dry and comfortably warm even in extremely cold and wet conditions. This I know first hand from waiting in my hide during the freezing and wet deer hunts in October. I liked that it kept my feet dry (granted I also have a great sock system), and the bottom soles had lots of grip in the kind of terrain. 

The kind of weather my boots shined in can be seen in this video (monsoon season in Africa). It rains like this from March to July, then again from September to about November. Then its Dry season. This boot truly covers it all. The moisture-wicking lining enabled me to not only stay dry during this wet season, but also maintained moisture-wicking ability during the dry season. 

This other video shows during hunting season, walking through flooded fields. Instead of uncomfortable galoshes that don't take my custom orthotics well, nor keeps me warm, nor offer support on rocky terrain, I use these boots. As you can see I don't worry about getting wet. The only thing I do need to be concerned with is the depth of these fields. I oped to buy the mid-length boots, but there  is the full length combat-length. I don't need that anymore, as I don't blouse my trousers. As long as water does not ingress from over the top of the boot, you're golden.

One of the things I don't like about this boot, is that it is super super slippery on ice and snow. Its not meant for that. Nor is it meant for wet polished concrete. Try running in a parking garage with these boots on after a rain storm. Wear a helmet. It also is slippery on algae covered rocks. Or shit covered pavement, as is often the case in the places I work.

But for fieldwork, mountainous areas, hunting, mounted ops, dismounted patrols, hiking, standing around looking badass, picking up hotties, drinking scotch, smoking cigars, drinking scotch, looking like a goon in the airport, drinking scotch, doing push-ups  shooting people in the face, training to shoot people in the face, photo ops, looking for a Christmas tree to cut down for your BAKs, drinking scotch...this boot can do it all. When I said push-ups  I meant push-ups  Part of my PT drills is to do push-ups in full battle rattle. Part of my shooting drills is to also include push-ups and other forms of PT to simulate physical/mental stress. These boots have just the right amount of stiffness and malleability so the toes don't buckle during these exercises.

In terms of colour, it will pass parade inspection, sergeant major, uniform police as it is that desert colour. Here you can see the boot with my Arc'teryx LEAF combat jacket in Croc colour. The croc is a blend between Olive drab and desert, so if you wanted to do a linear regression analyses between the two, the boot would be closer to the desert colour.

A few other features I would like to point out: the speed laces. I don't have to tug on each section to tighten my boots (like your standard combat boots), I just need to yank on the top laces and everything else just tightens. I have seen some of my mates' boots where the top eyelets have gotten bunged up. Lowa replaced them easy peasy. But I've personally had no issues with them.

Another feature I would like to point out is that it's light, weighing in at 1.327lbs per boot. Now, that is quite light given the style and kind of boot, and it's intended purpose. Now, for sizing, its true to size. Size it like a sneaker. In fact, if you have the chance to visit a good hiking store, try before you buy.

In Asics I'm a 10, in Saucanys I'm in 10.5, in Asolo I'm a 9.5. In general I'm a 9.5 so I got a 9.5, and it fit. Mind you, I do have to put in custom orthotics. It is narrower, so if you have wide feet you may want to size up as I don't think they come in W. Also, if you intend to wear a sock system you may want to think about sizing up to accommodate the extra width.

I am now a Lowa evangelist, that is, anybody who asks me about hiking or mountaineering boots, I always direct them to try Lowa's first. That's not to say that Asolo isn't good, or Garmonts aren't good, or whatever, its just that at the price point, the fact that it is EU-made (DING DING DING DING), and with the Lowa Guarantee, there's no reason to look anywhere else first. Usually at the $140 price point, one is still hovering around the amateur market(stuff you can buy at Sportchek or Sportmart) and not considered a serious work boot. But this, this my bad ass friends, is a serious work boot. Granted it doesn't have a full length steel shank for shit kicking, but it can definitely kick down doors. I like Lowa so much that I bought my parents each a pair. BAF still likes her Garmonts as they are super stiff and provide support for her flat feet. But one day, one day, I will convert her. Isn't Christmas just around the corner?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

BAF Gear: The Butcher's Knife

So I don't know why, but people just looooove to have a tool for every single task. Peel an orange - oh wait there's an orange peeler for that, de-skin an apple - oh wait there's a paring knife for that, chopping green onions - let me get that santoku knife, let's carve that turkey - wait out for the carving knife, over.

You folks need to KEEP IT SIMPLE! I admit, I have 15 billion knives in the kitchen drawer and wood block; however, my most used knife is the venerable Butcher's knife. I believe wholeheartedly that every household, badass or hipster or everything in between, should have at least one butcher's knife. This one knife can very easily replace the entire knife block, plus almost alot of the kitchen utensils.

I use it to smash garlic, chop veggies, run after triad gang members, dice onions, balance ping pong balls, point at rude chinese lady and swear in loud cantonese, julienne ginger, brunoise jalapenos, alumnet carrots, slice through beautifully bbq'd pork, and of course chop through bone. So don't give me bullshit about needing a knife for every task. Hell I even use my knife to practice my tactical escape and evasion plan.

The Butcher's Knife is constructed differently that most other kitchen knives. It is made of a softer steel and thicker blade thus it keeps it straight edge and is resilient in that it can pretty much chop through thick meat, cartilage and even bone - repeatedly. It is, in fact, the only knife designed to be swung like a hammer. It doesn't need to be necessarily ultra shop like a paring knife, since it relies on momentum and "AIIIYAAA!!!" to get the job done. However, one can totally finesse it with artful grace - as you can see with the BBQ pork. Yeah I made that Char Siu from scratch. And Yes, I do wear Old Navy boxers for $5 each. yes I do cook in my boxers.

Three areas where it shines is firstly, the obvious ability to chop shit up, the second use is as a crusher. It can crush or smash garlic BLAM like that saving you the peeling process, thus creating efficiencies and streamlining workflows in your cooking workstream. And finally, you can use it as a spatula to scoop up your chopped up veggies and throw it into the wok, and if in my case, forgot to take out the cheese 30 minutes prior to consumption, you can take a heated butcher's knife to accomplish the task in a few short minutes.

In terms of care and maintenance, meh, I just wash it normally. I don't do much to sharpen it other than to run it across the bottom of a porcelain bowl, or knife stone. Once a year I take all my edged implements to house of knives to get sharpened, but that's about it. Keep it clean so that rust don't form. If you wanted to be all asian gang-like, you can get some hockey tape and wrap the handle for extra grippy. If you wanted to get tactical, you an always use skateboard tape.

I don't have a recommendation on a brand name of knife. The Chinese Butcher's knife that I use most often, I have had for over 15 years - the manufacturer is all but imperceptibly etched into the blade. Its a single piece construction and the blade is hard and is easily sharpened with the bottom of a porcelain bowl (chinese styles!!!). I've had one or two other butcher's knifes from name brand makers, but they never passed the "chop through bone" test. If your knife can easily chop up a bbq duck then you've got a good knife. However, if your knife's edge starts getting chips and cracks and shit from the bones being too hard for it, then somebody gave you a shitty knife for your wedding. In terms of cost, well, I have seen knives run from 10 to 50 bucks, I'd recommend getting something middle of the road. Perhaps walk by a chinese butcher shop and see what their using. I picked mine up in some kitchen supply store in Chinatown. Just follow the old ladies.

I challenge you to start using your butcher's knife more often, and forego your expensive Henckel 12 piece set for a month. Do it.


Full Disclosure: Unless noted, Bad Ass Dad has not been compensated in any means to review this gear. It is all his own, procured through pro-channels, retail, or issuance.