Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Modified Kobun

I've been looking for a fixed blade EDC and self defense knife for a while, especially after starting Pekiti-Tirsia Kali (that's another post).  I've tried out a few different knives, but I was pretty surprised at how much I liked the Cold Steel Kobun after ordering it from Amazon, especially because I only paid 35 bucks for it with tax and free shipping.  This is how it looks from the factory, measuring in at 0.1" below the legal limit for carry in Texas.

Anyways, being who I am, I couldn't just leave it alone, so I decided to make a few mods to the knife.  First off, the knife is very slim, and that's one of the reasons I liked it for a carry knife, but I still felt like I'd prefer something a little... extra in the handle.  The day that I got it in, the first thing I did was cord wrap the handle, to give it a little more thickness and improve my grip.

Here's how it looked after the wrap.

Right side:

Left side:

Right side:

I'd been thinking about how little I like the modern tanto shape with the very angular yokote on the kobun even before I purchased it.  I saw a few other posts where people had reprofiled modern tantos, ending up with something approaching a Rick Hinderer type spanto type point.  So with that inspiration I sat down with my whetstones and reprofiled the yokote.  Here's what I ended up with, and I think I like the profile a LOT more than the factory grind.

Even being careful while wiping off the filings, I lightly marred the finish, so I'll have to go over it with some high grit wet/dry sandpaper eventually, but in the meantime, it'll do just fine.

Let me know what you think


I'm working on my first kiridashi.  The blade material is an old file I purchased in a lot of 20 files on ebay.

I got a gift of firebricks from my friend a while back, and this is the first chance I've had to put them to use in my shop.  Prior to now, I've been using a Mapp gas Benzomatic torch for annealing and heat treating, which is far from optimal.  Using the firebricks, I put together a very simple forge (in the spirit of Wayne Goddard's one brick wonder).  Basically, I placed one brick flat, then used the sides of two bricks to form a chamber about 1", maybe 1 1/4" wide.  Then I laid another brick on top to hold them in place and form a roof, and set another brick down flat behind, with a last standing on its side to direct the hot gas flowing through out to the sides and up.

Just using the Benzomatic, it got hot FAST.

Here's how it looked during my heat soaks before annealing:

With torch on

Looking into the forge

The blade removed for photo-op

In that last, I removed the blade quickly and snapped a photo, and then put it back in the forge.  I'm really happy to be able to get a relatively large area heated to critical with just a benzomatic.  I've already purchased hoses and a burner for a more permanent setup, but haven't picked up a propane tank yet.  I'll also note... it doesn't look that pink in person, it's much more of a bright orange, something must be off using my cell phone camera.

After annealing, I really got into the zone with cutting out and profiling the blade, drilling holes for the eventual cord wrap, and cutting out the inside of the handle, and I didn't even think to take pictures of the process.  By the time I remembered, I was already in the heat soak for hardening (probably because I was reminded of taking the photos during the annealing process). Here's another photo of what it looked like:

Right after quenching in oil, this is the blade profile

Sorry for neglecting to include anything for scale.

Ok, so here's how it looked after polishing on my bench stone and up to 220 grit.  I left the majority of the blade at this low grit because I want it to have a "used" look.  I think I might play around with giving it a nice patina with mustard or vinegar.

Here's the blade polished and sharpened.  The secondary bevel was polished and sharpened to 2000 grit on wet or dry sandpaper on top of glass.

I cleaned the blade, and did a base wrap using black paracord sheath.  You can see here, during polishing, I left the file marks on a small visible portion of the blade's flat, just as a reminder of its origins.

After the base wrap, I played around with more paracord sheath, and ended up with the following pattern.

I'm not sure how much I like it, I may pull it off and do the crossing cords on every wrap, or something else entirely.

Here's the final blade

Let me know what you think!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Bad writing

As of yet, I haven't made significant effort to do my homework on the next batch of White House hopefuls.  In the last week or two, I've heard a few mentions of Herman Cain, but figured I'd wait until he either made a splash or dropped out before deciding whether to watch him.

I first heard about Mr. Cain after someone accused him of being a paid schill for the tea party, to which he responded "Well, they must be missing some payments!".  I decided to get a quick read on the guy after hearing two other sound bites, one in which Cain described his 999 plan, and another where he defended his statement that under Obama-care he'd have died during his bout with colon/liver cancer.

I went to Herman Cain's campaign site and paged through his "Issues", before checking out his 999 Plan page.  Now, I happen to think that the "Fair Tax" idea has quite a bit of merit, and deserved to be thoroughly discussed and considered.

I was very disappointed when I arrived at the 999 Plan description page.  I'm saving a copy of the page, so that I can see if they change it in the future, but it was so bad, I wrote them a letter urging them to shape it up.  Here is the letter in its entirety.

To the Herman Cain campaign,

I am very impressed with Herman Cain as a candidate and with the ideas on which he has built his political platform.

However, the Herman Cain website (especially the 999 plan page) lacks good organization and editing in the writing.  For Herman Cain to get the recognition that he will need to be successful in a bid for the presidency, his ideas, especially the trademark of his candidacy, must be clearly written, accessible, and detailed enough to be analyzed for their value.

I came to this website to learn about the 999 plan that Mr. Cain proposes, and determine if the plan has substance and merit.  I was very disheartened with what I found.

The entire page reads more as a collection of notes, or as an outline for a speech.  While an outline of the plan is helpful, without substance and organization it is little better than an ineffective cross between a speech outline and a snake-oil sales pitch.

I am left without a clear, detailed picture of what the 999 plan entails, and with little way to judge its value.  In addition to problems with page's overall organization and lack of vital content, the writing contains several grammatical errors and confusing, unclear sentences.

For example, in "Phase 2 - The Fair Tax":
"The Fair Tax makes our exported goods and services the most competitively internationally than any other tax system."

The idea is correct, but unclear.  It would read more clearly as "The Fair Tax will make US goods and services more internationally competitive than any alternative tax systems, including our current one."

The importance of a well organized and clear website can not be understated, and the quality of writing within is just as important to Mr. Cain's long-term success as his appearances and media exposure.  A candidate's website explains in further detail their stance on important issues and defines their platform, expanding and clarifying what is heard in sound bites.  This is the deciding factor for many voters.  In short, Mr. Cain's appearances and sound bites bring many voters here, where their support is won or lost.

Don't let this campaign be derailed by shoddy writing.

I offer my best wishes for the Cain candidacy.  Please accept my criticism, and use it as I intend, which is to aid in advancing Mr. Cain's chances as a Presidential candidate.


Eric Archer

I'm not sure why it bothered me so much to read through this plan.  I think its because there are a lot of good things that should be said about the plan, and the candidate, but the presentation of both leaves Mr. Cain looking unprepared, unprofessional, and unelectable.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

This could be a dangerous addiction...

Today, I got another chance to hit the pawn shop circuit.  While ostensibly looking for files and steel to use as knifemaking material, I found two more pawn shops with pretty good collections of weapons.  This is in addition to finding Bachman Gun and Pawn off of Northwest Highway in Dallas (I went last week after work).

Bachman Gun seemed like a good store, with a very good selection, but somewhat standoff-ish folks behind the counter.  But anyways, nothing here really caught my eye.  I'll be writing about 3 pistols, each of which is the first example that I've handled.  Coincidentally, each was also designed by John Moses Browning.

After finding Ella, taking her home, disassembling and cleaning her, I can't keep my eyes off of old pocket pistols.  At Miller's pawn, I finally got a chance to check out their collection.  A few weeks back, the first time I came by, I saw that their guns were all stored in a separate, caged in, locked area.  I asked if they had the area closed off at the time, and they mentioned that they would have it opened up again during the week.

This time, I asked if they just keep it closed off during the weekend.  The lady behind the counter surprised me, and said: "We don't let anyone back there unless they have a concealed handgun license".  Chuckling, I reached in my pocket, pulled out my wallet, and showed her mine.  I said "I've never heard of a policy like that before!"  She said that it helps them keep out the young punks that just want to play with the guns and act like idiots.  Apparently, normally, if they think they'll have a problem, they just ask what kind of gun someone is looking for, and then go in the back to pick one out.  Things to remember/consider if I ever really want to think about running a gun shop.

After she unlocked the door, she left me alone to browse in peace.  Now, let me tell you, it may have been a small space, but they packed it full of awesome.  Someone there has good taste.  I'm not going to focus on them, but for any gunnies in the Garland area, let me tell you, they are chock-full of great deals, beautiful guns, and great finds.  Two, side by side under a glass case, really caught my eye.

I didn't take any photos, but I wish I had.  The store has a "no cell phone use in store" policy (either the owner's feel that its rude, or they're type A control freaks... not that the two are mutually exclusive), so I didn't take any snapshots with my phone.

So, without pictures of my own, Find # 1 looked something like this:

A Colt 1903 Pocket, this particular gun had a nickel finish.  This was the first example of these guns that I've had the chance to handle (I need to start getting to gun shows... either that, or I need to stay away), but after delving into pocket pistols with Ella, I've been hoping to catch one in the wild.  Checking the serial number, this is a Type III pistol, manufactured in 1920 (almost like Ella's big sister).  The shop wanted $495, and checking with my blue book (guessing approximately 80-90% condition), taking into account the nickel finish, this seems to be a pretty decent asking price.  If this pistol stays around for a while, I might have to bring my wallet and go back for a chat to see just how low they'll go.

Find # 2, sitting right next to Find # 1, looked a little like this:

This beauty is a Browning 1955 in .380 ACP.  The 1955 model is an imported FN model 1910, with the Browning name, chambered in .380.  In a break from earlier designs, Colt wasn't interested in the model 1910, leaving FN to serve the European market with the model 1910 in .32 ACP, and neglecting American buyers.  This form of the pistol survived from 1955 until 1968, when the Gun Control Act of 1968 made importation of this pistol impossible to profitably import.

The example I saw has a very high serial number (possibly made in the very last runs in 1969?) of 644315.  By my guess (I'm not too practiced at appraisal yet), this gun was probably 70%, maybe 80%.  Like I said, I don't have a ton of experience with appraising condition.  The folks at the store were asking 395, which seems to be quite a bit higher than what the blue book would value this gun at ($250-275).  It's a good looking gun, but unless they could be talked down quite a bit, it wouldn't happen.

After oogling the pretty girls at Miller's, I headed up the street to Bob's Pawn.  I wasn't impressed with the folks here.  Again, these folks were stand-offish, rude, and seemed like they were in a big damn hurry to get me out of the store to close up (ten minutes before their closing, while I was handling a pistol).  Oh.  Also... they wanted 3 bucks and a quarter for a rusted over dull file.  I offered two bucks for it, because I wanted the steel for a knife.  My large mill file find from earlier in the day is in great shape (which I got for a buck), and is probably of more use to me in the shop as a file than as scrap steel.  Anyways, this thing was rusted out, pitted and useless.  And he wouldn't take the two.  I'm ok with a shop trying to make some money... but two bucks in the register for what is essentially a piece of brittle scrap... or a customer walking?  I'm not sure I get it.

Dissatisfaction with Bob's pawn aside, here's a picture of what Find # 3 looked like:

While technically, this could be considered another example of the FN 1910, I'm still counting it as a fresh example.  Basically, the FN model 1922  is an upsized 1910, designed to meet the request for increased grip length and magazine capacity, as well as for a longer barrel for the Yugoslavian military.  I'd guess the example I saw today was >90% condition, which leaves the stores price at $325 pretty reasonable.  Unfortunately, without photos of the gun, I don't have a way of identifying the gun's markings to identify its origins.  I'm pretty sure I didn't spot any WaA stamps, so I'm not thinking that this gun was made during the Nazi occupation of Belgium.  Regardless, this pistol felt great in the hand, and is absolutely beautiful.

Well, that's a wrap for finds that caught my eye on the pawn circuit.  I have to say, after handling these beautiful weapons, I have to wonder how a gun like this one can ever catch the eye.

Seeing the Glock version of a .380 pocket pistol next to any of these designs (Only one of which, at 89 years old, was designed in the last century... Its like trying to compare Roseanne Barr

with Catherine Zeta Jones. 

No, worse.  It's like comparing John Lithgow's nude scenes in Season 4 of Dexter (

with Zoe Saldana.

Form follows function, beauty is in the eye of the beholder... Yeah, sure.  However, the sad truth is, no matter which way you look at it, Gaston Glock may have been a great craftsman, but he is no artisan.  Like Mr. Glock, John M. Browning revolutionized firearms design (unlike Mr. Glock, over, and over, and over again), but he also did it while combining humble materials to transcend engineering and create works of art.

Oh.  And Zoe Saldana is HOT.  End of discussion.

Friday, September 23, 2011

What numbskull thought this was a good idea?

Apparently, a "Safe Place" is somewhere that black children (or midgets?) can expect to be fondled by big white guys.  Really?

What is the world coming to...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Some things never change...

I'm not sure why, but something got me going through old pictures today.  I figured it wouldn't hurt to post a few notable ones.  Normally, I'm not big into having a ton of pictures of myself, but looking through these does make me want to make sure I get a few more pictures with the folks I care about.

I have... no earthly idea... what was going on here.  I'm not even sure when exactly this was taken.  The photographer might be able to help me out, I know that it was taken in the house on Courtland Circle.  I think that makes me about 15, maybe 16?  I can't believe how scrawny I was!

I'm pretty glad my folks hung on to this one.  This was the end of summer right before my sophomore year of high school.  My parents signed me up for a whitewater rafting trip with the Air Force outdoor life (or some other such group at Cannon), and we spent a week in the Taos Box.  This was taken at Souse hole on our last ride through.

Starting my first year back at undergrad in Fall of 2005.  This was taken at the base of A mountain in Las Cruces.

I'm placing this here as a reminder for me.  Taken during a dance for the Stonewall Coalition (NMSU's gay-straight alliance), Valentine's day, 2006.  Ginnie passed away too young at 24, on Dec. 11, 2010.  I miss her.

Taken by ScreamingLight in 2007, this is my favorite picture of my ex and me.

Again, taken by ScreamingLight, the same day as the previous picture.  I miss Cruces more than I ever thought I could, and my other families.  I really wish I had more photos from my time there.

From the Unguez lab.  I cut my long hair right before heading to Belize for a week.  Botfly is disgusting.

Returning from a jaguar reserve in the jungles of Belize during a rainstorm.  We were taking turns cutting through a huge fallen tree with a machete and dragging the limbs off so we could clear the road and keep going.  Yay! for adventure.

Me and Knitwit heading to dinner at Texas de Brazil, 2010.  I picked that dress out... Go me.  Again, we definitely need more pictures together.

My first steps up to my house, the day I closed.

Sitting on the front porch.  New pup, new house, new life.

This one says it all...


Found here

Serendipitously (I really like getting to use that word...), I just sent out the emails to get the paperwork and protocol approval ball rolling so that I can start animal studies in my project.

Guaranteed to stop an assailant...

with bouts of hysterical laughter.

With another nod to Tam, I just had to comment on this poor, unfortunate, mistreated pistol.

Click for link to original picture

Somewhere, somehow... Someone thought this was a good idea.  Having recently purchased a Sig SP2022, I'm hoping that my new semi-auto carry pistol hasn't already been contaminated.

How the hell do you holster this thing?

Seeing this tumerous growth, all I could think was "All its missing is a bayonet AND a bipod".  Then, I realized, Sig had been generous enough to offer a bayonet (some assembly required), free with purchase of your DIY sidearm cancer

This converts a weapon with 5 basic user interfaces for use in shooting (slide, decocker, trigger, magazine release, slide stop), 6 if you count magazines, and ups the count by how many?  Light switch with two modes (light and strobe), which requires either multiple presses, or an additional setting on a slide switch (that can be bumped).  An activation button for the laser.  A holographic sight with multiple brightness settings?

I can see the usefulness of a weapon light.  I can see the usefulness of laser sights, especially when the activation is automatic (Crimson Trace).  But the benefits seem incredibly outweight by the added complexity of all these devices.  Along with mounting a sight that prevents the use of backup iron sights in case of dead batteries, electronics failure, glass breaking, etc...?

When I'm relying on a pistol, the last thing I need is to be fumbling with light switches, turning on my holographic sights to have a weapon I'm capable of properly aiming, and that I'm incapable of holstering in an accesible manner.

If you need all these devices on a weapon, you're already in some serious shit, and you need a long gun, so put them on your long gun (but make sure you have iron sight backups).  Leave your pistol alone... Of course, if you NEED all these devices, they're not gonna help anyways... You're the weapon, not your gun.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Identifying Mr. Schmidt (Rubin)

Ok, so, turns out I was right.  A quick rumble around the web let me figure out, I was looking at a Schmidt Rubin Model 1911 manufactured in 1917, proofed, inspected, and certified by a Major Mühlemann.

Kind of cool to be holding a weapon manufactured in a country surrounded by, but not a participant in, "The Great War".

Maybe I could make a little money on the side...

Wandering through pawn shops a while back, I stumbled across an interesting gun.  What stuck out immediately for me as it sat on the rack was a barrel shaped lug on the bolt handle.  It looked just like this picture shamelessly stolen from The Arms Room:

I hadn't actually seen a Schmidt Rubin in person until now, but I was fairly sure that I recognized the gun.  Several years back, before I bought my first centerfire rifle, the first gunsmith that I met (Emerson at Custom Cartridge in Las Cruces, NM, which is to this day my favorite gun store) had recommended this weapon if I'd like a cheaper shooter that was a tack driver.  I read up a little on the guns at the time, and haven't looked at them since.  For a better review than I could write, take a look at what Tam has to say.

I asked the guy behind the counter to let me take a closer look, and he pulled the gun off the rack and handed it over.  It looked like someone had sporterized the stock, and the forward hand guard was missing, leaving the barrel bare from receiver to muzzle.

I took a peek at the label for the gun, and noticed that they had it labeled as a Mauser, in .303.  Now... I'm sure that this isn't the biggest failure in gun identification I've ever seen (the media seems to have a talent for it), but labeling a Swiss rifle as a German Mauser, and claiming that it's chambered in a British caliber (that as far as I know, neither the Swiss or Germans ever really used), is definitely a step toward that direction.

I should have snapped a few more pictures, and maybe tried to get a better idea of what model of Schmidt Rubin I was looking at.  All I ended up taking photos of were the proof marks on the receiver, so that I could at some future date have a better idea of what I had in my hands.

They're asking $300 for it.  If I could get it for a century note, I might think about it.  I know that 7.5 X 55 Swiss has dropped a lot in price (comparitively) since I was first looking, but it's still not a Wal-mart caliber, so I'd have to figure that into the decision.

Anyways, maybe I could offer to identify and price their guns, either for a little cash, or in trade. Who knows?

One for the dumpster...

I took these shots a couple nights ago on my phone, I've been meaning to post them since.  This is another rusted dull 50c file I found in a pawn shop, that I hope I can breath some new life into and turn into a fixed blade carry knife for myself.  Unfortunately, this little puppy didn't turn out so well, and I'm going to have to put it down...

Being a file, the process starts with annealing.  This is simply heating the blade to orange (Which I'm not getting.  I need a better heat treat setup) and allowing it to cool slowly.  The slower it cools, the softer it will be.  The best setup I've used for this is a good size fire with lots of coals, and simply letting the blade sit in the coals as they burn away to ash.  Doing this, I've left a small fire to burn out, and come back the next day with the blade still too hot to touch under several layers of ash.  The ash makes an excellent insulator.

Unfortunately, I don't have a place set up to do this kind of burn.  I might just see about converting my small charcoal grill, or one bought in a pawn shop, and dedicate it for this purpose.

What I'm using here is a Mapp gas Benzomatic torch, and I'm simply getting a bright red heat, and walking it from one end of the file to the other slowly. 
 I needed to turn off the lights to get a good look at the color.  This isn't even close to the actual color, for some reason, my phone camera turns this VERY pink.
 After annealing, I used a hacksaw to cut the blade to length.  I used an awl to scratch my profile into the file (now a knife blank), and centerpunched holes before drilling the handle.  Next, I used the disk on my belt sander, to rough out the profile, and the belt to grind in the concave curves of the handle and finger choil.

Not pictured here (my hands were filthy, and I didn't want to try and wash them to take a picture), after this point I used the disc sander and belt to grind the primary bevel, a basic V grind.  I left a dime's thickness of material along the whole edge, and made sure that the grind was even on both sides, and proceeded to the heat treat step after I was satisfied with the grind lines.

I heat treated by eye (I don't have the equipment to give the blade a good soak, so I brought the blade section up to dull red heat and tried to keep it there for about 5 minutes using my torch.  Then I quenched in canola oil (I need to get some used motor oil and a big bucket).  After the quench, I checked to see if I'd adequately hardened using a little Nicholson file I picked up for a quarter during the same pawn shop runs.  The file didn't bite in deep, but it sure didn't skip off the edge either.  After a minute or two, I decided to try to bring the blade back up to heat, and see if it would quench well in water.

 Big mistake... This closer view of the blade lets you see that I didn't grind off the file cuts on the flat, I thought they'd look nice.  However, you should also notice that there's a pretty large crack running almost all the way from the edge to the blade flat.
 Here you can see the cracks a little better.  Looking at the blade edge on, I could see serious warping.  From the side (I couldn't get a picture), you can see light through the bigger crack.  A smaller crack, only visible on this side, is about two thirds of the way up the blade.

So, this little knife is on its way to the dumpster.  Either that, or I'll hang it over my water bucket with a "DON'T QUENCH HERE" sign.

Either way, it's back to the pawn shop to look for good blade material.  Maybe I can find some lawnmower blades or more old rusted over mill files.  But, before I get started on my next project, I think it'll do me some good to also try to pick up or build a decent setup for heat treatments.  And to find a magnet on a stick.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Then you know you've just gotta jump too!

Tam has up a funny post, and I figured I'd jump in on the action.

Top is my old, beat up Spyderco Endura (left pocket).  Several years back, I snapped the tip off while whittling a hole through a piece of lumber.  Spyderco changed the tip design on their Enduras in later models, because of just this problem.

After buying a new carry knife, I modified this one by reshaping the tip, grinding from the back of the blade with a wet wheel until I'd produced a wharncliffe-esque profile.  While I was at it, I ground down through the thumb hole to make a makeshift Emerson wave opener.  Normally, I'm carrying my new Endura wave in my left pocket, but I pulled it out to use it last week, and just slipped this one back in in its place.  Surprisingly, this thumb hole opener works better than the production wave device as both a bottle opener AND as a rapid opening device.  I'm still wary about the strength of the blade after decreasing the width, but I still use this knife all the time.

The bottom (right pocket) is my Cold Steel Lawman.  Dad gave me this one over Christmas last year.  It's very different from my usual every day carry knife, I usually don't like the thumb stud openers, but this one doesn't seem to give me much trouble.  I've kept this knife mostly unused (and untested... I need to get another that I can test to destruction), but I've wanted to maintain the factory edge geometry and use this for my "flesh knife".

Well, there they are... what's in my pockets right now.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Some days...

It's 10:40.  PM.  I've been at work since 7:30.  AM.  Some days just don't go quite how you'd wish.

I've got journal club tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning (I haven't read the paper... luckily, it's only 5 pages of a nature letter).  More fun, I'm presenting lab meeting tomorrow.  Amazingly, I realized that my last presentation was April 26, so it's been almost 5 months...

I thought I'd have nothing new to show, considering that the last two months or so have involved reading papers, repeating the same damn dose response experiment to try and determine the response range of my protein to its ligand, and waiting for nameless collaborator to get me more animals to work on.  I told him before the end of the fiscal year that we needed to order mice then... he waited until after the purchasing freeze.  Now that we have mice (and have since last tuesday), every day there's been some excuse or another as to why the animals weren't properly pre-treated, or why we couldn't do the experiment that day.  And then, I also found out... he hasn't even told his PI that we're doing the experiments!  So I get to have a happy meeting with my PI, him, and his PI, to discuss what we need to do as far as animal work goes.  Yay.

Ok, bitching about collaborator done.  I think I'll just have to have a talk with the boss-man about arranging for a new animal work partner.

Anyways, I was actually surprised to see how much I've done since my last lab meeting.  It doesn't help that I've had 5 months...  But I actually have quite a bit of new data... for once, I have more data than I know how to present adequately!

The really frustrating part about today though, after nameless collaborator telling me he's sick today, so no animal work (really, that's my last time bitching about him...), was finding out that all of the point mutants that I thought I generated last week were, in fact, wild type.  So, not point mutants.  Not really mutants at all.

I've spent today trying a new protocol, but made the dumb mistake of plating my first batch of transformed cells onto the wrong antibiotic plates.  Figuring, at 8 PM, that I should just re-transform (I really want these point-mutants), I went ahead and started the transformation over again.  Now, right before I sat down to write this, I had completely finished everything, and was opening the incubator... as my grip slipped, and I dropped my stack of six plates (of the SECOND time doing this transformation tonight on the ground, spilling lids everywhere, sticking my gloved thumb into the middle of one agar plate.

Some days... I wonder why I leave my desk to work on the bench.

Ok... pity fest over.  Off to read journal club paper (yay for the HIV!), and then back early tomorrow to work on lab meeting presentation.

Now, off to rescue lonely puppy!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Establishing a baseline

I've been told several times since last night that I'm supposed to weigh myself first thing in the morning, rather than at night.  Also... that I should be naked.

Not being one to miss a chance to show off my birthday suit, I jumped on the scale first thing this morning.  In the buff.

235 lbs.  Not quite so bad as 245.  I can account for 6 of those pounds difference (my clothes, knife, keys, phone, etc...) because I checked again after getting dressed (241 lbs).  So, I'm not sure how to compare to my earlier weigh-in at the doctor's office, so I'll set 235 lbs as my baseline.  I really wish I'd done this 3 weeks ago... it would have been nice to see that I've made a difference, even if it was just a little bit.

Anyways, that's what I'm at right now.  Let's see where exercise and trying to eat better gets me.  I'm not concerned so much about the weight, but I'd like to feel "fit" again.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Disappointment and a shave

Made the trek to big-box store and got a scale.  Took off the shoes, holstered LCR, and jumped on to see the bad news.  I'm weighing in at 245.  Wonderful.

In other news, I got the materials for my kilt.  I'm going off the plans from instructables, so I picked up 4 yards of medium brown denim, some good looking snap closures, scissors, thread, etc...  Hopefully, I still remember how to use a sewing machine, but the project might be on hold until I can find a pedal for the one I'm borrowing.

When I got home, I decided to put a quick edge on Itty bitty whittler.  It wasn't shave sharp... the hairs jumped off my arm!  Just to show myself I could... I shaved with it.  Holy crap.  Rusted out old file, to shave sharp with a couple hours work.  Awesome!

Pounds, pressure, and kilts

So here's the deal.

At the end of July, while moving into the new house, I hurt my back. Nothing too serious, some cyclobenzaprine and naproxen along with a healthy dose of sitting on my ass, and in a few weeks its pretty much back to normal.

The importance of this event isn't in my getting hurt, but rather, that it gave me plenty of time and reason to think about how out of shape I've gotten.

Back in high school I was pretty physically active, between riding my bike everywhere (the time before wheels), weight-lifting and phys-ed classes, Karate, and soccer. Up until I started graduate school, I kept physically demanding jobs, working at UPS as a box handler, climbing windmills working for GE, and working at the Clovis fire department. While in college, I still rode my bike regularly, trained in Judo, and spent a lot of time working outdoors on landscaping and gardening.

Then... I started grad school. I've said a lot of bad things about being a grad student (Scientists have found that graduate school is the cure for having friends), but a lot of my problems with being in grad school are my own fault, or just the result of bad choices. One of the things that has happened, is that for the last three years (really? three years?), I have rarely exercised. I've refused to live close to the school, because its in a bad neighborhood, and on the campus itself, I'm only typically in lab. Living so far from the school, I haven't even had a bike for the last 3 years. A few times per day, I need to go up or down stairs, but usually its 5 or 6 floors, so I find myself taking the elevator rather than bothering climbing the stairs myself.

I haven't taken any sports or martial arts classes, partially because this university doesn't have any courses other than scientific/medical related, and partially because I haven't dedicated the time to get off campus at night to work out.

With three years of inactivity, it shouldn't have surprised me that I put on some weight. When I went to student health to have my back checked, I weighed in at 243 pounds. That's 25 pounds heavier than I thought I was, and 50 pounds heavier than I was at my most fit (working for UPS at 19). Even imagining that somehow, I've thickened up or put on extra muscle... I'm downright tubby.  243 pounds!

Weight aside, what really scared me was seeing my blood pressure at 140/98. Being 27 years old, and with a family history of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart disease, those numbers scared me quite a bit. Since then, I purchased a BP cuff to monitor myself at home, to see whether the high BP was a trend, or as I suspect now, because I was in pain while at the doc's office. From what I can tell, I typically run between 105-120/60-75. All of these were done at night, sitting down for at least 5 minutes, not near a meal. I should test morning and during the day as well, but I can't bring myself to drag the BP cuff to work every day.

Between these two things, my increase in weight, and my BP scare, I decided that it was finally time to get off my ass and work out. The problem is, I'm not big into exercising for exercise sake. I can't stand working out in the gym. The closest I come to enjoying being in the gym is climbing on a rock wall, or being in the dojo. I don't feel like I have the time to dedicate to a martial arts class (and I keep finding myself busy on Tuesday nights when my fellow Nidan labmate works out), so I figured that I should find something that I enjoy doing, and try to stick with it.

Enter: the bicycle. As I mentioned, through high school and college, I rode my bike constantly as cheap and fun transportation. I've never ridden just for the work-out, but I figured that I enjoy it enough to see whether I can stick with it. So, I headed to the big box store, got a bike, helmet, lights, etc..., and went for a ride the next day.

When you decide after three years of inactivity, that you are tired of feeling old, fat, and out of shape... riding a bike for an hour makes you feel old, fat, and out of shape.

I've been waking up early to bike at 6:00AM since August 23. I've missed several days, but I've been trying to go for an hour per day, every day. From 6 miles at first (yeah, I know... slow), to 10 this morning, I've made a little bit of progress. I'm still trying to figure out how to properly set up my bike (luckily, my next door neighbor was a competitive cyclist for 30 years... so I might have some good help if I asked).

Along with riding, I've been working to healthify my diet. It hurts to say that... I've always hated health food and the health food mentality. The correlation between health food nuttiness and snobby/I'm better than you attitudes in others just puts me off. However, I think at this point, I'm just hurting myself if I don't take more care with my diet.

I've been eating a lot of yogurt lately (I really like the stuff), with granola (typically, I can't stand it, but it works well with the spoiled milk). I'll be trying to phase out red meat for more chicken (stupid, tasty cows!). I'll be working to snack on more nuts (unsalted) and fruit, and trying to take in more leafy greens.

I don't know if I'm gonna be able to take all the health food. I like red meat. With fat on it. I like sweets. And cream. And real butter. And bacon. Baaacoooon...

So, if anyone has good food ideas, especially replacements for the savory goodness of red meat and bacon, post me a comment!

So... I got the BP cuff. I'm eating better. I'm exercising. I haven't mentioned whether or not I'm actually losing any weight, because I don't have a scale. I guess I'll see about updating when I have an idea as to whether or not I'm actually burning off my extra tubby.

Reinforcement, either negative (hey, you're still a tubby bitch) or positive (good job, looking good), is greatly appreciated.

In other news... I might be working on one of these: