Saturday, 26 February 2011

Hat's Off For The NorCal Cazadora!

A few of you have posted disparaging remarks about my choice of headgear. Only Holly has put her money where here mouth is and sent in a prospective replacement.

The Littlest Bushwacker "It's cool"

Ex Mrs SBW "Looks, er, like it'll keep you warm"

The Northern Monkey picked up the hat, assessed the size and asked
"Did she measure your head or does she just know you? Most people don't make 'em this big"

Your pal
The Suburban Bushwacker

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Timewasters - For Fox Sake

In London we love to build hooj vanity skyscrapers, the next one is called the Shard, it's supposed to look like a piece of broken glass, yeah. We also have the most hilarious attachment to the disneyfication of animals, even mangy foxes that live off dropped takeaways. 

A fox has been found living on the job site that's the Shard, so instead of  ignoring it until it made its own way home, the chaps saw the chance to loaf around for a couple of hours and chat to the pretty girl the newspapers sent to cover the story. So they gave the fox the name Romeo (the papers are hardly going to send Lucinda Posh-Bit down for a nameless fox are they?) and called the council, who despite having better things to spend our money on sent Les Leonard, pest control manager at Southwark Council to spend the afternoon fooling about catching the fox.

The work-shyness doesn't end there! One Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling at Southwark Council, felt he had nothing better to do with the time we pay him for and chipped in "Romeo has certainly been on a bit of a jaunt, and proved rather elusive, but I'm glad our pest control officers were able to help out. He's obviously a resourceful little chap, but I'm sure he's glad the adventure is over and hopefully he'll steer well clear of skyscrapers in the future."


Preparedness: NYC

My connection to recent events in New Zealand has moved preparedness to front-of-mind, instead of actually doing something to be prepared, I thought I'd take a look at a time when I was in a city that suddenly switched off and see what if any lessons could be learned.

A while back I was visiting the New York office of an English company while writing my long lost book "The Ankle Swingers of Rat-dog Land". It was getting towards the end of the afternoon. Stifling an air conditioning inspired yawn I ventured down 39 floors to the lobby in search of sugary snacks and coffee. But instead received a lesson in preparedness, and the publics response to surprise.

Thursday, August 14, 2003, at approximately 4:11 p.m

The First Signs
There were slowly increasing numbers of people standing around, checking their crackberries, and just standing, where only moments before the torrent of worker ants was relentless it was now suddenly momentum-less. I went back to the lift [elevator] where the doors were half open and a woman was about to get in, she turned to me and chirpily asked "wanna take a chance?". I don't know about you but I've been led astray my glamourous older girls before, but this time the doors didn't look like they'd ever close so I bowed-out.

The Assumptions
Meanwhile back in the lobby: the startled stop had been replaced by a belligerence that was taking its toll on the building's security staff. The chick behind the desk looked more frightened than the public.  She was using the words "we'll let you know as soon as we know" as an ever shorter stick to push back the tide of  ever more belligerent requests for information. One of her colleagues spoke to the group so Securi-chick and I got into conversation.
SBW: So I guess, no one is telling you anything and everyone is asking you for everything?
"I just don't trust them terrorists!" she confided in a note of rising panic. I have to admit I had to stifle a laugh. Surely that is the point of terrorism? But telling her that would have been counter productive. I'm an optimist by nature and optimism can be just as contagious as fear, the idea 'it's too early to tell' seemed to cheer her up. Looking out over the sheeple she agreed that panicking wasn't going to help, and I left her, good nature restored, confidently directing people to stay calm.

On the walk home I stopped off to chat with the Dry-Cleaning Guy, as usual a font of wisdom. I told him about the panic mongers working themselves into a frenzy certain of a terrorist attack. He responded with this wonderful ambiguity

"Bullshit! That's the first thing that comes out of their mouths"
He went on to sight a principle that I'm a big believer in. Offering this more likely speculation  'It'll be a blown relay in Canada"

Evil happens occasionally, incompetence is happening right now.

As we'll see in part 2 even in the worst of situations, incompetence is far more likely to get you than anything else. For the meantime I'll leave you with this sobering thought:

'Preparedness' is a process not an event

Its also a catch-all term for people from the heavily armed nut job of popular imagination to the just plain prudent - who have a water container, a first aid kit and some batteries to hand. Just because you don't feel the need for a foil-lined hat doesn't mean you wont feel the need for some batteries and a drink of water. It's worth mentioning that there aren't enough batteries or torches in the supply chain between factories and shops at any one time for everyone who needs them to buy them once the situation has started.

Just sayin'!

more soon
your pal

PS The art work is by the amazing  Christop Niemann

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

True Grit A Review By Roald Dahl And SBW

I've neither the time, or anyone to go with, so I've not been to the pictures to see the Cohen Bros version but yesterday I read Charles Portis' True Grit from cover to cover. I was going to tell you how amazing a piece of writing it is, but that's like a street dog recommending fine dining. Here's a review from someone who really really knows great storytelling

"True Grit is the best novel to come my way for a very long time. What book has given me greater pleasure in the last five years? Or in the last twenty? What a writer."
Roald Dahl

David Petzal liked it too, and being yer 'republican gun nut' by nature my guess is he has at least a passing interest in the genre

"The film, in which John Wayne played himself and got an Oscar for it, was a sort of comedy with gunfire, and had little to do with the novel, which was grim, sad, and filled with gallows humor."
He likes the new movie too

While the 'republican' thing means something very different where I come from, I'm not averse to a bit of gun nut-ism myself

The excellent Internet Movie Firearms Database has this nugget for film and firearm nerds to chip in to after dinner conversation.

"Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) carries her father's Colt Dragoon, as is described in Portis' book. The gun used in the film is an actual percussion Dragoon, while the 1969 film used a cartridge-converted Colt Walker. It can be surmised that the Walker was used due to its even more imposing size in contrast to Mattie's small stature. But the adherence to the source material in this version is much appreciated."

I actually paid the full £7.99 cover price, and consider it a bargain.

More news as I make it up, more views as I raise the funds for more kit

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

What Is It About Fly Fishing?

Really what is it? The sight of buds on the trees, the slight shift in air temperature, the sudden realisation that although it's still light the days works are over. A recurring thought rises, like a trout to a fly, 'I must get my fly gear together, and a boat, we need a boat'.

Now as regular readers will no doubt have noticed I only fish for free, wild fish caught in wild places as nature intended. Due to the rampant over crowding of a small island sometimes those wild places are hidden between discarded shopping trolleys and dumped stolen mopeds. But as in all things, we must learn to seek out the simple comforts that nature offers. What is hidden suddenly reveals itself, the elusive wonder of nature poking its head out from between the debris of urban degradation.

So the great dichotomy of the fly continues, the simple life of simple unadorned pleasures, pursued with the aid of kit and equipment that are often stunning examples of the machinists craft, and jaw-droppingly expensive. See:

Some go to church and think about fishing, others go fishing and think about God.
- Tony Blake

Scholars have long known that fishing eventually turns men into philosophers. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to buy decent tackle on a philosopher's salary.
- Patrick F. McManus

If we carry purism to it's logical conclusion, to do it right you'd have to live naked in a cave, hit your trout on the head with rocks, and eat them raw. But, so as not to violate another essential element of the fly-fishing tradition, the rocks would have to be quarried in England and cost $300 each.
- John Gierach


All this kit reviewing is getting in the way of buying food so I'm delighted to tell you that this post is supported by which in my book makes them very very nice people. If you're in Canada and have a boat it's now mandatory to have a ticket to show you're taking the whole health and safety thing seriously, conveniently you can now take your Boating licence online, so you don't have to take a day off from working like a dog to afford that new reel!

See you out there, I'm the one in the silly VERY COOL hat

Your pal

New Zealand Earthquake and Mrs BoB

I don't know if you've seen this mornings news but an earthquake has hit New Zealand's south island.
Power is out, sanitation is out, the domestic gas supply is unsafe, water is out, and at least 65 people are reported dead, hundreds are trapped and the city is in turmoil. BoB (Brother of bushwacker) lives pretty close to the epicentre in the south islands capital Christchurch.  BoB, Mrs BoB and the small BoB's are safe.

I just wanted to tell you how proud of Mrs BoB I am, she was right in the middle of the city and being properly trained in First Aid was one of the first people on the scene and rescued several people from one of the crushed buses.

On a lighter note MoB (our mum) called to tell me that BoB was already in the garden setting up a trap to collect rainwater and I quote

"He's like Ray feckin' Mears that brother"

Thanks for reading
PS If you'd like to leave a message for them in the comments - I'm sure they'd be delighted to hear from you - just sayin' 'sall.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

How to Buy an Outdoor Knife By George

"Made with infinite care by our most expert old craftsmen, 
and 'actually made far better than is necessary.” 

It is a well known fact [ a favorite Herter-ism ] that 'How to Buy an Outdoor Knife' is one of the most searched for tips amongst outdoorsman, bloggers, gear junkies and kit tarts. With nearly every outdoor commentator or writer chipping in their opinion - usually with a view to selling you one, and that legend of outdoor self promotion, and mail order sales, George Herter was no exception. He dished out all kinds of advice over the years, usually in the 'self published' vein. All delivered in a writing style best described as 'Barking'. Classic stuff.

How to Buy an Outdoor Knife by George Leonard Herter

An outdoor knife must be made for service--not show. Your life may depend on it. Real outdoor people realize that so-called sportsmen or outdoor knives have long been made for sale, not for use. The movies and television show their characters wearing fancy sheath knives. Knife makers advertised them and drugstore outdoorsmen bought them. Nothing marks a man to be a tenderfoot more than these showy useless knives.

Here are some of the duties a true woodsman knife must perform:

1. The knife must stay sharp for long periods of time without sharpening. The steel should combine the best characteristics of electric furnace quality high carbon 1095 steel and high carbon 440 B stainless steel. The blade hardness, known among steel experts as 56 Rockwell C, should not be affected by atmospheric moisture, salt spray, fruit acids or blood. It should withstand extreme temperatures without becoming brittle, no matter how cold it may be. A good steel knife blade will "blue" or darken itself with use, making it pratically rustproof. If knife blade steel is really good, it will cut through nails without bending over the edge.

SBW 56 Rockwell is a bit soft if you're wanting a knife that 'must stay sharp for long periods of time without sharpening'.  440 isn't that good by today's standards

2. The knife must be shaped so it is ideal for cleaning and skinning game of all kinds, from rabbits to moose. The best shape for this is the improved Bowie.

SBW Apparently you had to have one of these to be a "real" outdoorsman. Other knives were just for novices and often as not “like they were made by indifferent schoolgirls.”

3. The knife must have a handle long enough so that it fits a man's hand so pressure can be put on the blade when desired. On nearly all outdoor knives the handles are much too short. The handle of the knife must be made to last a lifetime. Leather handles rot and mildew, stag handles crack, plastic handles crack and are highly flammable. African mineral-type woods are best, and they will stand all kinds of weather for a lifetime and more. 

SBW I guess plastics have moved on a bit

4. The blade of the knife must not be hollow ground. Hollow grinding weakens a blade so that the edge will bend or break under heavy usage. A wedge edge is the strongest and most durable ever designed. 

SBW No George that would be the convex edge. More metal behind the cutting edge init.

5. The blade of the knife must be hand forged in order to give the steel maximum strength and hardness.

SBW I guess steels have moved on a bit too

6. The blade of the knife must not have a blood groove. A blood groove is strictly advertising and badly weakens the blade. Professional butchers do not use them.

SBW I make you right.

7. The knife must be easy to carry and light in weight. The blade length must be 4 inches long. Four inches is the length established for a woodsman knife by over 200 years of experience. Blades shorter are all right for Boy Scouts, but not for serious woodsmen, Longer than 4 inches is unnecessary and adds weight. 

SBW apart from the one you're selling eh George!

8. The knife should have no hilt as it only adds weight. If the knife blade is properly designed, that is slightly indented, you cannot cut your finger no matter how hard you thrust. You need only thrust in a hand to hand combat with a man or a wounded animal. 

SBW But it's ok if the fight doesn't work out, because as george has reasured us

"Most people don't realize that being eaten by a hyena doesn't hurt very much".
From The Truth About Hunting in Today's Africa (1963)

9. The knife must be capable of slicing bacon and cutting bread. It must be a comfortable knife for eating and cutting cooked meat.

SBW If you've run out of cash for new knives, not to worry Mr Herter also published
“Milking Scorpions Brings You $150 or More a Week.” Please post a video of your attempts!

More soonish

Monday, 14 February 2011

Aim Low

Bored and tired SBW entered the 'Silly Pictures' period of his blog in early 2011, results have been 'mixed' to say the least.