Reminiscence #9683

I just had one of those “Sherman! Set the Wayback Machine for…” moments.

When I was a kid growing up in Michigan, back in the 1950s, my best friend was Tom Sawyer.

No joke, Thomas Collins Sawyer Junior, or Tommy [“Big” Tom was my father’s university colleague, best friend, and former college roommate]. They lived catty corner behind us, with our yards joining at one corner.

In a post on another forum, I mentioned camping for over 50 years. After I had posted, I realized that was incorrect. Tommy and I started camping when we were probably six or seven years old… just out in the backyard, in crummy old sleeping bags, on a tarp, under the wonder of the stars. I’m 68 years old now, so that means I’ve been camping for over 60 years.

My, my, my. Same stars, but how the time does fly.



In the quaint, and mysterious manner of synchronicity, a friend posted this over on Tumblr shortly after I had read a passage in a novel on the idea that we do indeed write our own “auto”biography on a day-to-day basis… continually, automatically, and without any real writing taking place.

Our autobiography is the true story of our choices on a day by day, minute by minute basis. While we might influence our choices by our prejudices, thoughts and feelings, those choices make up our life. No matter how we rationalize and justify them, whether we make them in fear or in hope, in wisdom or in ignorance, Each one has its effect on subsequent choices. In his short poem “The Road Not Taken”, Robert Frost wrote, “…Two roads diverged in a wood…“. Two or more roads diverge from our path every moment. The path our footsteps take make all the difference.

Even not making a conscious choice is a choice unto itself… We have merely “gone with the flow”. The risk in that is that it is then all too easy to allow ourselves to blame our life situations on circumstance. No… we have still made the choice to just ride along. Even in a strong current you can direct your own course.

I am facing up to the fact that the next year will probably prove to be, at the very least, a new chapter in my autobiography. Heck, it may be a whole new volume. I will always be writing my own continuing autobiography and living my own life… I would at least like it to be interesting reading.

So, bearing in mind the old Chinese curse “May You Live In Interesting Times“, I sure hope I can make my next choices with judgment not justification, consideration not rationalization, and not out of fear.

Onward thru the fog….

Right Thoughts

Ten thousand things in heaven and earth
All should be fodder for the laboring mind.
Though others would like to understand,
This Way of Poetry is profound indeed!
Returning to simplicity, 
You ignore current happenings,
Shut your gate, getting through the year end.
I thought of you these past fall evenings,
Both of us facing the cold lamp, composing.

– Ch’i chi (864-937)

Think, but don’t overthink. Consider, but don’t judge. Remember, but don’t dwell.

Take the Eightfold Path…


I finally received the small axe that I had ordered off AliBaba in the 11/11 sale. As I had already concluded, it was not a Chinese POC [piece-of-crap] It was a Russian POC. After playing with both a Cyrillic keyboard and a Russian to English translator site, I managed to figure out that they had branded the blade “Campton Ax”… do you suppose they were trying for “camping”?

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I am not even going to go into detail about it until I have messed with the axe some, but after having “bashed” it a bit in my previous post, I wanted to go into some digressive info on just why I had gone ahead and bought one. For now you can check it out in the post from a week ago was about “Chinese Inscrutable Advertising“.

The site description on this axe was a wonderful example of the difficulty in translating/ transliterating between languages, and the misuse and overuse of catchwords. It was described it as “Damask” steel at one point, 440 Stainless at another, and high-carbon steel in a third. I guess the first instance is a misunderstanding of the word Damascus, which is used to describe both a type of  highly-figured and layered steel, and a historic manufacturing process. The other two phrases are frequently used in the descriptions on forums discussing high-quality knives… I guess they just seem catchy. Not accurate, but catchy.

In fact, the little axe I got is 65X13 steel. This is the Russian made equivalent of AUS8… not a bad steel for this use at all. On other sites offering the same axe I had been able to see the branding on the shank, so I was pretty sure what it was actually made of. This elevated it just out of the POC range and made me think it was good for a shot as a “project piece” to see if I could bring it all the way up to worthwhile.

My second reason, and the real basis of this post, is that I have always wanted an “Ulu”.


These are two examples. The ulu is the traditional knife of the Inuit peoples of the North American Arctic. Before the white man and his supplies of metal, they had knapped a similar shape in stone, and beaten them out of copper ores. It was their butchery tool for whale blubber and sealife.


The ulu is generally made of moderately thick sheet metal with a handle above the blade as you seen in the above photos. They cut smoothly, and are surprisingly maneuverable. I know a guy who regularly dresses out his deer with one.

Newer designs are moving toward a more modern esthetic, upgraded materials, and a truly ergonomic styling. They also are making the blades heavier and profiled more like a traditional hunting knife. Benchmade is producing a version they have named “Nestucca” that retails for $150US.

The beautiful units from Bliss [shown in first photo above] are made to order, and start from $130 depending on handle material. Those kind of prices put them way out of my reach, but the little Russian jobbie is as close to an ulu as the “Nestucca”, and was only about $11 on sale/shipped. That fits with my whole 90% utility for 50% of the price deal.

I’m hoping to end up with a fireside beater for wood prep and an alternative blade for use in the camp kitchen. I’ll let ya’ll know how the progress goes, and what the verdict might be some time soon.