Archive for the ‘knife’ Category

I’m finally switching pocketknives, from an old Colt to a brand new CRKT M21-14. Courtesy of my cousin who got it for me for Christmas. In return for a sharp pointy metal thing, I got him the same: a Black diamond express ice screw. For our ice climbing adventures. For the last few years, I’ve taken to wearing my Leatherman Wave on my hip at all times. But sometimes I’m just in the mood to carry a straight-up knife. And this is quite a knife.

My sister in law got me a book for Christmas entitled “501 things to do if your dare, dangerous hobbies for fearless people” by Ben Malisow. I immediately started looking through the book and checking things off. I will now share almost all of my dangerous things I’ve done. Only a few are slightly on the wrong side of the legal line, so I won’t be mentioning those specifically.

After having written this post, it turned into something much more than I thought it would. Enjoy all the little tidbits from my life. I’ll be adding more as time goes on.

  1. Ride a roller coaster—I know I’ve done this a few times. Not a huge fan. I don’t like trusting my life to a carny. Not that I’m afraid of heights mind you. It’s just that when I hanging from something 300 ft. in the air, I’d rather it be from a rock wall with my own two hands, not a hastily bolted-together fair ride.
  2. Drive the Autoban—My wife’s Opa wanted to go to Germany to attend his friends 86th birthday party so he asked her. Her Oma said, “You don’t want to be driving an old man all around all by yourself, maybe one of your friends can go too. And if he can’t afford it, we’ll pay for him.” Needless to say it was an unforgettable trip. I drove a six-speed diesel Renault Scenic. Top speed: 189 km/h or roughly 120 miles/hour
  3. Ride a motorcycle— I babysat my buddy’s 1986 Honda Interceptor while he was in Nepal. I couldn’t just let it sit in my garage all summer, could I?
  4. Crash a vehicle— Valentine’s Day 2003, I flipped my Tacoma on the highway when I crossed an icy bridge. The rear wheels slid out to the left and I tried to steer out of it. I didn’t want to slam on the breaks and go spinning out of control. I realized that I was heading towards the guardrail so I did a little mental checklist before I hit: Seatbelt? Check, Airbag? Check. OK God here I come. Check. I hit the rail at 65 miles an hour and the truck flipped over onto its roof and slid one hundred feet before coming to a rest in the snow bank. The air pressure blew out the back window so snow flew everywhere. I ducked instinctively when I felt the vehicle flip and it was a good thing I did. When it came to rest, the ceiling was only three inches from my fingers on the steering wheel. I heard the tires still spinning and realized that the techno CD I was listening to had stopped playing. Since I was an EMT, I knew the dangers of neck injuries and other trauma. I cautiously wiggled my fingers and toes before I moved my neck. I hunched my shoulders and took a deep breath to see if any ribs were broken. (This is all while I was upside down) Then I unclipped my seat belt and flipped/ crawled over to the passenger side which wasn’t as crushed. The airbag never went off. My Mom bought me an emergency hammer that can cut seatbelts and break glass. I stowed it under the driver’s seat, but because everything had flipped over and snow was everywhere, I couldn’t find it. I pulled out my Leatherman and tried to break the window. I slammed the point of the pliers into the glass repeatedly but it wouldn’t break! Since the CD stopped playing, I assumed power was out, but struck by a sudden thought, I tried the button for the window. Whirrrrrr. It rolled open and I crawled out…right into the arms of my coworker who was a certified first responder! But get this. It was her day off. She just happened to be passing moments after my truck slid to a stop. I also knew a few of the EMTs that arrived minutes later. How many injuries did I receive? None. Does God exist? Yes.
  5. Drive in a foreign country— Autoban. See #2
  6. Go over a waterfall— All the time, whitewater kayaking
  7. Go offroading— In my old Toyota Tacoma before #4 happened. I had a 4 inch lift kit on it with 34 inch mud tires. It had the TRD offroad racing package with stiffer shocks and a rear locking differential. In a word: Awesome.
  8. Go bodysurfing in the ocean— Cape Cod and Acapolco
  9. Swim against the current of a river— Salmon river
  10. Go snorkeling—I got to snorkel the Great Barrier reef. It was cool. No wait, it was cold! I went in the summer, their winter, so the water was 53 degrees. I didn’t see the amazing wildlife one expects from all the nature programs. Jamaica was better.
  11. Go barefoot in a wintery setting— My brother and I would have barefoot, no shirt, snowball fights all the time.
  12. Ride a BMX bike— My friend had this sweet flatland trick bike with the front and back pegs and the 360 degree swivel handlebars. We would practice for hours out in front of his house. There was also a great place to ride up behind K-Mart with dunes, berms, jumps, and pits.
  13. Learn to scuba dive— Jamaica. One class in the morning, then a dive that afternoon. We only went down thirty feet, but it was great. I had trouble equalizing the pressure going down, so I had a bloody nose when we came back up. Still fun though. And one of those skills that is useful to know, just in case.
  14. Get punched in the face, at least once— Mosh pit at an Earth Crisis show at Hungry Charlie’s in 1997. Fat lip, black eye, and broken nose.
  15. Learn a martial art— Karazenpo Go Shinjutsu
  16. Fight someone obviously far more skilled than you— When sparring blackbelts when you are just a whitebelt, you tend to get hit a lot.
  17. Luge— I was on the junior development team for the US Olympic team. I lived in the Olympic training center in Lake Placid and competed in the Empire State games and the National Championships.
  18. Street luge— How I got discovered for the Olympic program. They went to cities across the states and set up a street luge course in hilly city parks. Then they would watch kids navigate the haybales and invite the most promising ones up to Lake Placid in the winter for more study. I made the cut from more than 800 kids to just 6.
  19. Launch an arrow using a bow— I learned to shoot at an early age and have always prided myself on my skill with a bow. At one point, I could hit an apple at 50 yards.
  20. Pilot a kayak— Again, I whitewater kayak a ton. We also went sea kayaking up in Bar Harbor for our honeymoon.
  21. Sail a small (less than 3 person) boat— Once in Cape Cod, this older couple let me sail their small gaff-rigged boat around the bay while they were in town. Swallows and Amazons forever!
  22. Go deep sea fishing— We went as part of the festivities for my cousin’s wedding in San Diego. Pretty fun but I didn’t catch anything.
  23. Learn to throw a bladed tool of some kind— Knives, hatchets, shuriken, ninja spikes…I’ve thrown it all.
  24. Throw a spear/ javelin— I got quite into this while reading about the otters in Mossflower.
  25. Walk on stilts— My cousin went to circus camp and his dad is very handy so he made stilts for them. I’m comfortable on them and have pretty good balance.
  26. Crack a bullwhip— When I was in Australia, I learned several different ways. The traditional “Indiana Jones” way and a cool around the head and back down again way.
  27. Swing on a rope from one place to another— I’ve done many ropes courses.
  28. Fire a rifle— We went to a quarry and shot cans.
  29. Fire a shotgun at trap clays— Same place. It was OK but I didn’t like the kick. I prefer blades.
  30. Play racquetball— Ahhh racquetball. I ran a Rec Center for four years with my office only ten feet away from a racquetball court. So yeah, I’ve played a bit of racquetball.
  31. Skip rope— Not as panzy as it sounds. It’s a killer workout.
  32. Raft a whitewater river— The Lehigh in PA and the Black in NY.
  33. Throw a boomerang— The one I got from Down Under works very well.
  34. Play football— Only as friends getting together for a pick-up game. But if we’re talking about Futbol, well then yes. For years and years.
  35. Rollerskate— Many birthday parties and few dates a roller rinks.
  36. Participate in building a human pyramid— Always the bottom row.
  37. Engage in a hearty round of dodgeball— Gym class in the early eighties.
  38. Play paintball— This will tell you alot about yourself. Are you the type of person who will charge out into the open, guns blazing? Or cower in fear until the round is over? Or sneak around and snipe people before they even see you coming. Mwuah ha ha ha!
  39. Make a public presentation of some sort— Besides public speaking class? A few for work.
  40. Write a letter of protest— Anti-deforestation
  41. Run from the cops— OK, technically I was doing nothing wrong. I was just hanging out with some friends who were drinking beers up in the woods during high school. (I don’t drink) When the fuzz showed up, I just melted back into the underbrush, under my camouflage cloak. I ended up leading several people out of the woods and back to civilization. It’s pretty hilarious leading drunk people through the woods at night.
  42. Wear an article of clothing that will offend the sensibilities of the majority of the people you encounter— a kilt.
  43. Tell a lie— Not my proudest moment, but we’ve all done it.
  44. Attend a rave— Techno thumpin’ sweaty dancin’ goodness
  45. Try to save someones life— I was a member of a volunteer ambulance corps for six years.
  46. Participate in a scavenger hunt— A multi-city, multi-day, multi-state bonanza of awesome.
  47. Sit in the front row of a rock concert— I was in the 7th row for Ozzie, but I’ve been crushed against the stage at enough Hardcore shows that I figure that counts.
  48. Jump into a mosh pit—refer to #14. Plus many, many other shows. One time I knocked my friend out by accident. He just happened to be standing behind me when I did a roundhouse kick. He caught it straight to the face/side of the head and dropped instantly. Just like every show, people reached down and helped him to his feet, but he was a bit wobbly for a while.
  49. Attend a punk concert— Yeah, I like Hardcore better though.
  50. Lick a flagpole in winter—Well technically it was a metal laundry pole, but same difference.
  51. Attend a family reunion— Not as scary as people say.
  52. Attend a high school reunion— It’s funny how much people stay the same.
  53. Attend a high school reunion and stay sober—Since I don’t drink, this was an easy one for me.
  54. Provide first aid to an accident victim— Many times while I was riding with the ambulance.
  55. Challenge an opponent to a competitive 2 player video game— I usually lose.
  56. Reproduce— Yup. Andrew is cool, but a lot of work.
  57. Be present during human reproduction (birth, not conception)— Bloody, but very exciting. An truly wonderful experience to go through with your spouse.
  58. Introduce yourself to a stranger— Who hasn’t?
  59. Introduce yourself to a stranger while traveling— Again, pretty commonplace while traveling.
  60. Hitchhike— A misty day in the Orkney Islands
  61. Pick up a hitchhiker— A few times. Seldom as scary as people fear.
  62. Shave using a straight razor— Ah yes. I love this. Definitely a shave worth concentrating on. Shaving has become somewhat of a hobby so you can read more about it here:
  63. Radically change your appearance— From blond hair to green. And a big bone through the nose.
  64. Babysit— Doesn’t pay enough for the hassle.
  65. Survive a stabbing— besides when my brother stabbed me here (which you can read all about), I buried a Swiss Army knife in my calf too.
  66. Survive a snakebite— A California Kingsnake, among others.
  67. Attend a Greek festivity— The food is so good!
  68. Apply for a job for which you have no inherent or learned skills, talent, or disposition— From HR to machine shop.
  69. Quit your job— For a better job, or just to go bumming around Britain.
  70. Quit your job without having another lined up— This summer. It was just time to go.
  71. Fire someone— He was coming in late, embezzling money, and his crack habit had started back up.
  72. Buy a house— We love our house, even though it’s a lot of work, and even more money.
  73. Buy a car— After the accident in #4, I got a brand new WRX.
  74. Buy a used car— My first one was free. That lasted two months. Then an ’86 Ford Bronco 2 for $650 which was fun for about a year before it crapped out. The first time I came over to pickup my girlfriend, she was getting in the car so I opened the passenger door. She thought I was being sweet but in fact, the Driver’s door wouldn’t open, so it was the only way in! Then when we were on the highway and I turned on the AC for the first time, bees flew out of the air vents! They were dead, but still.
  75. Work in a freelance capacity for more than a month— After quitting my job, I worked as a ropes course instructor for a few months before I got a real job again.
  76. Attend a live auction— It was a house with bidding starting at a dollar. I thought, “Why not?” Too bad the first bid was $10,000. Guess I’m not bidding on this one.
  77. Negotiate a contract— You negotiate a contract every time you buy something.
  78. Haggle with a vendor at an open air market— In the main market in Mexico City, and in Tasco, Mexico.
  79. Invest in the stock market— I lost $10,000 when the Market fell, but now it’s doing pretty well.
  80. Vote for a candidate who has no possible way of winning whatsoever— Ralph Nader. Enough said.
  81. Write a book— I’ve written one novel and am working on two more. I have yet to get the first one published, but I’ve received four rejection letters so far from agents, so I’m on my way. The first Chapter of Downfall is here. My next one is here.
  82. Participate in improvisational comedy— Once in Australia and once on our honeymoon. Very fun, both times.
  83. Audition for a play— Yes, in high school. The back story is that I played soccer. I was the captain of the Junior Varsity team my freshmen year. I played all game long, every game. I loved it. I did so well that I was moved up to Varsity the next year…where I sat the bench. Oh, I worked my but off in practice, but when it came down to it, I was on the sidelines. So, the next year when a bunch of Seniors were leaving and I knew my coach would need me, I said no thanks, I think I’ll do drama this fall. And I played a drunk choir director in “Our Town” and I was awesome.
  84. Act in a play in public— I also had the Tile role in “Bye Bye Birdie” my Senior year. I even cut my dreadlocks for the role, in favor of an Elvis hairdo. It was a lot of fun and I even got to star in several musical numbers.
  85. Dance in public— I guess mosh pits aren’t included. But our wedding dance went very well. And #84.
  86. Sing in public— Besides “Singing” in Paladin (my Hardcore band) I’ve sang and played guitar in church tons of times. But maybe the most memorable time was when I was on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. I went to a Highland Ceilidh (an gathering of music and song). They asked if anyone had any song they wanted to share and I stood up and got on stage. Then I sang a hauntingly beautiful night visiting song from the Highlands. They liked it so much I got a free CD!
  87. Cut a record— My band recorded a demo tape and sold it for two dollars each. Oddly enough, I still get requests for it today, more than ten years later!
  88. Paint a full-sized painting on canvas— Bob Ross got me. It looks so easy! Just paint the happy little trees. What’s so hard about that? Yeah… His mountains look realistic and mine looks like a slab of molding monkey poop. But it’s still hanging in my Dining room for some reason.
  89. Participate in a television broadcast— I was interviewed on the Today Show when I was on the Luge Team.
  90. Get pierced through your nipple— I was bored, I wanted to impress a girl, so…     Eventually I had to do both because of symmetry.
  91. Attend an artistic display performed entirely by children— Many school plays and concerts.
  92. Make your own clothing— A poofy renaissance shirt, a kilt, a wool and wolf-skin viking cloak, and some jeans.
  93. Demolish a structure— When I worked at camp I had to tear down this addition to a trailer. Sledgehammers and axes are fun!
  94. Learn to play a musical instrument— Starting with piano at age six, I’ve since learned: trombone, guitar, penny whistle, Irish low whistle, bagpipes, and the digeridoo.
  95. Write a news article— I’d like to think some of the writing I do on here qualifies as that.
  96. Fell a tree with an axe— Several times. Also with a machete and some with a sword.
  97. Fell a tree with a chainsaw— I helped my neighbor remove a tree that was right on our property line. Even though it was a hot day, I thought I should wear jeans. Good thing too. When the chain flew off, my leg stayed intact and I lost no blood.
  98. Light off fireworks— who hasn’t? Plus, what unpatriotic person calls the cops on the 4th of July? Have some pride in our country and loosen up a little.
  99. Hop a fence lined with barbed wire— OK, this isn’t as bad as it sounds. It was at the end of a very long day. I was walking up the border of England and Wales on a national walking path called Offa’s Dyke. This day in particular was over the Black Mountain range. Roughly 24 miles. I had gotten down off the ridge and was making my way to town but lost the trail a bit. So I crossed a farmer’s field to get back on track, but I ripped a big hole in my pants in doing so. A huge pack tends to throw off your balance.
  100. Watch a foreign film— Some of my favorite films of foreign. “Samurai fiction”? Heck yes!
  101. Read someone else’s unedited, unpublished book— As part of my writer’s group, we do this all the time.
  102. Listen to another culture’s music— I love many different types of music.
  103. Listen to an hour of music that was written over a hundred years ago— That Vivaldi knows how to lay it down.
  104. Travel to a foreign country— Canada, Mexico, Jamaica, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, France… and more to come.
  105. Travel to a foreign country where they don’t speak English— No habla ingles.
  106. Go into the wilderness— Whenever I can. The Adirondacks and the Whites are my favorites so far.
  107. Go into the Australian Bush— I stayed on a farm out in the bush Down Under. It was great, I got to hike, ride horses, hang out around the campfire. And the sunsets!
  108. See the Northern Lights— When I was staying at a youth hostel on the Isle of Skye in Scotland, I looked North and there they were. Beautiful.
  109. See the Southern Cross— During a BBQ we had out in the bush, I looked up, and there it was. That night was magical. I ate kangaroo, played in an Aussie bush band, and hung out with friends around a fire, lovin’ life.
  110. Spend 48 hours in a major metropolitan center without a home or hotel— Only when I was on a train from Glasgow to Edinburgh did I realize that maybe everything would be booked because of the Month Long International Festival. I ended up camping in my tent in a city park for a week. One time I woke up because a ball hit my tent. I peeked out and discovered I was in the middle of a cricket pitch but no one wanted to wake me, so they just played around me. I love Scotland!
  111. Visit a no-kidding Scottish Castle— Speaking of Scotland. We decided that the best way to see castles in the summer when they are crawling with tourists is to just wait until five o’clock or so and then just hop the fence. It worked with Eilean Donan and Urquhart on Loch Ness.
  112. Stay in a hotel— who hasn’t. You may retort, “Homeless people, you insensitive jerk!” and I would say to you, “Nay. For when both shelters downtown are full, they send people to stay at a cheap hotel on the Southside.” Guys actually try to time it right so that they can get a private room with TV rather than a 40-bed dorm
  113. Stay in a crummy hotel— I can’t remember specifically, but maybe that’s safer.
  114. Stay in a five star hotel— We stayed at an awesome hotel in Schwabish Hall in Germany. And a night in the Chateau Frontnac in Quebec was a wedding present.
  115. Stay at an all-inclusive resort— Breezes on Runaway Bay in Jamaica. On the one hand, it was great. On the other, I felt like a tourist and not a traveler. I didn’t get out to see the real, dirt-poor shanty Jamaica. Just the happy, jerk chicken-serving with a smile Jamaica.
  116. Do New York City— A few times. I still need to get back. I live in the same state for crying out loud!
  117. Visit an active nuclear reactor— It was with school so I didn’t get to mess around in the control room.
  118. Look into an active volcano— We got off the bus and loaded into four-wheel drive off-road vehicles. Up a steep bumpy road for a while, the we got out and hiked down into the crater. Steam and sulfur abounded. We all swear we felt a rumble. Very cool. Mt. Terawera in New Zealand if I remember correctly.
  119. Experience an earthquake— My coworker and I were leading a group of inner-city teens on a multi- mountain climbing trip up in the Adirondacks. On the morning we were packing up, I heard a faint rumbling. It grew louder until the ground started shaking. I was sure boulders would come crashing down and crush our camp. But it subsided, besides a few aftershocks several minutes later. One teen said he woke up and thought he was back in his house on the Southside and it was a car with a loud Bass system blasting music…until he realized he was in the middle of the woods. We later found out we were only 50 miles from the epicenter and it was a 5.1.
  120. Feed a wallaby— Yes, it’s as cute as it sounds. Down in Oz.
  121. Milk a cow— Not that exciting, but I guess it’s a good skill to have.
  122. Get stung by a bee— My first bee sting was terrible. We were at my friends house for a BBQ and we were playing in the backyard, barefoot of course. I stepped on the bee which, understandably, stung me. I grabbed mt foot and hopped around yelling. Everyone thought I was making a new dance and started clapping and laughing for me. Eventually they figured it out.
  123. Look at the sun during an eclipse— Our stupid middle-school principal thought that kids needed to stay inside during an important solar event and ordered that no one leave the building. I guess that fire alarm showed him! Being resourceful, I made a pinhole viewer with my notebook, but I stole a bare-eyed glance too.
  124. Build a campfire— One match.
  125. Throw a disposable lighter into a fire— FIRE! I’ll go one better and say that white gas makes a fireball thirty feet high. Now that is impressive!
  126. Go swimming less than half an hour after a meal— I never had bad cramps.
  127. Stay overnight in a house/cave/room said to be “haunted”— Hoo boy. My family passed through a town called St. Briavel’s in England. I heard that the castle was turned into a youth hostel and swore to return. A month later, I found myself staying in the “hanging” room. Below me was the “prison” room. I just thought it was quaint names for the tourists. The biggest room was the “royal” room. That kind of thing. The next day, I was poking around and studied the walls of the Prison. Hmmm, there were bars on the windows. And what’s this scratched into the walls? William Ibbes was hanged yesterday- 1681. Holy crap! I took the free tour from the director of the hostel and he said that prisoners were indeed kept in that very room. Upstairs is where they were executed. People sometimes woke up feeling something tightening around their neck. I slept well though. The worst part was across the courtyard in the other tower. The ground floor had an oubliette. That’s French, meaning: to forget. In the middle of the room, they had a pit 30 ft. deep where they would throw people in and forget about them. People sleeping in that room woke up to a very cold room. Some presence pushed them towards the hole in the middle of the floor and when they tried to escape, the door would be locked. A few minutes later, the door would unlock, the room would warm back up, and the pushing would cease. Years later, I saw St. Briavels Castle on the Travel Channels “Most haunted places in Britain.”
  128. Swallow your gum— Only a few times.
  129. Throw a hat on a bed— Yes. What’s supposed to happen?
  130. Walk under a ladder— I needed to get by.
  131. Step on a crack— They’re called sidewalks.
  132. Feed a live animal to a snake— Many times. They like it better that way.
  133. Blow something up with explosives— A honeydew melon rind has enough force to draw blood from 20 ft. away if you use a cherry bomb.
  134. Undertake a hands-on project involving a field you know nothing about, have no training in, harbor no inclinations for, and generally dislike— I need to re-wire my house.
  135. Use a power tool— Sawzall!
  136. Run with scissors— yes.
  137. Reformat your hard drive— Out of necessity. That shows me to let someone who “knows something” about computers try to fix a bug by messing with registry keys.
  138. Pick a lock— I was bored in my little cubicle selling tickets at the movies. One of the drawers had a broken lock with a removable core. I taught myself how it worked then tried some more.
  139. Flirt— Who wasn’t a teenager?
  140. Break up with someone— Several times. It’s never fun.
  141. Tell someone you had a crush on for a long time how you feel— At the end of senior year I gave her a letter spilling everything. I haven’t talked with her since, but we’re friends on Facebook now, so I guess that’s something.
  142. Find an intelligent person diametrically opposed to one of your fundamental beliefs; carry on a rational, calm, logical conversation about that belief— My cousin. Creation -vs- the Big Bang and Evolution.
  143. Go get a college degree— It only took me 6 years to get a 2 year degree, but now I have an A.S. in Business Administration.
  144. Sit through someone else’s religious service— Catholic and Mormon
  145. Learn a foreign language— Espanol, unt ein bishin deutch.
  146. Learn a purely visual language— Semaphore. Boy am I a dork.
  147. Learn higher math— Calculus counts right?
  148. Learn advanced calculus— Imaginary number like eleventeen and thirty-twelve.
  149. Maintain use of an obsolete technology— Straight razor shaving counts here too.
  150. Undergo an invasive surgical procedure involving no anesthesia— Back when I was really convicted about being Straightedge (still got my edge) I refused Novocain for multiple fillings. And once, a root canal.
  151. Endure a sweat lodge— Vermont and Germany. Not as sexy as you may imagine.
  152. Eat something from a street vendor— Mmm food.
  153. Go spicy— I like my food spicy. Indian, Thai, Mexican. I love it all.
  154. Drink Turkish coffee— I just did this last week. Very strong, but also good. The traditional third boil is crucial.
  155. Drink some tea— I’m not sure why this is a dare, but I enjoy tea too. When my friend was going to China, he gave me all his loose leaf tea. Because, you know…You just don’t bring tea to China. Rooibos Pretoria and African Honeybush Vanilla were my favorites. Get them here.
  156. Drive a forklift—  I just did this today for the first time. I ran out of things to do at work and had time to take the training. Pretty fun but will take some getting used to.
  157. Climb a building— Several times, but I used rope. I’m not totally stupid.
  158. Fire a handgun— Yes, several models, from small 22 caliber all the way up to a 57 magnum. They are harder to shoot accurately than the movies depict. Also, know your gun safety before handling any gun. Practice muzzle control and know what you’re shooting at and what is behind it.
  159. Reproduce more than once— Two is WAY harder than one.
  160. Meet one of your Heroes— I met the Jamaican bobsledding team. They were pretty cool. And I got to meet and train with a few Olympian lugers.

This is great news. I just commented on this story yesterday as it was rattling around the blogosphere. I said: “Yeah, that’s ridiculous. Why expel a kid for forgetting to take his nail clippers out of his bag? Oh wait. I’m sure that he actually meant to shiv someone in the lunch line, and that he wasn’t just hygienically conscious. Now if it’s an actual knife, that’s different, but clippers, or in this case, a spork/ camping cutlery, that’s just crazy. You have to question the priorities of whichever administrator brought attention to this in the first place. Let’s hope this gets resolved soon. Unfortunately in today’s news climate, with war, healthcare, and the economy, it may be overlooked.”

Well, I’m happy to say no, it didn’t get overlooked, and justice has prevailed. For those who don’t know, 6 year old Zachary Christie was suspended and forced to attend an alternative school for violent offenders when he brought in his new favorite camping utensil to eat lunch with. He is a model student and excited about learning. Apparently he would wear suits to school of his own volition. Being a Cub Scout, he loved his newest camping implement and wanted to use it at school. But his school had a zero tolerance policy against weapons and he was suspended, facing a 45 day sentence. His mother protested and bloggers (like you and me!) spoke out and brought dialogue to the national stage.

I understand that we need to keep our schools safe, and if kids bring box-cutters, knives, guns, etc. to school they should face the consequences. However, I think the zero-tolerance policy needs to be amended for special circumstances. For example: we have a technical school in Syracuse that teaches local high school students trades like automotive maintenance, fashion, cosmetics, cooking, nursing, carpentry, etc. Imagine a student enrolled in the cosmetics program. She doesn’t have time to go home between classes to get her beauty supplies, so she carries them with her in her backpack. Her school on the southside conducts a random weapons search and finds her nail clippers, file, and maybe some shears for hair. Uh oh. She a violent offender for sure! Lock her up before she stabs someone! Nevermind that she’s a straight A student and always nice to everyone. She planning something. Policies like this need to be under constant scrutiny so that we can protect our young people rights and make sure they feel like America is a good place to live and not some dictatorship. Enough of their rights are taken away already in school. How to dress, speak, where they can or can’t walk and when. For the sake of good students everywhere, review your local school’s policies before another six year old’s bright vision of school is shattered and re-fused from the ashes as bitter cynicism at a broken system.

And now I will relate the dramatic story of when my brother stabbed me in the back. Yes, he actually did.

There we were on a pleasant weekend afternoon, me, my best friend, and my godbrother (the son of my godparents.) We had spent the hours after lunch turning my room into the perfect 10-12 year old play spot. There was the big pile of LEGOs all over the carpet. The discarded drawing pads from when we had our Most Awesome Jet drawing contest, and a chess game in progress on the bed. Go-bots (the less commercially viable version of Transformers) also made a showing. We were all deep in concentration when we heard a little voice out in the hallway leading to the door of my room.

“I’m gonna kill Danny.” my two year old brother said in a mischievous whisper. The three of us looked at each other, not knowing quite what to expect. On the one hand, Pete was only two years old. How much damage can a toddler do anyway? On the other hand, this was Pete we were talking about. El Destructo. The Terminator. The Master of Myhem. Mr. Booders. (don’t ask me where that last one fits in) Pete was a local legend in the neighborhood for having The most Terrible twos, EVAR. All eyes turned towards the door…

In an explosion of movement, my two-year-old brother kicked the door in and took a flying leap across the room straight at me. As soon as he landed, his hand swung around, and with a wicked scream, stabbed me right in the back with a flathead screwdriver. I writhed in pain, my arm reaching around to pluck the dreaded implement from my abused back. Luckily, it had only broken the skin, not penetrated too far. Pete was still all over me, punching and hitting. A cocoon of horror, writ in pudgy, little hands. I reacted naturally and kicked out, sending him flying back across the room to smash into the LEGO bin, a used Christmas popcorn sampler tin. You know, the ones that are two feet tall and have regular, cheddar, and caramel corn.

So Pete runs out of the room crying while my friends are looking at me in shock; like, “Did your brother actually just STAB you? Yeah…he did.”

The next thing I know, Mom is yelling for me to GET DOWNSTAIRS THIS MINUTE, MISTER! I exchange another look with my friends and hobble downstairs. After I explain what happened, I got the expected dose of sympathy when one nearly experienced fratricide. And that, as they say, is that. Do you have any fun stories of violence among siblings? Now keep in mind that the key word here is FUN. I don’t want to celebrate truly terrible domestic situations. But, everyone has a good story of when their brother attacked them with a tire iron, or nearly blew their ankle off with a quarter stick of dynamite. Stuff like that. So what’s yours?

IMG_2456This is a question I ask myself sometimes, lying awake at night. Where would I get clean drinking water? What about food? Would the government intervene? How effective would they be? We all saw the response to Katrina and that was a localized incident. What if there was a nationwide, or even worse…worldwide crisis? Could you protect your family? What happens when my car runs out of gas and all the stations are run by armed gangs who demand $1,000 a gallon? Do you have a plan in place?

I have camping gear, and books on survival, but would they really be useful? If things really started falling apart, would I want to move out to the woods? Probably not. I would protect my home. But I don’t own a gun. Don’t misunderstand that I’m not armed (potential robbers reading this) I have several swords, knives, and a hunting bow. But a gun trumps a knife almost every time. People sometimes comment on how uncivilized third-world countries are, but if you took away grocery stores, indoor plumbing, and most importantly, a visible police force, watch how fast our “civilized” society descends into chaos.

We have our own vegetable garden, but it’s not enough to live off of. We have a pond behind our house, out in the park, but that is run by city pumps, not a free flowing stream. There is a stream a few blocks away, but would a Brita filter be enough for us? If we had to live in the woods, I’m sure we could do it, left to our own devices. But another factor is a bigger issue. Human nature can be ugly, greedy, and cruel. I’m more worried about the roving gangs of opportunists who take what they want by force. Against them, my family would fall. Unless we banded together with other neighbors and became similar to what we were protecting against.

Castle in Baden Wieler

An interesting take on this situation is a book by Larry Niven titled “Lucifer’s Hammer.” In it, an asteroid strikes the Earth, thrusting humanity, and California in particular, into chaos. Gunman control decaying supermarkets, military leaders go AWOL and from their own mini armies, roving the counrtyside taking what they want, and good people just trying to survive get caught in the middle, constantly heading for higher ground and a safe place that only exists in their dreams.

I ask these questions, because in todays’ uncertain economy, they bear thinking about. You may call me an alarmist, but so far, I haven’t stockpiled any freeze-dried foods, grain, water, gas, or guns. Hmmm… I wonder when the local Army/ Navy store closes?

Chapter 5. (more…)

Chapter 4 . (Six and a half years later.) (more…)