Monday, April 26, 2010

My Wilderness Instructor Belt Has Arrived!!!!

Yippee Kai-Yay Muthas!!!!!!

I finally received my much needed, much desired Wilderness Instructor Belt. It is THE SHIT. Tensile Strength over 4 ton+Made in the USA+Bad ASS=EPIC WIN.

I love my new belt. I shoulda bought this long ago. Well worth it in every respect. My gun is happily situated on the hip, and my Corona is happily situated in my mowth.

Over and Out, Suckas!


Friday, April 23, 2010

Further Thoughts on Renovations

A look at old houses.

As you may know, I've become something of a construction enthusiast over the past couple of years, analyzing various homes in terms of their potential vs. their problems. I get juiced when I see a project in the works on an old home, especially an old country home. Beautiful houses are not made for magazines. They are made to be lived in.

Here's some thoughts on evaluating an old home. It's just a list of things I'd like to keep in mind before looking at a home as an investment. I just can't help it--I really dig real estate.

Ok so you think you've found your new home/project. You like what you see. First thing to really evaluate is the foundation. I recently did a walk through on a rehab in Strasburg. A really pretty house with gorgeous refinished original wood floors, new drywall, electrical tidied up, new appliances in the kitchen, steam heat, wood stove, etc.

And then I walked downstairs. The basement was dark and dank. I could see the moisture on the walls and the rust on the pipes. Bad sign. This doesn't mean walk away, but it spells trouble for the future and this issue will have to be addressed. If you really like a home, you have to be willing to live with it's foibles. If you are going to try and pass it off as a flip, then well, you need to make sure the rest of the house is so nice that the people who buy it are willing to overlook the basement.

In addition to mold, moisture, and rust. Look for cracks along the walls and floor and evaluate the plot of land the house sits on in terms of drainage. If it's on flat land, as this one was was, flooding of the basement may be an issue. French drains and a sump pump are really the only solutions, the latter being the back up plan.

BTW, the house was originally on the market for $99,000. Asking price for this newly renovated dwelling is $167,000. They did a nice job. I'd say it's worth about $150,000 tops.

2.) Planning your renovation. Maybe the wheels are spinning and you can see massive potential in the house. This is good, but the voice of reason, the skeptic in you must win the day. I mean if you are already looking at a potential fixer-upper, you are already an optimist. When you are planning renovations, even off the cuff however, the realist in you must carry the day. Think it will cost $1500? Double it. Think it will take you a month? Consider it three. Think you will realistically work on the place after your 9-5 and on weekends? Cut that time in about half. Now you are getting a more realistic picture, if you are like me, who has to learn the hard way.

3.) Assess reality, not fiction. Look at the whole picture. If a home is out of whack, you need to love out of whack homes. This means that if you see the ceiling drooping, or the floor sagging, or the wall out of plumb here and there, that's what you'll be working with unless you decide to delete old walls to add new ones. When you work with the imperfect, life is always harder and the project will take longer. In some ways, the results will seem more natural in the end. It just depends.

4.) That brings me to my next point. Don't expect everything to simply come together in the finishing touches. It's still going to look out of whack to some extent if it's an older home. You just don't want it to look ghetto.

5.) My final point is to start with a plan, not an idea. Yes, yes, I know, ideas spawn plans. But before you break out your tool box, know exactly what you are going to do each and every step of the way. Have a drawing. With details. You don't have to be an architect, but a drawing does so many thing an idea in your head does not. It organizes your efforts and gives you a realistic "picture" of the final product. Some people even build models. Whatever gives you your vision, don't start unless you have a drawing, and one that includes not just placement of furnitures and built ins but also tracks your plumbing and electrical.

There are many more items I can add, but this will have to do for a moment. The house shows all get rendundant after awhile. At somepoint you just say F-it and whip out the hammer.

Peace Yo's,


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Hitting the Reset Button

Time for a new post.

Last weekend was a supreme occasion for me. I woke up early Sunday morning, checked out Netflix and clicked on watching Conan the Destroyer. I haven't seen this movie in years, but it was a superb way to begin the day and, crazy as it may sound, put a whole bunch of things in perspective.

First, the movie. Arnold in his prime. The dude is massive and imposing, and the point is duly made throughout the film that he is the strongest mofoe anywhere. He's brutish and thugish and has no compunction lopping off heads at will. I love it. You just can't get this level of vintage brutality these days.

Many prefer Conan the Barbarian. Indeed, it is a more intense and dramatic film. The soundtrack is the arguably the greatest that has ever been produced for any movie at any time. And there's some wicked battle scenes. The Destroyer is good, nay, very good, but not quite the first film in all its epic originality. Some people call this stuff campy. I call it great.

"Time enough for the earth in the grave."

Watching this film was so much fun, I can't tell you. It was like hitting the reset button on my life. A little Conan puts it all into perspective. Seeing him blast that camel on the top of its head with a clenched hammer fist made everything feel better. I can't describe it any better than that.

"Oil the Sword. Feed the Horse." Words to live by, my friends.

Peace Out, Homies.


Friday, April 02, 2010

Smithwicks & Slugs

On St. Patty's Day, I found myself at Walmart aquiring a 6-pack of my favorite Irish brew. I also added a couple 5-packs of rifled 2 3/4 12 gauge slugs to the basket. A perfect combination, but it had me thinking: every time I stop at Walmart, I am going to pick some 12 gauge slugs or buckshot. It's an easy way to stockpile ammo without feeling the hit to badly. In a time of crisis, you have what you have and that's it.

Sun Tzu--or someone bad ass--once said, "The great general is not the one who wins 100 battles, but avoids 1000."

I mentioned this recently when talking about my own modus operandi with a fellow martially-minded person. The art of avoiding trouble is every bit as important as learning how to exit or neutralize trouble when it occurs. I find if you think ahead you can avoid all but the realisitically unexpected events, such as Billy-Bob and Tyrone skulking through your backyard with a pocketful of xBox. At that point, one should be so ready that the surprise is on them.

Being ready. Vigilance. Alertness. This is what seperates the warrior from the wannabe. The warrior lives by intention, not by luck. He welcomes luck, but strives to not be dependent on it. Instead he is aware. He who is aware can win many battles by seeing them before they happen, and cutting off his enemy at the pass. Whether it's avoiding the critique of a cranky boss or the jerk-ass driving 25 in 5mph zone, being aware in the present moment can be the difference between a good day or bad one, between business as usual and ending up in the hospital.

We should never underestimate the importance of our own awareness. It is the most critical skill of the warrior, one that needs to be continually refined, practiced, tried-out, honed, lived, and polished.

There are many stories repeated by students of O'Sensei, the founder of Aikido, who told his students to try and surprise him, if they ever found the opportunity. Despite many of them trying, even while he slept, none of them suceeded in doing so. He would stir from his slumber, sensing their intentions. Or walking down an alleyway alongside the dojo, he would feel them waiting behind a corner and change course. Such is the mark of a true master.

The most important skill of the warrior is a supreme awareness. But when that fails, start blasting.

Over and Out,