Compleat Idler, Humor

Compleat idler – the Mississippi connection

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

 

Back in 1945 my Aunt Evangeline, an Episcopalian from Boston, decided she would marry and civilize Boudreau Beauregard Laporte, Jr, who may or may not have been Cajun but had proposed to translate Longfellow’s Evangeline into le francais d’acadie. The result was my cousin Beau who went by BB Laporte, III. Beau married Victoria Mary McDonald, which is how I came to meet her family. These adventures should be understood for what they are.

My “shirttail cousin” Bubba McDonald who practices divorce law in Mississippi (the only state with a silent syllable) called me last may after he decided to withdraw from electoral politics. (Like it did any good—he ran in a district he has a vacation home in that has never elected a Republican to the Legislature. As in not ever. Not even during Reconstruction.) So the family political legacy fell to the twins Bragg and Buford—all the boys were named after Confederate generals though the family had moved down from Ohio in the 1920s, but “Gramps” McDonald had political aspirations not realizing that there were long memories. Long memories included that rascal Crockett coming down from Tennessee to promote the National Bank in 1829—and escaping with no tar. The county was posted “No Whigs.”

Bubba had an idea that it might be better to go statewide so he made a speech in Oxford in favor of gay marriage—offending both the Tea Party and the Republican establishment. He was promptly put forward to the Board of the “Family Law Group.” This is an association of divorce lawyers who believe every person has the right to have his/her property divided by a judge.

At any rate he relayed to me the following email.

Sorry to hear about your hand and the humidity down here. Am out of politics for the time being, but Bragg filed for the legislature.

And when I walked into Newt’s Waffle House, all the discussion was on the scandal of 75 which caused Bragg to quit his job with the Ag Dept and go back to gunsmithing which he does better than entomology anyhow.

Seems that back that year Buford was having problems with the cotton crop. My suggestion had been to dredge out the blockage between the field and the bayou (and I do not mean that bar in Oxford where you and Beau Laporte are personae non gratae) and farm catfish, shrimp and crawdads. But Bragg said he would rent Buford a couple boll weevils from the batch he was experimenting on. Said they should produce a big enough infestation to get a $60,000 eradication grant. Problem was, the were both male and you know Buford. What Buford knows, everybody in Ma’s Roadhouse knows which means everybody in three counties knows.

The NRA will back Bragg if Old Man Carson does not seek reelection. And since everybody remembers 75 (hell, they remember the War of 1812 like it was yesterday and we have lived here long enough that Cap’n Jack McDonald had a Company of Militia at New Orleans) he is using the slogan, “The lessor of the weevils.”

Take care of yourself up in Yankeeland and get down here when you can. We’ll get Beau’s skiff and a case of Dixie and go after the big cats.

Regards,

 

Pete

 

Pierre GTB (Bubba) McDonald, Esq

Divorce and Personal Injury

I was not sure what (if any) reply would be appropriate.

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Compleat Idler, Education, photo art

Compleat Idler – the f/ stops here part I

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Back in the sixties, photography took over my life. I remarked when I was selling photo gear and finishing on what digital photography would have done for my social life—no more hanging out in the lab until three in the morning, smelling like chemicals or having stains on my clothing that bleach would not touch. I could have gone over to a friend’s pad and had beer while I loaded images onto a laptop and sent them anywhere in the world. Today the job would be done before the teams got back to their locker rooms.

But back then it was use a mechanical camera preset for the average light, push the Tri-X to 1600 or greater speed. Larry Dressler has a method for going to equivalent iso of 12800 at http://www.digitaltruth.com/articles/pushing-tri-x.php This is wilder than anything I did or even had the patience for. I would use developers called Acufine or Diafine which supposedly used different areas of the emulsion to do the magic—which worked most, well better than 50 percent, of the time. I used a lot of high contrast paper in those days.

While I was learning a lot about photochemistry and emulsions I was also setting my body up for problems later on—by the fall of 1975, the professor in a graduate course barred me from the lab for exposure in excess of that recommended. He said I could keep using my home lab for black and white as long as I improved my ventilation. There is nothing unique about this experience. Several people, who, like myself, did their own black and white survived for years. So why worry.

The mechanical cameras were upgraded over the years and the apex was the Nikon F2 or Canon F1 in the early seventies. So these were discussions over beer and pool—as far as I was concerned these were discussions because my budget and business plan did not have room for a new camera and I picked up used Nikon Fs for $100 or less. By the time I got an F2, it had been replaced by the electronic F3—the apex of electronic non-autofocus SLRs—an the F4, a poorly performing autofocus SLR that was rushed into production after another company seized the initiative. So the discussions have continued over the years.

My friend Johnny ran a photofinishing and used camera store in a rough neighborhood. As the neighborhood got rougher I spent time there after I got off work so there would be two of us when we closed and two of us when we caravaned to the bank. The local thugs knew the guy in the truck had a Mossberg 500 and steered clear. We argued technology for years as I would occasionally look up some of the non-proprietary lenses. And it is always a crapshoot when you buy off brand optics—some are better than others.

A hint for film photographers: The cheapest of the major non-proprietary lenses resolves more lines than Kodachrome 25 which was the philosopher’s stone of transparency film. If you want to see an artistic approximation of the K25 and K64, visit an art museum and find a work by William-Adolphe Bougereau (1825-1905). The temperature and delicacy of the light—the colors and fineness of detail—seem to have inspired the film. In modern film, Fuji Provia 100 comes close in resolution. To go from transparency to the printed page resolution is lost in each stage. So the finest optical glass and a midrange optical glass will produce similar final results.

Johnny was a traditionalist and had been a portrait and glamour photographer. He did catalogs and some photofinishing. I had done some advertising and public relations as well as newspaper and magazine work. By the time I was hanging out at the shop I was doing landscapes and some raptors. I saw the lighter weight of composite lenses as a positive. So we disagreed. When I was laid off from my full-time sales gig, I spent a C-note and got a 2.3mp, autofocus point and shoot. He pooh-poohed it by saying he would shoot negatives and have them give him jpegs on a CD.

I have not worked in the lab since 1993 or thereabouts. Hint: If you have negatives, do not store them in a filebox on the basement floor. Thirty years of black and white work went down the tubes in about 20 minutes during the flood. I do not remember whether I sat down and cried then but I do remember the pit in my stomach. Having culled my transparencies and and stored them high, I still have that record and plan to get a scanner and a pile of CDs to back up my Seagate. Otherwise, they will not survive.

Perspective time again. With a 4×5 view and 6x6TLR I have carefully set up pictures in black and white using the finest grain film and zone exposure. I have done bare domes, broad fields and stands of aspen, but I am not one of the greats. When I was at the University of Denver, I studied at the Denver Public Library which was on my bus route. The table I liked was beneath a painting titled Estes Park by Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902). I bought a large poster in the museum shop at Rocky Mountain National Park and paid for a serious frame. There is no way that painting could be replicated in a single photograph because of the difference in light. I do not have the time to do it. And when one vacations with family, one does not have the time to set up and wait for light.

A few months before Johnny died, I sprung for a Nikon D60. A new SLR! He told me that he could get as good from his F and get CDs. And I have discovered much here about the various options now available such as lenses that compensate for camera shake, and the wide range of options. They finally discontinued Kodachrome 64. It was a matter of time and the fact that National Geographic now uses digital images—I see no degradation in the quality, but I am functionally blind in one eye.

Do I see another SLR in my future? Sure. If I win the lottery and have the physical ability to travel in the west, a pair of Nikon D4s will do nicely.

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Compleat Idler, Free Society, Humor

Boots – a tradition

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

Joaquin Ochoa and I were buddies in grade school in Arapaho County, Colorado. His dad worked at Highland Ranch when it was a ranch. It was in 1955 that I left to journey back to Nebraska where five generations of my mother’s family—both sides—had lived. But during the time we played together we mostly practiced roping and mounting horses and other stuff. At 10 Joaquin finally got permission to do Little Britches, a junior circuit rodeo taking its name from Ralph Moody’s book series that took place in Arapaho County. I did not. One of the disadvantages of a brain injury from breathing before I got out of the canal is a tremor and some loss of muscle control that my parents decided I might ruin my career as a scholar if my body got more screwed up.

Since I was 11 they offered me Scout Camp instead. And when my troop could not come up with a patrol, they let me spend an extra four weeks at my Aunt’s place in Wyoming. Scout camp was not really an acceptable option because I knew from my Uncle’s cowboys what kind of groupies they had at the rodeo and I was 11. But going to the ranch meant that I would get a decent pair of boots to wear for school.

We moved to a small town in Nebraska and then to the west coast. I went on to college and law school and a few jobs before my career as an investigator and administrator—a career being a job you stay at too long. Working retail after retirement I ran into Joaquin. He was involved in stock procurement for a rodeo circuit—having his MBA. His first reaction was to ask if my square toed boots were Tonys or Noconas.

Noconas—Mexican.” I replied.

Why?”

Can’t afford Lucheses.” After we both stopped laughing, he told me about Manuel Almanza, a custom builder in Fort Worth. He gave me a card and told to look the shop up.

As things were going I had been doing some security consulting for a small manufacturer near the airport so the next trip down I took a rental into Fort Worth—I remembered the Almanza brand etched into my Uncle’s square toes—it had taken fifty years to realize why he liked them. I had even practiced a little Spanish just in case. It was a little out of the way place and I went in. The guy who came out of the back said, “Buenos dias, Y’all. I’m Manny.”

Joaquin sent me.”

Yeah, he told me about you and I used to read your posts on the forum—you’re Lobo.”

A pair of black boots covered with dust caught my eye. “Something like those.”

My daddy made those for a Wyoming rancher back in the 70s. He died before picking them up.”

Probably my uncle. We called them old guy boots.”

Let me guess—you liked pointed toes.”

Casey Tibbs wore pointed toes.”

So he measured my feet with the Brannock device and made a tracing. A couple months later—after getting an email that the boots were ready—I went back down to Fort Worth to discuss my report and pick up the boots. I had more time because I was no longer working retail so I hopped in my little Tacoma and drove. I did not need to worry because the Life NRA sticker in my window was sufficient to mitigate the Kansas tag. The little wheelchair on the tag helped in parking.

I went in. As I looked at the counter there was a pair in my style, but they were too short. “Don’t worry Amigo,” Manny said. “I have yours in back. These boots were made for Joaquin.”

As a writer of fiction—I used to write budget justifications for state positions and equipment—I use stories for illustration. Characters may be fictitious, but they are composites of people I met. If Almanza Boot Company exists, let me know—I’ve got a pair wearing thin on top.

Boots are important to people from the part of the world I inhabited as a child. Mostly I got boots from my aunt and uncle—my mother kept me in orthopedic shoes. When I got away to the University of Denver I walked into JC Penney’s, went downstairs and found a pair of H&H oiled leather Wellingtons. It was rebellion. During my career in government service I wore Frye, Hyer, Acme, Dan Post, Tony Lama, Nocona and H&H. I also wore Chippewa, Danner and H&H hiking and military boots.

But today we are discussing western boots like the ones on my feet as I write this. If I hit the PowerBall, I will buy two pair of Lucheses, black and oxblood with square toes. My favorite footwear is the forbidden fruit of my high school years when I wore Dr Scholl’s and some Italian made suede shoes that were oh so comfortable and oh so bad for my feet.

Pointed toes were what the rodeo cowboys of the fifties were wearing—square toes were what “old men” wore. My uncle must have been at least 55. In the beginning Charlie Hyer built a round toed boot at Olathe, Kansas. There were probably dozens of bootmakers in the west but Charlie was close to Kansas City and had a knack for publicity. I do know that the riding heel was at times referred to as the Spanish heel—much like what we call a western saddle is referred to in some circles as a Mexican saddle.

As things go, in 1974 I drove into Olathe to buy some boots at the bankruptcy sale for Hyer boot company—I think I was four or five when my grandfather got me a pair of Hyers for Christmas. But this was a bankruptcy sale and for $150 I bought two pair of boots and a 3X Stetson hat. Amazingly they fit. I have on a couple occasions bought boots that do not—and have paid dearly.

It was about 1976 when I fell in love with a woman 50 years my senior named Enid Justin. Miss Enid wrote a statement I have remembered since about fit. She said that boots which do not fit when you first try them on will never fit—countering my grandmother’s statement about breaking in time. I violated that once and I regretted it. Miss Enid, when her father died and her brothers decided to move the business from Nocona to Fort Worth, opened the Nocona Boot Company with existing employees. There was a reason that Justins and Noconas felt similar. By the way, Nocona is a Comanche word and was the name of Chief Quanah’s father.

So much for history. Olathe boot company opened in the old Hyer factory and builds boots that are used by a lot of cowboy action shooters because they have a 19th Century look. The company was, the last time I checked, located in Mercedes (pronounced Mer-sid-ez’) Texas.

Miss Enid’s company merged with Justin Industries in 1981. In 1991, following her death, all operations were moved to Fort Worth. Tony Lama, also a Justin Company, occupies the same factory but has a slightly different process. There is a low end Nocona built in Mexico. It does not differ much from a similar Lama Boot. Like I said, I cannot afford Lucheses. Justin is now owned by Berkshire Hathaway.

Some hints:

Make sure of your fit and make sure the boot will handle any orthotic device you use. This is a lot more important when you hit 60 than when you are 18 and immortal. (Note: by the time I was 21 I had been clinically dead three times. The last was when I was 20 so I’m only 48, right?)

Do not assume that all boots with the same brand name have the same last.  This especially applies to boots made in China.

Decide if you can wear a Spanish heel or you need a walking heel. Some of us interchange.

The pointed toe is for controlling a horse. It originated in Mexico and became popular with the rodeo circuit. I became aware of it in 1953-54. If you plan to do a lot of walking, get a round or square toe.

Realize that they are not really “cowboy” boots until they have had excrement cleaned off of them.

We had a couple of politicians decide to go native and dress in jeans and boots to meet with ranchers. The latter showed up in suit and tie. Note: I was more comfortable wearing boots in Washington than a friend of mine from the east was wearing boots out here.

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Compleat Idler, Education

Scottish-Americans meet reality – Jacobites

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

NOTE:  This is a rant, not a detailed piece of scholarly history.  Much is relayed through different family traditions and I am not a Jacobite.

The season of Scottish-American pride draws to a close. Soon it will be October with the weather getting cooler and snowfall upon us making outdoor festivals less than pleasant—I remember freezing my buns at McPherson in late September after ditching my windbreaker in Estes two weeks earlier. My broken hip has, for the last few seasons, limited my ability to get to these gatherings and tweak the pride—though a good argument is probably the most Scots of that goes on.

My definition of modern Scots is as follows: A people of varied Celto-Norse heritage living north of England who, without English interference, would have annihilated each other centuries ago. The languages spoken are English, Scots (an English dialect originally called Inglis), Cymru, Gaelic (also called Erse or Irish), Norwegian and Glaswe (the dialect of Glasgow which does not appear mutually intelligible with any known language). Cymru, Gaelic and possibly Glaswe are Celtic (Seltic) languages. English, Scots and Norwegian derive from Old Norse.

I will start with the Jacobites because they are the easiest to describe, being a group of English and Scots aristocrats and bishops who preferred the profligacy of James II (VII of Scotland) to the hard money austerity of William of Orange (both of whom were descendants of Henry VII). We are here talking about the throne of England, the throne of Scotland not having much in the way of power or finances. No, kiddies, Bonnie Prince Charlie had no interest whatsoever in an independent Scotland.

Do not worry. Over the next few weeks I can dispatch Duncan the Wicked, his son Malcolm the Fat Head, Malcolm’s English second wife Margaret, Robert the Brus, the Stuarts and anyone else I can skewer.

Charles I had been removed as King by Parliament. The power of Parliament to choose the monarch goes back to the days of Henry VIII and his concern about the Spanish Princess Mary inheriting from him and restoring the bishops to outside control. He had hopes that Edward VI would grow into a powerful monarch destined for greatness, but gave Parliament authority to name Edward’s successor. Instead of naming Henry’s nephew James V of Scotland, They named Henry’s hapless niece Jane Grey, setting her up to last about as long as Macbeth’s successor Lulach. What happened in terms of greatness of Henry’s successors was that the throne eventually devolved on his younger daughter Elizabeth. And while Elizabeth of England eliminated her whiny, manipulative cousin Mary Stuart, when she died the throne went to Mary’s son James VI of Scotland. This was not because his mother was the rightful monarch but because his great-great grandfather was Henry VII—the Stuarts were in the Royal line because they were Tudors.

In 1688, a group of seven nobles persuaded William of Orange, James II’s nephew/son-in-law and his wife Mary to come to England to oust James. Mary believed her new half-brother to be a switch for a stillborn and feared the coming Catholicism. William arrived with his troops, the military switched sides and James, on his second attempt, was able to take a permanent vacation in France. Parliament declared the Throne vacant, disqualified Prince James Edward by disqualifying any Catholic, and made William King. Note: I determining “rightful” monarchs I follow the practical solution of recognizing the prevailing monarch in the fight.

The first Jacobite uprising was led by John Graham of Claverhouse (AKA Bonnie Dundee—see Sir Walter Scott’s notes in Old Mortality). Claverhouse slaughtered a bunch of Presbyterians at Killiecrankie—he enjoyed slaughtering Presbyterians. However, Claverhouse was killed and the movement sputtered.

Jacobites derive that name from Jacobus (Iacobus) Rex—the Latin for King James. The fact is that Parliament prohibited the issue of James II by his second wife from inheriting which left his two daughters, Mary and Anne, and his nephew William of Orange. Following the deaths of William and Mary, Queen Anne assumed the throne. Following the death of Queen Anne’s last son, Parliament passed the 1701 Act of Settlement which provided the English crown, in default of issue from either William or Anne, was settled upon “the most excellent princess Sophia, electress and duchess-dowager of Hanover” and “the heirs of her body, being Protestant.” As it happened, when Queen Anne died without issue in 1714, the crown went to Georg Ludwig, great grandson of James I. So we have the line from the Hanovers to the Stuarts to the Tudors.

Now the throne of England has a history of being transferred by military power. The most famous was in 1066. When Edward the Confessor died there were four claimants. The “rightful monarch,” grandson of Edmund Ironside stayed in Hungary and expected to be called. Harald Hardradi of Denmark invaded from the North, picking up support from Caithness and Orkney. In a fluke he was killed by the troops of Harold Godwinson who then marched his troops south to Hastings where he ran across William of Normandy. William’s Normans had lived in Normandy since his ancestor Ganger Hrolf had made a deal with Charles the Simple for land in exchange for stopping the raiders from the North from viking in Paris. The were basically Norsemen who spoke abominable French. So when George ascended the throne James Francis Edward Stuart, having been recognized as King by Louis XIV in 1702 decided to restore his rights.

The problem is that when you attempt a military solution against a recognized monarch you need a competent army, competent commanders and a coherent plan. Remember that when the Brus went up against Edward II at Bannockburn, he had 300 Norman cavalry stashed in surprise mode and he had more or less popular support. Scotland was not universally Jacobite. The Duke of Argyll had no love for the profligate James II and VII. The Protestant branch of the family had stabilized the economic situation. A note: The Stuarts, like the Brus, were Normans—they tended to crop up in a lot of places as the civilizers of Europe.

Again in 1745-46, there was another major uprising led James Francis Edward’s generally besotted son Charles Edward William Stuart who was half-Polish and raised in Italy. The general reception he got in the west of Scotland was, “Go home.” According to Alex Beaton he replied, “I am-a home.” Alex went for the New York showbiz laugh. Bonnie Prince Charlie had never led an army in combat but that was not a problem because Scots are “natural fighters.” (Note how Robert Brus had heavy French Cavalry and the Scots did not fare that well against the English overall.)

So after getting within striking distance of London, Charlie retreated to Inverness. George called on his own surrogate, his son William, Duke of Cumberland, who had been in military combat for years and was battle hardened. With experienced English and Scots troops he marched north to the climax at Culloden. There was no secret Templar army waiting, only Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobites. The aftermath of the battle—the slaughter of survivors—was carried out by Scots troops, the English not really having much taste for slaughter.

We all know the Skye Boat, the escape in drag courtesy of Flora McDonald in exchange for the Dram Buie recipe, and the later life which would indicate he was not as much into discipline as his Hanoverian cousins. But this little tidbit was in the Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/9211247/DNA-reveals-the-truth-about-Bonnie-Prince-Charlie.html

Evidently there is a gene for profligacy in Cornwall as well.  (Addendum: Well he should have Welsh DNA.  He was a direct descendent of Owen Tudor.)

While the rout a Culloden ended the military threat to the Hanoverian line, there were some sphincters tightened in 1784 when Scottish Episcopal Bishops consecrated Samuel Seabury as Bishop for the Church of North America. Fearing the rise of a Jacobite Church the English Bishops swiftly obtained authorization to consecrate Bishops for the American Church without the oath to support the King.

There are still some “Stuart” claimants, but it is more likely that the monarchy will simply disappear altogether. As I have said, no one recognizes a loser—except maybe other losers.

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Compleat Idler, Education, Homeschooling, Technology, Tool user

Complete idler — reading suggestion

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

10.12! That is the October 2012 Popular Mechanics. The question as I wander by the magazine rack is “Should I buy this or hope someone else does?” And I looked at the cover, and it featured stealth aircraft which will turn off most of my friends. The technology of stealth fascinates me because it represents a game of camouflage—sort of like the scout patrol that wore woodland camo pants and called themselves the Camo Gators: “We’re the Gators! You can’t see us.”

But I look at the contents. Jay Leno’s Garage. Okay, it is coming home. I will never afford the car collection he has—the Powerball never gets that big. But I have been fascinated by cars ever since we did the work on my grandparents’ LaSalle. That an engine works that way was a mystery to a five year old that bordered on magic. And since I realized I could read about third grade, what was in the magazines around the house was fair game.

And when I had mumps or other long illness, I would get a stack which included Field and Stream, Popular Mechanics, Popular Science, and sometimes Popular Photography. I was corrupted from a young age. I also snuck a look at my uncle’s True.

So check out the October issue. Especially with homeschoolers check out the squishy circuits and LED projects. On Lew Rockwell, Karen de Coster is fighting for incandescent bulbs as opposed to CFLs. The bad news is that incandescents are going by government decree (and the Administration also killed the Crown Vic). The good news is that in five to ten years CFLs, which have mercury as well as a tendency to break in my hand, will be history. LEDs are cleaner and require much less power.

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Compleat Idler, Education

Why MBA – A question to ponder

 

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The dean of the local business school was discussing the MBA program which may expand. Now I knew all the selling points for the program. I had a coworker who complained that the average salary for the MBA was considerably higher than the average for the MPA (master of public administration) which should have surprised no one since at that time the money was in the private sector.

The question I was asking for years is why we had separate degree programs for business administration, public administration, criminal justice administration, educational administration, etc. But I now wonder whether we really need a program in administration or management at all when the skills can be learned on the job. Is it for the CEO’s semi-literate nephew?

I may discuss this further.

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Compleat Idler, Preparedness, Tool user

Idler’s tools – parachute cord

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

My Swiss Army Knife Zermatt pouch arrived Saturday, September 8—it was scheduled fotr Monday, September 10. So far, so good. I had been thinking of getting a Huntsman with pouch after seeing one in the store for less than forty bucks. My Leatherman tool is too heavy for waist carry and I could use something more than a blade. Plus, the corkscrew says I am sophisticated.

When I went back the one with the pouch was gone so I went home and searched through a drawer because I remembered seeing a basketweave Zermatt pouch for the old Explorer that I cracked the spine on. My memory still tricks me and, as I said in a post on cutlery, when I go through my old stuff, surprises await. I did not find the pouch—it probably went in a lapse in the Scout Leader accumulation instinct. No, there was my Victorinox Huntsman, waiting to be picked up and used. The scales were darker than the new ones, probably due to handling and the oils from my hands—lanolin, neetsfoot, gun oil, machine oil etc.

So I went on line to find a pouch. The general run of stuff appears to be either cordura or a black clip-on case. An outfit called Swiss Knives Express had real Zermatt pouches. I ordered one with a sharpening steel for twenty bucks. And it arrived. The knife slid in tightly. It pulls out with effort. A thong on the lanyard ring would help.

My first choice would be leather, but what I had was parachute cord which is the subject of this post. At this house we buy 550 cord occasionally, but when we do we buy spools. A 1000′ spool will provide 10 100′ hanks which is the smallest amount I carry. And if there is 25′ still intact at the end of the weekend I roll it and stick it in a drawer or the bottom of a pack. So there is always some around when I need it. About six inches was all it took to give me a small loop that leverages the knife out of the pouch.

Shelter: Using the 550 is much more convenient than carrying 3/8 inch Manila—and about as strong. Combined with a tarp or sheet of Visqueen, this provides sturdy support between poles or trees. While all nylon has more of a tendency to stretch than hemp, the parachute cord is not as loose as the polypropylene rope used for marine purposes. And it has the advantage of tying almost like natural fiber. In erecting shelter use of the taut-line hitch is critical as this allows you to loosen or tighten the lines. (The aluminum or plastic line adjusters that come with commercial grade tents get lost.

Lashings: I began scouting in January of 1955. I spent that month learning knots, hitches and lashings because that is what the troop leadership was into and I had already learned woods tools from my grandfather, having taken out a three-inch sapling with a ¾ axe at age 10. This is not the way we do things now because there are fewer necessary knots: sheet-bend, bowline, taut-line hitch, clove hitch, timber hitch, square lashing, diagonal lashing, shear lashing and tripod lashing. There are other lashings, knots and hitches but these are the essentials and are learned over a year period. In the Pioneering merit badge program the standard is ¼ or 3/8 inch hemp or sisal rope because that is the way it was done back when. (Note: were the Mountain Men still around they would use the 90 mph tape.) In training we used sisal twine that comes in 100′ bales. But I like the 1/8 inch diameter parachute cord because it lays down nicely and I generally have some.

Securing gear: Because you can tie secure knots and use the taut-line hitch, 550 is preferable to bungee cord which gives and uses hooks that break at the least opportune time. (Is there any gear failure that does not occur at the least opportune time?) My grandmother had me use cotton clothes line for this project which wears quickly and she could cut into the right length with kitchen shears. It is nearly impossible to untie when wet and starts to smell.

Bootlaces: Cut to the right length, these are the laces that say, “I can improvise.” They started as a quick fix on a weeklong outing and ended up on the boots in the closet—when you have them in, it does not pay to buy commercial laces.

Limitations: This is not rescue rope. And, unless you get the military stuff with threads inside you are just getting an outer shell—it might fasten gear but it has little utility in the field. As with all polymers it will melt quickly.

However: I consider parachute cord to be an essential part of any preparedness supply.

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