Saturday, December 15, 2007

Paso power outage

Noelle Blicha
Light: Fauxton

Noelle: the power went out here about 45 minutes ago
the house was all dark
so i went for my keys
cuz they have my little led flashlight keychain
it allowed me to assemble a collection of candles until the power came back on
i thought you'd be proud

Me: rad, good work
everyone else was helpless right?
and they were like "schizatch save us!"
and schizatch was like "I don't know where I left my light :("
"my little sister will have to save us"

Noelle: schizatch was inthe shower

Me: that'll teach him
unless he did remember to shower with his flashlight

Friday, November 16, 2007

Santa Cruz Double Fisting

Contributed by Sam
Lights: Fenix L2D-CE, Inova Gen2 X1, Gerber Infinity
Location: Felton, CA.

Well, as part of a greater scheme to help a friend, I found myself driving up to Oakland, CA for a night.. After we had taken care of business, we drove back through Santa Cruz on our way home to Cambria. Santa Cruz just so happened to be having their farmers market, so we stopped to stroll the boulevard, and to eat some fine food.. As the evening arrived, we had met with a few of our friends, Fire, Naan, and a few other assorted people of the woods. We all attended a music show put on by bicycle riders who powered their amplifiers with a generator system hooked up to two stationary, peddling cyclists. It was a pity the music wasn't great (though the idea was cool), and we all decided to head home....
This is where the story gets interesting...

The night became late, and this large crowd of people we were with all decided to head home, with exception to the fact that they did not have any means of transportation......That's where I come in.. In my little 5 passenger '97 Honda Accord we managed to fit 8 full grown adults, two stuffed hiking backpacks, and three sacks of groceries into it plus all the other stuff that my friend and I had prior, and took off into the redwoods...

We ended up in this small town named Felton after driving on a hairpin road for 10 miles, and dropped off a couple of people there. The remaining people said that they slept at a place called 'Magic Mountain'. So off we went to Magic Mountain, up some steep hills, through a couple private gates, and onto unpaved road.... When we arrived at 'Magic Mountain' I noticed a huge, broken down tour bus, and absolutely nothing else except forest all around...

Upon shutting the engine off, we were plunged into absolute pitch black darkness, accompanied by a warm silence that permeated our senses..."Oh, good" I thought.. "I actually am prepared for this situation"... As time went on, and people got out of the car and tended their things, my vision improved a bit and I noticed another older '80's style Astro Van, and some other hand-made shacks in the woods around us...After the initial shock of the darkness, I decided to pull out my Gen 2 Inova X1 and inspect around the car... The first thing Naan said was, "Oh wow, you have a light... Nice".. Yeah.. I've got a light, a few of them in fact...

Now that everyone had finished tending their things, there became a central goal among us to build a fire... As soon as that goal came up, everyone started cautiously scrounging for whatever branches they could find in the dim light of sporadic lighter strikes.... "Oh my!" I thought to myself.. "This is my time to shine...".. I head back to my car, grab a Fenix L2D-CE and a Gerber Infinity in red. I walk up to the hillside where everyone is stumbling around and fire up the Fenix in one hand, the X1 in the other, and kept the Gerber in my mouth to see where I was walking (that's right, double fisting, and oral action!). I used the Fenix and Inova to spotlight the ground for my friends so they could see, and Lo and Behold! Everyone could SEE and could gather wood so much quicker!.. Everyone was so grateful and surprised and happy that they started laughing and shouting into the night in celebration..

After we had gathered our wood, with me acting as a mobile light tower, I pocketed the torches and let the fire illuminate our faces....Around the fire, Fire told stories about 'Magic Mountain'.. How it is actually the first mound of seabed to have emerged out of the ocean many years ago. And here on this mountain, the Native Americans carried out ceremonies and other rituals of healing on their people. After the story everyone sat peacefully around the fire and casually tended to it..Eventually we all went to sleep, some of us in the old bus, others out in the woods under a tarp, and me being probably the highest creature of comfort there, decided to sleep in my car... Good thing too, our camp was visited by mountain lion that night..

In the morning I went out for a walk, to take a survey of this place and enjoy the warm sunshine. What I found was amazing. A huge solar panel array, small well and greenhouses filled with plants, all constructed by these backwoods folks who have no proper names. Quite an amazing place I might say..

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Adventures on the Blue Star Highway

In August of '07, Piper was moving up to Reed in Portland and needed someone to drive with her, so I went along. A trip is always interesting for someone interested in gear and dedicated to preparedness because it forces them to actually take their practical hobby somewhat seriously. In my case, this meant no pockets full of flashlights to compare and contrast, but instead a minimal complement of just the essentials. Fortunately, the brand new NovaTac EDC-120P I'd preordered arrived just days before we left, giving me a light versatile enough to pretty much serve as all of my necessary lights in one (which is exactly what it ended up doing, I didn't use anything else). On the night of the 14th, we arrived on the outskirts of Castle Rock, at the southern edge of Washington. We were heading to Piper's dad's house and she had just taken over the driving because she somewhat knew the way there, but it was late and very dark and difficult finding the right way with her dim headlights. So, of course, out came the 120P at full power to help with spotting street signs. It found the sign we were looking for and we were on our way. It also provided dim lighting for me while in the car on the ride up, late at night while everyone else was asleep at the house, and on the 28 hour train ride back. (Fond memories of it discreetly lighting my little area as I ate that much needed turkey sandwich late at night while crossing through the Cascades.) It served me very well. :)

For all the drama that has surrounded NovaTac since then, and all the bad blood and broken promises, I still look upon that light rather fondly. The NT line had glitches and their specs were dishonest, the companies ethics came to light and left much to be desired, and I ended up switching back to mostly carrying my by-then-obsolete proper HDS after about half a year because the NT tint was bothering me, but when I think of the 120P I think of it as the light that was with me during that important time. I'm disgusted by the company, but the light itself is an old friend.

On the knife side of things, I carried my yellow Mini-Grip, which was pretty much the only knife I carried from 10/06 to 6/09, but I don't think I used it for much beyond opening snacks on the trip up. It felt kind of appropriate that I took a knife that was made in Oregon, and it got to play in the silty sand alongside the Columbia River... which actually didn't mess up its pivot as much as you'd expect.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Spain 2007

Contributed by Sam
Lights: Purple Fauxton, Photon Freedom
Location: Granada, Spain

... Ah yes..
Prior to my Flashaholism, I planned to head out into Spain for a summer trip... I was ever so generously provided a purple Fauxton key-chain LED from Saturnnyne. I also received a Photon Freedom night-vision-red key-chain light. Both, I felt at the time, were perfectly adequate. I also was generously lent a Inova X1 Gen1, although it was not in use at the time of the imminent story.
This part of the story involves the Photon... After traveling about a week in Spain I ended up in a city called Granada. I got there by a stroke of luck, after having met an American named Amanda in a train station of Sevilla. I took her suggestion to head out to Granda, so that we could see El Alhambra . . After a train ride to Granada, we made contact on the platform and flagged in a Taxi. She said that she had reservations at a hostel and that I'd be more than welcome to join up with her and see if they have extra space. Upon getting there, learning that they did not have any extra space, I was provided a clean sheet and a small mattress and told to sleep in the hallway next to the broom closet. Fantastic, right?... Well as night starts setting in, I realize that my belongings are exposed, and so I make my 'bed' and begin the evening stalk.. Granada was 80degrees at night, and so I decided to take a shower before all the other crazy travelers there start getting their groove on. Intially I walked into the rather large bathroom, searched for a switch to turn on the lights, but all I found was a plate on the wall that was asking us to put money in to turn on the lights.... Oh yeah?...Luckily I had my photon, and its clip!...So I clip it up on the top of the shower curtain and get a ceiling bounce of night-vision-red into the warming cloud of steam... Ah yes.. That's what I call showering in style.. Also too note, that I shower very quickly.. Less than 8 minutes from fully clothed, bathed, and dressed again.
.. After I had finished, I retreated back to my hallway to process dirty laundry into my pack.. As I did so, I switched to using the Fauxton just to get better color rendition on the items in my pack..

It was then when another person comes up the stairs and enters into the area where I am.. He sees my little light on and comes over to check it out .. We greet each other and he asks about it, so I hand it to him and tell him it's un luz de destello, or a flash of light... So for some reason he's really impressed by it, and outright offers to buy it from me.. It seemed really funny to me, and I laughed to hear him say that he'll give me 10 euro for it...Ok.. You can have it for 10 euro...Nicer too was that he let me use it to finish up my pack, and then handed me a handful of coins and took the light with him to his bunk... How about that...$13 bucks for a .50c key-chain light.

.. Luckily still I had my Inova X1, but that's a different story.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Campfire Fauxton use and EDC lecture

Noelle Blicha
Light: Fauxton

Noelle: i used my keychain flashlight tonight

Me: yes!
tell me the story

Noelle: well. it was dark around the campfire
because the fire was getting low
but i had my flashlight
and i could see

Me: that's amazing!
the others must have been embarrassed by their weakness and preparedness inferiority
what about your other light though, which should always be with you?

Noelle: it is
it resides safely in my purse

Me: and wasnt your purse with you?

Noelle: in the car

Me: argh, that doesnt do much good
well, it's a very good start and I'm proud of you for that
but you still have some things to work on here
you need to learn the true meaning of EDC
It should always be there, ready for action. I mean, for example, when you shower that light should be hanging around your neck.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Conversation: Flashlight features

12:00:25 AM Me: its early, did you get kicked out too?
12:00:41 AM Mike: no i went straight home from work
12:00:56 AM Me: ah, pre-emptively kicked yourself out
12:03:35 AM Mike: shouldn't you be out testing flashlights?
12:05:45 AM Me: yes, actually
12:06:14 AM Mike: throw
12:06:19 AM Mike: longevity
12:06:41 AM Mike: patented
12:06:46 AM Mike: adjustable
12:08:40 AM Me: or flood
12:08:43 AM Me: tint
12:08:48 AM Mike: hue
12:08:50 AM Mike: saturation
12:09:09 AM Me: glare/bounceback
12:09:37 AM Me: ergonomics
12:09:44 AM Me: retention
12:10:04 AM Me: ease of activation
12:10:07 AM Me: versatility
12:10:13 AM Mike: weight
12:10:16 AM Mike: size
12:10:19 AM Mike: color
12:10:22 AM Mike: finish
12:11:29 AM Me: clip design (if applicable)
12:11:33 AM Me: interface
12:11:42 AM Mike: lanyard hole angle and position
12:11:44 AM Me: tailstanding/candle mode
12:12:01 AM Me: stealthiness
12:12:24 AM Me: waterproofness
12:12:59 AM Mike: lens material
12:13:04 AM Mike: reflector material
12:13:08 AM Mike: body material
12:13:11 AM Me: reflector surface
12:13:13 AM Mike: openable without special toolsable
12:13:25 AM Mike: extra bulb in tailcap
12:13:55 AM Mike: underwaterness
12:13:57 AM Me: anodize type
12:14:18 AM Mike: assembled by which minority
12:14:45 AM Me: out of parts from which country
12:14:54 AM Me: what type of led, if applicable
12:15:10 AM Me: what kind of bulb fill, if applicable
12:15:22 AM Mike: tungsten
12:15:27 AM Me: thats the filament
12:15:30 AM Me: more like xenon
12:15:34 AM Mike: argon
12:15:48 AM Me: krypton
12:16:15 AM Mike: ability to crush walnut
12:16:55 AM Me: ability to not be crushed by a truck
12:17:04 AM Mike: float or not float
12:17:20 AM Me: battery chemistry options
12:17:38 AM Mike: battery combustibility
12:17:44 AM Mike: finish toughness
12:18:06 AM Me: finish matching of components
12:18:47 AM Mike: do i go get another 4x4
12:18:50 AM Mike: i'm hungy still
12:18:59 AM Me: you already have a 4x4
12:19:24 AM Mike: i ate it!
12:19:30 AM Me: ranger!
12:19:34 AM Me: no!
12:19:42 AM Mike: we're off topic
12:19:56 AM Mike: ability to swap lens for colored one
12:20:16 AM Mike: ability to affix shock resistant gear
12:20:27 AM Mike: shock gear material
12:20:34 AM Me: heft
12:20:48 AM Me: accessory assortment
12:21:14 AM Me: shock/recoil protection
12:21:44 AM Me: circumference to hand size factor
12:22:25 AM Me: knurling comfort
12:23:07 AM Me: levels spacing, if applicable
12:25:00 AM Mike: gasket type
12:25:03 AM Mike: gasket material
12:25:08 AM Me: /o-ring
12:25:15 AM Me: number of o-rings
12:25:18 AM Mike: oring is a gasket type
12:25:27 AM Me: yes, the type that flashlights use
12:25:34 AM Mike: i'm sure there are variations
12:25:44 AM Me: I don't have one with anything else
12:25:48 AM Mike: sure you do
12:25:54 AM Mike: i bet that old one is just pipe thread
12:26:13 AM Me: actually the threads are just the molding of the metal
12:26:20 AM Me: its like crimped into threads
12:26:29 AM Mike: thats a joint type then
12:26:40 AM Me: k
12:26:45 AM Mike: little hook or no little hook
12:26:48 AM Mike: did we do pocket clip?
12:26:53 AM Me: I think so
12:26:57 AM Mike: pocket clip removable if applicable
12:27:09 AM Mike: oh yea, i finally killed the black widow
12:27:15 AM Me: good job
12:27:17 AM Me: how
12:27:17 AM Mike: i used a 3d mag too
12:27:20 AM Me: nice
12:27:28 AM Me: black widow killability
12:28:26 AM Me: non-removability of clip when not trying to remove it, if applicable
12:28:57 AM Me: ease of clip use / pocket retention
12:29:46 AM Me: thread smoothness, length, and strength
12:30:05 AM Mike: pitch
12:30:08 AM Mike: metric or standard
12:30:34 AM Mike: focal length if applicable
12:31:15 AM Me: silence on all levels; or volume, pitch, and annoyance factor if not
12:31:54 AM Me: value
12:32:20 AM Mike: nono no
12:32:23 AM Mike: value is subjective
12:32:28 AM Me: beatability (related to cost and toughness)
12:33:13 AM Me: value is subjective, but some lights are just clearly a good value, like when theyre cheap but have performance above what youd expect at their pricepoint and don't give up anything critical
12:34:03 AM Mike: oh like every mag
12:34:04 AM Me: for example, my surefires are ok value to me, but are very poor value overall, but my highlighter is a good value, even though I rarely use it
12:34:15 AM Me: but mag gets you on the bulb and D cell replacement
12:34:18 AM Mike: larger than 5D or not
12:34:30 AM Mike: its cheaper to just buy a new maglite
12:34:35 AM Mike: with 2 bulbs and fresh duracells
12:34:49 AM Me: they dont come with fresh duracells unless its a minimag
12:34:58 AM Mike: yes they do
12:35:07 AM Me: my 3D didnt
12:35:09 AM Mike: my 3D definately came with duracells
12:35:11 AM Me: 2C didnt either
12:35:16 AM Me: when did you get it?
12:35:26 AM Mike: 5 years probably
12:35:29 AM Me: I think they used to supply them, they definitely dont anymore
12:35:30 AM Mike: and it came with a minimag
12:35:38 AM Mike: which also had batteries
12:35:40 AM Mike: and the holster
12:35:45 AM Me: my 3D came with a minimag, mini accessories, and 2 AAs
12:35:55 AM Me: 2C came with nothing
12:36:01 AM Me: 2Ds Ive seen come with nothing
12:36:22 AM Mike: they make a 2d?
12:36:30 AM Me: of course
12:36:42 AM Me: its 15 bucks, same as 2C
12:36:56 AM Me: I have one, check it out
12:38:13 AM Mike: a 2d?
12:38:15 AM Mike: its probably ugly
12:38:23 AM Mike: all stubby
12:38:23 AM Me: it looks like a 3D
12:38:29 AM Me: only one that has 2 Ds
12:38:31 AM Me: instead of 3
12:38:48 AM Me: its actually not all that stubby, still pretty long
12:39:03 AM Me: but definitely stubbier looking than the 3
12:40:33 AM Me: you forgot shininess
12:41:42 AM Me: grabability in temperature extremes
12:42:36 AM Mike: theyre all aluminum body mostly, thats probably pretty god aweful
12:42:49 AM Mike: steel will isolate the temperature alot better
12:43:00 AM Mike: but at the same time aluminum allows the whole body to become a heatsink
12:43:18 AM Me: yeah, if theyve been sitting in a cold car they are pretty uncomfortable, thats where polymer bodies are really nice
12:44:00 AM Mike: no you need a flashlight glove
12:44:18 AM Mike: like a falconer has a glove
12:44:27 AM Me: no, just need to pick the right material for the temperature you'll be facing
12:45:01 AM Me: or, if it'll be used in the cold, you'll probably want two gloves regardless of the type of light
12:48:21 AM Me: bezel sharpness
12:51:29 AM Me: switch durability
12:51:31 AM Me: switch noise
12:52:07 AM Mike: one thats overlooked alot
12:52:10 AM Mike: smell
12:52:15 AM Mike: some of them are just horrible
12:52:21 AM Me: that's true
12:52:31 AM Mike: and it gets on your hands
12:52:34 AM Me: I have some lamps I don't like to use anymore because they smell when heated
12:52:48 AM Me: rubber coated ones can leave a smell on your hands
12:52:54 AM Me: and copper/brass ones like the old one
12:53:56 AM Me: this isnt a big factor to me, but taste when mouth holding
12:58:59 AM Me: color rendition
12:59:07 AM Me: is it better suited to indoor or outdoor use
1:09:15 AM Mike: ok using the laptop sucks i'm gonna go do other stuff
1:09:23 AM Me: okbye

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Conversation: MiniMag - The Ranger of flashlights

Lights: Fenix L1D-CE, MiniMag

Me: well as long as you have it, I recommend you go have some fun with the light, compare it to minimag and whatnot
Mike: i already did
Mike: i opened the box
Mike: went "ick"
Mike: and closed it
Mike: and i used my blue minimag for about 2 hours today
Mike: one of 2 blues
Me: when the head is fully tightened it comes on at full power, half press strobes it. head loose, comes on low, half presses step through two more levels. go adventure with it
Mike: too fancy
Mike: it should have
Mike: on
Mike: and off
Mike: and patented adjustable beam
Mike: and candle
Mike: thats all i can comprehend
Me: if you want on and off, leave the head tightened down and just press the button on and off, dont do the half presses
Me: you wont even have to deal with the extra features
Mike: too fancy!
Me: press, on!
Me: press, off!
Mike: it has an integrated circuit
Me: easy
Mike: too FANCY
Me: pft
Me: you'll never get to see how much better your minimag is if you dont compare em
Mike: i already know
Mike: a minimag is like a 1988 ford ranger 2 wheel drive
Mike: it just doesnt get any better

Friday, April 13, 2007

Conversation: Mag 6D - The best flashlight in the world.

Mike: 2 hundred dollars!
Mike: for a FLASHLIGHT!
Me: yup
Me: now theyre gone so theyre expensive
Me: I got mine in the going to be gone sale
Mike: are they really better than 10 minimag leds?
Me: sure are
Mike: how could you need that much light!
Me: its not how much light
Me: its how well it controls that light
Me: and how well its all put together
Mike: patented adjustable!
Me: how perfect the beam is
Me: how the tint is guaranteed white
Me: it has a patented adjustable beam level
Me: I used mine tonight, on the 2.5 and 42 lumen settings
Mike: i have a minimag
Mike: it's blue
Mike: i paid 0 dollars for it
Me: how's its regulation?
Me: cool
Me: is it like this? [HDS regulation curve]
Mike: yep
Me: that's pretty good then
Mike: 6D's is better
Me: I'm sure it is
Me: it gets brighter during use right?
Mike: yea
Mike: its hyperbolic
Me: down then up towards the end? over and over?
Mike: infinitely fantastic
Me: so is that how you vary the output, just wait for it to hit the level you want?
Mike: it knows
Me: how does it know!
Mike: it uses a neural network to predict what output level i require
Mike: judging on previous uses and heuristics
Me: well that's pretty good
Mike: it's feed forward
Me: hm?
Mike: i'm not explaining it
Me: I wouldn't understand?
Mike: i only basically understand them
Mike: theyre crazy
Mike: and in their infancy
Mike: it means its outputs can be used as inputs to itself
Mike: so it essentially feeds itself with its old decisions to influence new ones
Me: you're saying it can learn and think!
Mike: yes
Mike: its how anything that resembles artifical intelligence works
Me: 6D is scary!
Mike: yea it knows what you want
Mike: thats how good the 6D is
Me: not bad for 20 bucks
Mike: 20.95
Me: I want one
Me: put 18 AAs in it
Me: jam an air raid searchlight on the front
Mike: why modify perfection?
Mike: thats like getting rims for your enzo
Mike: now like a surefire or a streamlight
Mike: i can see modifying those
Mike: thats like leaving your vw stock
Mike: you just gotta mod that ish
Me: my surefires roll just fine stock, aside from the occasional engine swap

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Post-Bright Eyes show

Lights: HDS B42XRGT, SureFire L2

It was probably about 3am on the morning of March 11, 2007, and Samy and I were back from the Port O'Brien/Bright Eyes show at the Great American Music Hall. We were staying in Oakland at Van & Cammi's apartment, sleeping on the floor of the living room with Liana and one or two other guys. Everyone else had passed out after a very long and hard day, but I—being the most accomplished nightowl, the most obsessive detail freak, and the only one who had not inhaled intoxicating smoke from burning leaves—was still up getting the night's gear stowed and preparing for bed. I was able to do this very silently, except I found that I needed to turn my light on and off quite frequently for some reason, and the polite click of my B42 turned into an obnoxious crack when echoing through a dead silent room with wood floors. After a few embarrassed and silently apologetic clicks were needed, I gave up on the clicky switch for the sake of the others sleeping all around me and switched to my SF L2 with red filter. So this is actually more a story of a light failing to provide what was needed and being replaced by another. I record it here for the memory more than the story.

At the show itself, I carried only the L2. I didn't want to go into an environment with unknown security loaded down with too much gear, so I picked one light, which was the one that would be most valuable if I ran into trouble in the shady neighborhood surrounding the hall (100+lm and 6" of bludgeoning force). With the red filter, it was quite perfect for lighting up my recording gear, which I had to keep stealthy since the hall did indeed have some security.

Interesting little side note, just for my amusement: That show was the first place I went without my new G2Z, which I'd gotten a week or so before. That doesn't matter, but I just remember well how much I liked that light, how I made a point of carrying it everywhere, until it came down to choosing only one. In hindsight, I should have taken the B42 along too. It would have been no trouble at all and I see it as a little sad that it wasn't with me for that night; that light, more than any other, is like a friend to me.