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Nov 21,2014- Folded Steel Katana 2...

We had taken a FirstLook at one of the three folded-steel katana in July. That katana was from HanBon Sword. As we had stated at the time, for the Tameshigiri Series, we will be reviewing swords from different Chinese smiths in these ranges: $150-$350, $350-$600, $600-$1000. And to keep things interesting, we will not reveal the price of the katanas until we are done with the reviews.

Today, we are going to take a FirstLook at the second of the three katana. This one was forged by the smiths at Lyuesword, also located in Longquan China. In fact, their workshop is just "down the road" from the HanBon.

The folks at Lyuesword were a pleasure to deal with. They were friendly, responsive, and very knowledgeable. In ordering our katana, we could have specified EXACTLY what we wanted, but we opted for a combination which they recommended for the price range we had indicated. Unlike the experience with our first sword, this one from Lyuesword arrived REALLY quickly. The shipping process automatically notified us when the item was picked up by EMS. We were able to track the progress from the time it left the forge, made its way out of China, arrived in the US, and delivered to the office by USPS. In fact, the entire trip only tookl... [more] - Tameshigiri Series :Folded Steel Katana 2


July 18,2014- DIY: Tanto...

While cleaning up the office, we came upon a tanto blank we had purchased many years ago but had forgotten. It has been a while since we built a knife. In fact, the last one was as some twenty years ago. That one had a simple sheath and handle, because back then, access to fancy fittings were not readily available like they are now. Today, nicely cast fittings may be had on EBay at great prices. We decided to make a knife from our recently-discovered blank.

We found a nice set of fittings (guard, end cap, and handle decorations) which we thought would pair nicely with the blade. The pattern is a reproduction of an antique one and made for a... [more] - DIY: The Tanto


July 7,2014- Folded Steel Katana...

The Japanese katana, or sword, was a weapon that was perfected during centuries of, let us say, direct testing in the unforgiving fields of battle. The traditional Japanese sword-making process was surrounded by ritual and ceremony, in keeping with the importance that both maker and user placed on the sword. Swordsmiths would examine blades from samurai returning from battle to learn how their "product" performed. It was through this type of trial and error that the Japanese perfected the techniques for creating the type of steel which gave the katana its almost mythical qualities: the ability to hold a keen edge AND to not shatter when striking something hard.

The world has learned a lot about making quality steel since katanas were last used in battle. Today's factory-produced high-carbon and tool steels (such as 1060, 1095, and T-10) have been successfully used by many US sword makers (including Dave Goldberg, Walter Sorrells, and Barry Dawson) to create functional, traditional, and Japanese-inspired katanas. Hand-forged katana is a labor intensive endeavor. It is one of the reasons why such katanas typically start at a few thousand dollars and go up from there.

The last few years has seen an explosion of Japanese-style katanas coming out of China. Prices for such items start at about $50 and top out at just under $1000. Sword forums lit up with discussions regarding these new entrants as buyers discovered that they were not (all) cheap "wall hangers," but quality swords at sometimes unbelievable prices. What is the story?

When we started the Tameshigiri Series last year, we kicked around the possibility of reviewing Chinese-made katanas. After some back and forth over the scope of exactly what we would do in such reviews, we have decided to go ahead with the project. Over the next year, we are going to review swords from different Chinese smiths in these ranges: $150-$350, $350-$600, $600-$1000. We will compare the fit and finish of these blades, the quality of their fittings, and how they feel when used in actual tameshigiri. To keep things interesting, we will not... [more] - Tameshigiri Series :Folded Steel Katana


March 28,2014- Forks Over Knives ...

The RainyDayKitchen folks have enthusiastically feasted on all manners of meat and have loved every bite (except, of course, the vegetarian). However, a recent viewing of the documentary Forks Over Knives may have put an end to their carnivorous activity. At the very least, it gave everyone pause to reconsider the source of their protein. After discussing our reactions to the thought-provoking Forks Over Knives movie, we decided we wanted to read more about The China Study. The China Study was heavily referenced in the documentary and we wanted to better understand both the results and their implications on weight and health.

What is The China Study? It started with the Cancer Atlas Survey. In the early 70s, China initiated a nationwide survey to collect information about cancer. The survey involved 2400 counties and 880 million (96%) of the population. To date, that was still the most ambitious biomedical research project ever attempted. The result was literally a set of maps detailing the presence and absence of certain types of cancer in China. It clearly illustrated geographically that some cancers were... [more]- Forks Over Knives


March 17,2014- Fire Cider ...

Those who know us know that we are not ones who are into home remedies (well, one of us is, the rest of us just let her talk). While we do not dismiss folk medicine as hokum (we do acknowledge that a number of today's pharmaceuticals have herbal roots), we do put more stock in understanding the mechanism of action more than just anecdotal evidence. However, we were intrigued by a bottle of Fire Cider one of our editors brought into the office. She was taking it to help with her cough. She was willing to share it with the few of us who were under the same affliction (she's nice that way).

The spicy apple cider vinegar concoction was rather tasty and surprisingly, did help in suppressing our coughs. Unfortunately, the small bottle did not last very long. Instead of "coughing" up $15 bucks for another bottle, we thought we would... [more]- Fire Cider


February 27,2014- Sport SC500 CloserLook...

Last week we took a FirstLook at the BlackVue's Sport SC500 action-cam. Today, because of requests from some very eager readers, we are going to take a CloserLook rundown of the the various mode and features of this little device.

BlackVue Sport SC500 is small and lightweight, clocking in at 55 x 44.2 x 37 mm and 73 g. Its functions are managed by three control buttons: shutter (top), WiFi (left upper), Power/Mode (left lower). The speaker is next to the shutter on the top and the microphone is under the Power button on the left. The two ports (USB, HDMI) and the microSD slot are on the right, covered by a lid (not connected and we expect, easily lost). The mode indicators are in the... [more]- Blackvue Sport SC500 CloserLook


February 21,2014- BlackVue Sport SC500...

Head-mounted camcorders let us experience stunts from the lunatic's daredevil's point of view. Footage captured by these cameras have put us in the middle of some of the most amazing actions imaginable. However, there was a time (2004) when we had to cobble together our own kit out of pieces from a lot of different sources (StickyPod, AdventureCam). A decade later, companies such as GoPro, with their tiny, waterproof, and ruggedized digital video cameras, have made it easy for anyone to capture live action when risking life and limb(s). Other video camera companies have taken notice of this exploding niche market and have started to introduce their own version of the "action cam."

Blackvue, the same company which produce the awesome line of vehicle recorders, has introduced the BlackVue Sport SC500 action camcorder. Blackvue recognizes that while these cameras have traditionally been the staples of action-junkies, there are many other less "limb-risking" situations where it would be great to... [more]- Blackvue Sport SC500 FirstLook


January 27,2014- Roolen Breath Humidifier...

Humidifiers are great for adding moisture to dry Winter air. We run our humidifier from November until April. The added moisture makes the room feel warmer, breathing easier, and virtually eliminates the static shocks so common to this time of the year. Unfortunately, humidifiers are...not the most attractive of devices. We put up with them because we value the function over the form. However, we secretly wished for a unit which was attractive, quiet, and simple to operate. With the Roolen BREATH, it appears that our wish has been granted.

The Roolen BREATH is a "smart ultrasonic humidifier." It has the following specs:

  • Humidifying Capacity 400sq.ft / 28m2
  • Noise < 25db
  • Available Colors Black, White
  • Weight 1.1KG
  • Dimensions 20x20x26 cm
  • Rating Voltage 100-240v Frequency 50/60hz Power 20W
  • Water Tank Capacity 3.15 L
  • Low / High / Auto Mode
  • Run Time 24 hrs / 12 hrs / 24+ hrs

The Roolen BREATH humidifier is about as simple to operate as a light switch. There is one button and... [more]- Roolen BREATH Humidifier FirstLook


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