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06/30/15 04:06 PM Stranded Woman Starts Forest Fire by Doug_Ritter

<sigh> http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/06...ational-forest/

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06/30/15 01:39 PM Condor Bushcraft parang - quick review by Tom_L

Thought I could share some observations on my new COndor Bushcraft Parang if anyone is interested.


By now I suppose a lot of people are already familiar with the Condor Tool & Knife brand. The Bushcraft parang is one of the newer models. It's marketed primarily as an all-around outdoor/bushcraft tool and I thought I could give it a try because it is a type of blade that I generally find very handy in the woods.

I already own a bunch of comparable tools from traditional billhooks to kukris and heavier machetes like the Tramontina bolo. The Bushcraft parang fits into the same niche more or less so I was curious how it would compare to my existing arsenal.

The terrain around here is mostly hilly woodland with mixed forests. For the most part, there is plenty of undergrowth. Even though one does not usually need a long bladed tool for clearing trails it comes in very handy when preparing a camp site, processing firewood, cutting smaller saplings for a makeshift shelter, delimbing etc.

Traditionally, billhooks have been used around here for that sort of work, usually complementing long saws and large axes. I've done a lot of work in the woods with my billhook and it is a really good tool, but alas a little cumbersome to carry in a backpack due to the large forward spike.

The Bushcraft parang seemed like an interesting alternative. It's more streamlined and has a little longer reach at about the same weight. My first impression was highly encouraging. The folks at Condor know their stuff. The parang is fairly plain to look at but the blade has very good taper. It starts about 4.5mm thick at the grip and thins down to just a little over half that thickness at the grip. My set of hardness testing files confirms a hardness of just a little over 55HRC very uniformly along the entire cutting edge.

The balance is really good. Once you grip the parang it really becomes a natural extension of your arm. The blade has a curve that puts the sweet spot at just the right place for good chopping performance. The grip is curved ergonomically, too. It is a little long for most hands but nut uncomfortable. So as a whole, the design is well thought out.

One of the things I like about the Bushcraft parang is the convex grind. Nicely done with an almost perfectly straight cutting edge. Good enough out of the box, but I touched up and polished the edge anyway as I do with any new cutting tool. That said, the blade did not require any reprofiling, which is a rare thing these days IME. Particularly in that price range.

The parang comes with a decent nylon sheath w/ belt loop. Some reviews indicate that the sheath on the early models was too tight but clearly the issue has been resolved properly. The sheath on my parang is a good fit and keeps the parang secured with a nylon strap around the grip.

So far, so good but I was keen to see how the parang would perform in the woods. It has been only a month so far, not enough to form a really solid opinion. But I am happy to say that the parang has done a very good job so far. It's easily capable of cutting through 2-3" saplings in one go. Despite its looks it is not what most people would think of as a machete. It has a pretty solid, rigid blade and the same heft as a billhook. It is not an ideal tool for clearing tall grass or the like but excels at processing green wood of some size.

It is perfectly capable of taking down trees up to about 6" in diameter with not too much of an effort. As far as chopping performance in thicker wood it is comparable to a good billhook and every bit as good as a hatchet. It also batons very well. In fact, that makes it a fair bit more effective at splitting wood than a hatchet.

Edge holding has been surprisingly good. The parang hasn't needed resharpening yet, no nicks, edge rolling or any other visible damage. So all in all, it is looking quite promising and goes to show that a blade of that type can be useful in temperate woodland, too.

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06/30/15 03:24 AM Missing hikers find SAR helicopter by dougwalkabout


A couple in their 60's, missing for seven days after a hike, walked out of the British Columbia bush and up to an idling SAR helicopter in a clearing -- just as the search was being called off.

Temperatures for the week were soaring -- up to 40 C.

Their families were in another SAR helicopter flying over the area to say their final goodbyes. They got the news while in the air, above the couple's last known location.

Apparently the couple didn't see what all the fuss was about. Though they were down to their last TicTac.

The number of things these folks did to get themselves in trouble is classic. Even so they did a thing or two right. I guess it goes to show how small choices can turn the tide in your favour.

520 Views · 10 Comments
06/23/15 03:27 AM Man survives entrapment in 8" crevice by dougwalkabout

I can't believe this man survived -- it defies belief. He had a freak fall into an 8-inch wide rock crevice some 40 feet deep. Yet somebody heard him calling out for help. And rescue crews managed to get him out alive. Incredible.



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06/23/15 01:34 AM The fascinating world of disaster logistics by AKSAR

I've run across a number of interesting articles about the fascinating world of disaster logistics.

Pauli Immonen is quick-marching the length of the tarmac at Port-au-Prince’s crippled airport, looking for a missing 737. It’s not as if he can just check the arrivals board — the 7.0 earthquake that rocked the Haitian capital eight days ago has left the main terminal a flooded, deserted husk. The floors are littered with broken ceiling tiles, and inch-wide cracks snake along the walls. Outside, Immonen skirts a blacktop crowded with military transports and chartered jets; the flock of small planes that usually roosts here has been forced onto an adjacent patch of grass. The noise is as oppressive as the afternoon heat — deep belly rumbles from taxiing aircraft, the basso whup-whupping of helicopter blades, the grumbling and reverse-signal beeps of forklifts and buses.
Immonen hit the ground in Port-au-Prince less than 72 hours after the quake, when the streets were still strewn with corpses. He arrived from Helsinki with little more than a mosquito net, a sleeping bag, a laptop, and a sat phone. When he snatches a few hours of sleep, it’s in a tent pitched 100 yards from the airport runway. A member of one of the Red Cross’ Emergency Response Units, Immonen has been a first responder in crisis zones from Darfur to Afghanistan to Pakistan.

His job is to wrangle airplanes, making sure that the people and materiel on every Red Cross relief flight get to where they’re supposed to be.
Despite the massive scale of their operations, only in recent years have the people who deliver disaster aid begun to benefit from the kind of data-driven decisionmaking and rigorous academic study that their commercial and military counterparts rely on. In the past decade, the responses to major disasters have been analyzed in hundreds of case studies and pored over by experts, their conclusions field-tested in subsequent crises where yet more data is collected. Learning the right lessons could not be more important: The stakes are literally life and death.

In Year of Disasters, Experts Bring Order To Chaos of Relief (behind WSJ paywall, try googling the title to get access). More on how the modern techhnology that companies like DHL and UPS use can be applied to disaster relief.
The effort to bring modern shipping methods to disaster relief is largely the inspiration of a San Francisco cargo tycoon named Lynn Fritz. He sold his own company, Fritz Cos., to United Parcel Service Inc. in 2001, banked some $200 million and started looking for a philanthropic enterprise. He soon became an evangelist for applying logistics techniques to the delivery of disaster relief, eventually founding the Fritz Institute, a nonprofit devoted to the cause. The slight, frenetic Mr. Fritz, 63, runs it from the suite where he lives at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco.
The $1 trillion cargo industry has become a repository of knowledge on how to move large amounts of goods to remote places in a big hurry.
Mr. Fritz's idea was to bring the same regimen to disaster relief, using companies who already know how to do it and have a stake in a damaged region's recovery from disaster.
Mr. Fritz went on to found the Fritz Institute. One of the group's biggest projects is a free software program that aid groups can use to manage emergency response in the same door-to-door fashion that freight companies use to supply their customers. The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva put the software into operation for the tsunami. The system allowed the group for the first time to put donations and destinations together in one database so that it could quickly tell donors where supplies should be sent. "We have gained a fivefold efficiency compared to the older days," estimates Red Cross information technology specialist Sanjiv Jain.

For more up to date coverage of logistics for Nepal see Nepal Earthquake Poses Challenge to International Aid Agencies.

And another recent one from WSJ Nepal Earthquake Response Challenges Logistics Experts (Again try googling the title if you can't get through the paywall.)
“Logistically, this particular disaster—because of the geography and the mountainous terrain and poor roads—is probably the most difficult response I have ever had to implement,” said Alex Marianelli, senior logistics officer for Asia at the United Nations World Food Program and one of the directors of the effort that is bringing medicine, food and other supplies to the battered, impoverished nation.

In piecing together a plan for the capital of Katmandu and remote villages in Nepal’s rugged mountains, Mr. Marianelli and others in what the United Nations describes as a “logistics cluster” are applying lessons learned in earlier disasters including the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

In Nepal’s case, the U.N.’s World Food Program actually had supplies stored at Katmandu and a response plan in place, believing that an earthquake was likely in light of the region’s particular geology.
Katmandu is the only airport in the country that can handle the larger aircraft needed by relief groups. But there are strict weight restrictions on aircraft landing at the airport because the capital’s 4,600-foot elevation and relatively short runway make landings difficult. The 6,600-foot runway was damaged in the earthquake but has since reopened.

The airport has been choked by an influx of supplies this week, in part because workers there didn’t have enough of the heavy equipment needed to efficiently handle large quantities of food, blankets and medical material arriving with relief workers.

“In the early days, one of the challenges is the congestion at the airport,” Mr. Marianelli said in a telephone interview. “There is not enough apron space. We are trying to make sure that material can be efficiently managed, and at the same time we are bringing up the optimization in flights, trying to get more flights through the airport. We call it a slot system, and we try to ensure the flights with the most urgently required supplies are prioritized.”
The W.F.P. is trying to identify a second “strategic entry point” to the region, so relief groups can use smaller cargo aircraft and fly in more frequently, he said. The group will then set up a “land bridge” to connect the airport to Nepal through a type of trans-shipment center familiar to cargo companies. Incoming shipments can be sent to that hub and shifted between trucks heading to different destinations.

One such airport could be Lucknow, in Northern India. It’s hundreds of miles via rough terrain from Katmandu and, Mr. Marianelli said, “That is the challenge.”

“We have tested two roads and they are okay. But that will take much longer and then, you know, it is still raining and so we face landslides,” he said.

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