Engineer & Entertain

Ideas I grapple with

Band Names of 2018

2018 was a weird, wild ride. Don’t let that stop you from starting a band, taking over the world with music, and remembering me in your Grammy award speech. Here are the band names of 2018.

  • Party Cheese
  • Slimer Vibes
  • Meat Leg
  • Bottom Can Jockets
  • Communist Donut
  • Smashed Porcelin
  • Two Guys, A Girl, And A Pizza Place

Lovely day for a Guinness stove

You woke up early, laced your boots, scrambled up to the top of a mountain so you can see the sun rise. What could make this event better? Your favorite, legal stimulant – coffee.

There are many camp stoves on the market to heat the water for your coffee, but my favorite is made from an aluminum can. The entire thing is made from one can and can be built with nothing more than a Swiss Army Knife. It burns cheap, readily available fuel (ethanol).

I learned how to make one from Tom Allen’s video.

Here are photos from my build.


You could use any can opener or the tip of your knife.


A razor blade screwed into a 2×4 provided a consistent height cutting jig. The can was rotated against the blade to repeatedly score it. Eventually, the can was pierced and came apart evenly at the score.



With the top and bottom cut, I used the leftover middle portion to make a wind screen. I cut it from top to bottom to open it up.


The blade of a pocket knife was used to create vents in the top of the can. The blade is pressed in and rocked lower. Vents are made all along the can.


The end result of the vents along the can is making this crinkle cookie cutter shape. The top is then inserted into the bottom.


Use an awl, push pin, or the tip of your knife to make a small hole toward the top of the can. Once you feel the tip of the awl punch through the can, the hole is big enough.


Add fuel, about an ounce of Heet, light it on fire, let the flame spread around the can, and then place your water on top. In a few minutes you’ll have boiling water for your coffee and sunrise.


Santa Ruck AAR 2: Yippie Ki Yay All Over Again

I had the honor and pleasure of doing a Santa Ruck on my birthday. I was able to convince some friends from college that a GORUCK event is a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday. It was the fifth Santa Ruck in Indianapolis, my second one, and the first one for my friends. For one of my friends it was his first GORUCK event.

The event is a family friendly Light (children complete the event) and it raises money and donations for Riley Children’s Hospital. Our donations were loaded into a large sleigh after we checked in. The sleigh carries all of the donations and is the most joyous coupon I have ever observed. There are tinier sleds which the children tend to ride in (occasionally the cadre), candy cane slosh pipes, sandbag reindeer, and other festive loads.

The cadre, clad in Grinch clothing and costumes, barked for us to form five lines in thirty seconds. We went too slow and were then instructed to be on our bellies, our feet, our backs, roll left, roll right in rapid fire, random sequences.

Having rolled every which way, but loose, we went to a field for more fun and games. We had to move marshmallows across the field by carrying it in our mouth with a partner moving us like a wheelbarrow. Those familiar with GORUCK knows that it pays to be a winner; the winning team received coal. A bag of charcoal briquettes to carry.

After a game of egg toss, we formed up and rucked the sleigh, sleds, and other festive gear to Riley. Arriving at Riley, we sorted the donations. Then a mom was brave enough to share her story about her child being born early and with mosaic trisomy 9.

We rucked back to the field where we started and broke into groups again. We played musical chairs, but with rucks. When the music stopped, grab a ruck or you are out. Those who lost were led in PT by Doug Schwerin, selection finisher. His roster number was 11. Guess how many reps he had us do for each exercise? After some more PT, we formed up, heard some parting words, and received patches and cookies.
The weather was pleasant enough. The temperature was 25-30*F with a gentle breeze which was 6-10 mph. My friends and I were cold standing around before the event, but once we got moving we were more than warm. My layering choices are listed below and I feel pretty confident about them for an outdoor event. I am still unsure how I would do if I had to get into a body of water for a winter event though.
The relationships at the event are wonderful. Team Ninja runs this event and they have the process dialed in. Everyone did a great job at calling out their needs and people readily rotated in on coupons. The relationship formed with Riley Children’s Hospital is simply awesome. I am incredibly grateful for my friends who joined me. Hey guys, are you free around the same time next year?
I wore:

GORUCK Expedition 6 & 12

img_3683In the middle of July I completed GORUCK Expedition 6 & 12. The expedition events are my 8th and 9th events respectively. I have completed Jedburgh and Constellation (before the 6/12 split) with the rest of my events being Lights and Challenges. The expedition events are aimed at practicing navigation and bushcraft. I have a fair amount of outdoor experience, but found the expedition courses worthwhile as it gave me a controlled environment to practice skills before I need them.

In the 6 hour we learned to read terrain, use a map and compass, make fishing drop lines, and reviewed first aid kits, tourniquets, and moving casualties. The 12 hour added pacing/step count, UTM plotter work with the map & compass, fire making, additional wilderness medicine, rope work, field expedient weapons, and shelter making.


I never got lost. I always knew I was in a forest.

The particulars of the skills you learn and practice will vary from site to site and cadre to cadre. There’s no way we were going to practice snow shelters in middle of summer in Indiana. As a result there will be some items on the packing list that you will not use. Moreover, there will be some items that you wish you had e.g. combustion tools and containers to boil water in. I assume the inefficiencies of the packing list are intentional to get us to consider scavenging for resources. We used glass bottles to boil water in. I had a lighter saving us from rubbing two sticks together or some such.

The weather was exceptionally hot and humid as Indiana is wont to be. I found the heat and humidity most unbearable though in the evening.  The GORUCK website stated food and comfort items were not permitted at the 12 hour event. Following the the GRT philosophy of, “If you ain’t cheatin’, then you ain’t tryin'”, I decided I would sneak some food in. Turns out, the cadre allowed us to have food. We learned this fact well into the event when they had us hold position after a strenuous movement and encouraged us to eat. I wish I would have brought my typical allotment of food as I was suffering something fierce toward the end of the event. I was exceptionally hot and nauseated and did not think clearly as a result. I needed calories to help thermoregulate and provide fuel for my brain. I certainly did not like the way I felt and I did not like that I was not nearly as helpful as I could have been for my team. I became more of a liability than asset.

The team I was a part of in the 6 hour event was stellar. We clicked right away and were able to problem solve. 5 of 6 were returning for the 12 hour event. In the 12 hour I was still able to be a part of the team with three of people who were at the 6. While I feel bad for being a liability for part of the event I do know that I contributed and I hope that balances out. dsc010311When we began 12, the cadre had us running through the woods before we could get organized in any meaningful way. Upon arrival at our destination, the cadre asked if we were all accounted for. We were. I had made it a point to count every person just in case.

During large group movements we got lost or disoriented a few times. None the less, the leaders and team mates always maintained high spirits. This is really the core of Expedition: Maintain a positive mental attitude and practice your skills before you need them.  My personal takeaway from the event is that I need to make myself more resilient to the heat. I’m going to go and get fat now.


Smiles for miles!



img_3482At the end of June/beginning of July I had the pleasure to take a course with Roy Underhill and Bill Anderson at the Woodwright’s School. This my fourth course at the school and every last one of them has been worth more than I paid. The instruction received is second to none.

Over the five day course you build a toolbox which is about 16″ long x 14″ tall and 12″ wide and it’s held together with dovetails, mortise & tenons, tongue & grooves, cut nails, and hide glue. When the class is complete you will have to do some finishing at home namely outfit the box with hardware (hinges, straps, locks) and apply a finish (paint, oil, etc).img_3511

On the first day we made a practice joint. Each person was provided some scrap wood and told to make whatever type of joint we wanted. I opted for a half lap as I have not cut many (any?) half laps by hand. We reviewed what we did and why and how we could it better. Next we learned how to layout and cut dovetails and then did so in the carcass of our box.


Lapping it up

On the second day we cut our pins to match the tails and glued up the carcass at the end of the day using hide glue. I stood my carcass boards up so I could see the layout in 3-D. In the course of sawing, my bench wiggled, shimmied, and vibrated until the back panel fell off the bench. It split in half as a result of the sudden stop at the end of the fall. Thankfully it could be epoxied together, but the whole thing could have been avoided if I left the boards flat, in a stable state.


Kintsugi, but instead of binding with gold, bind with epoxy.

The malodorous rendered smell of hide glue made me think of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. Moreover it has a short work time and must be kept warm lest it set up like Jell-O. The beauty of hide glue is that it can be heated and a joint separated. Of course if you do it right the first time, then you don’t have to do it a second time and you can use PVA glue.

My dovetails were too proud so I found myself spending the third morning slicing them away with a chisel. A block plane would have taken too long and a jack plane would have left them ragged. Slice. Slice. Slice. We then used molding planes to make a skirt for the box.

The fourth day had us mitering and gluing our modeling in place. While no one cut dovetail pins facing opposite directions, someone did cut their miters backwards (the decorative molding would have to be against the box for the mitered edges to fit). It’s a common and easy mistake to make. We began cutting our tenons and chopping our mortises during the afternoon. My first tenon was perfect and then I went steadily downhill. It can always be worse. My last tenon was . . . well ugly is such an ugly word. My last tenon was not being asked to prom. Therefore I had to cut two new tenons because the last one was attached to the penultimate one.


People have a variety of ways to cope – exercise, alcohol, meditation. I prefer to use a saw.

The fifth and final day had a lot of little things for us to complete. I had to recut a tenon. We all had to finish our mortises. On the plus side, we were allowed to use a Barnes mortising machine for our last tenon. This thing is a joy to use and I am honestly surprised that it is not still in production. It is faster and quieter than chiseling out a mortise and incredibly accurate. I would put a nickel down that it would cut a mortise as fast as an electric hollow chisel mortiser.

With stiles and rails mortised and tenoned we could cut a groove into the panel so we wouldn’t be topless. The panels were razed to make them raised panels. We did not use a panel raising plane, but rather placed bevels on it with a smoothing plane or block plane.

I used cut nails for the first time as well. They were used to attach our tongue and grooved bottoms to the carcass of the box. I have no intention of using temperamental hide glue again, but cut nails may come up in my future. The wedging action joins wood securely and I have no fear they will be come loose like modern day cylindrical nails.

The final day also included us attaching the mitered drip molding to the lid of the tool box. Should I ever leave it outside, I need not fear the rain.

In between lessons we were able to go up to Ed’s shop above the school. It is like a museum with price tags. Want a Stanley number 48 tongue and groove match plane? There’s two on the shelf. Want a full set of hollows and rounds? There’s a few of ’em. Want a mattock? Take your pick. The prices are fair and the tools are in excellent condition to be used on your next project.

I’m straining to think of anything I disliked or would improve aside from my own skill set. We ate at some restaurants more than once, but that’s no fault of the school. You can only work with what you have. There was not a single lesson I would want to move or change around. There are times we could have accomplished more in the day, but we (students and instructors) would have certainly felt rushed.

My main takeaways from the week

  • I need to make five more boxes. My first one is fine to use; however, the lessons learned are perishable skills.
  • I need to be less proud in my dovetails
  • Bill taught me to saw the air first and let the saw slowly descend to touch the wood. That made a world of difference in my saw doing the work and not me.
  • I remained organized and clean through the work. This insure that I never confused a board for another, mixed up orientation, or made other simple mistakes.
  • Roy also taught us all how to twang a saw. That was worth the price of admission

During a popsicle break Bill had me share trick. The exasperated face on Roy is because the trick is a long build for a terrible pun.

Band names of 2017

Last year you said you were going to start a band, but then 2017 turned out to be, ughh, different. But this, this is the year. Here are the new band names people will be chanting at concerts, riots, and while solving the world’s problems in their parents’ basement.

  • A gun and a scalpel
  • Anonymous Narwhal
  • Whack-A-Mole Deathmatch
  • The Saddest Whale
  • Gross Maraschino Poison
  • Ceremonial Spoons
  • Pizza loving dick vessel
  • Happy little screamer
  • The Ladies
  • Awkward Unicyclist
  • Two guys, a girl, and a pizza place

Santa Ruck AAR

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of completing a family friendly GORUCK Light which raised money and supplies for Riley Children’s Hospital. The event is called SantaRuck which was created by Team Ninja. The TL;DR is that you should do this event next year because it is fun and for the kids.

Team Ninja ran the check in process and GRTs received a swag bag with buffs, stickers, name patch, and most importantly, hand warmers. The hand warmers went straight into my gloves and lasted the length of the event and then some. I loved the inclusion of a name patch in the swag bag. I will be using a name patch at future events because it made it easy to call out and communicate to other GRTs.


With our rucks on our fronts to look like fat snowmen, Cadre Heath and I then sumoed because we’re warrior snowmen. He won, BTW.

With four cadre, the welcome party was chaotic to say the least. Cadre had us running all over the field in front of Riley. Quick commands were yelled to do one thing only to have it changed a split second later.

On your feet! On your backs! Rucks overhead! Rucks on the front! Flutter kick! Beat your face! All children off the ground! Put those children down, you don’t know where they’ve been!

We did some log PT during the welcome party with candy canes – PVC pipes with a red stripe filled with concrete. A nice touch was that there was an empty PVC pipe for the children to lift. Cadre thought of everything.

We also played musical rucks. When the music stopped, we had to grab a ruck. The odd man out went to the loser pit where we did PT. We did PT until 80+ of us were whittled down to 2. 2 go in, 1 comes out.

After the welcome party, we took the sleigh, filled with our donations, into the hospital. We separate the donations into the appropriate bins and then heard from a physician. He stated the procedures have changed over the years, but what has not changed is how to care for and support a Riley family.

A rolling blue tooth speaker provided Christmas carols as we rucked from the hospital to a park while carrying a sleigh and sleds filled with children. The sleds were led by reindeer (sandbags with antlers).


“Santa Selfie” would be yelled and we had to take a photo and post it on the Tough Facebook page

At the park we had a circus. Children called out an animal and the adults had to do PT based on the animal. There were bear crawls, leap frogs, and duck walks. Due to my quacking and flapping, Cadre Heath complimented me on my duck walk, so now that’s on my resume.

We received gingerbread cookies in the shape of spearheads and then rucked back to the hospital. We sang some Christmas carols and then received our patches.


Of note

  • I brought spare clothing with me to change into after the event, but it went unused. I would still do this next year or for any other cold weather event.
  • I need to refine my cold weather clothing. There was no snow on the ground, but it was cold and there was a constant, biting wind. We never got wet, so I am not sure how quickly my clothing would dry out and how warm I would remain. With children, our pace was slower than usual. If we had time hacks and had to keep a faster pace I suspect I would have overheated given my clothing choices.I wore
    • Merrell Chameleon 7 Mid
    • Darn Tough Wool Socks
    • Thermals aka long underwear
    • Running pants
    • Long sleeved tough shirt
    • Outdoor Research Centrifuge jacket
    • Patagona nanopuff jacket
    • Waterproof ski gloves
    • Buff
  • I would certainly do another event with Cadre Heath. Granted this was a family friendly Light, he was delightful, energetic and kept the event fun and chaotic.
  • The relationship formed between Team Ninja and Riley Children’s Hospital is awesome.
  • Every one kept a positive mental attitude and had fun the whole time. Everyone was having fun, so the event was fun. Since the event was fun, everyone was having fun. It’s a vicious cycle, but with conviviality. It’s a convivial cycle.
  • One Take Away: “You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realize this and you will find strength”. I cannot control what the Cadre will do or what circus animals the kids will call out, but I can be happy while doing bear crawls. I cannot control if a child is born prematurely, but I can be a positive, hard-working member of a team that treats the child and fights the fight.

Love me tinder, love me true

My wife went out of town three weeks ago, so guess who got a Tinder account? Our greyhound, Cesium.

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His bio 

I hope my forwardness does not give you paws, but I am into heavy petting. Life’s ruff so I am not going to hound you, but you would be barking mad to not swipe right. So, what do you say? Want to find out who is a good boy?

To date he has 24 matches and seems to be doing well for himself.

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Most of the women seem to think he is a good boy.

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He has met a lot of women, but has acquired no bitches.

Happy birthday, Flo!

With full knowledge of the responsibilities I am undertaking,

I pledge to care for my patients with all of the knowledge, skills, and understanding that I possess, without regard to race, color, creed, politics, or social status.

I will spare no effort to conserve meaningful life, to alleviate suffering, and to promote health.

I will refrain from any action which might be harmful to the quality of life or health for those I care for.

I will respect, at all times, the dignity and religious beliefs of patients under my care, and hold in professional confidence all the personal information entrusted to me.

I will endeavor to keep my professional knowledge and skills at the highest level and give my support and cooperation to all members of the healthcare team.

With full awareness of my qualifications and limitations, will do my utmost to maximize the potential of the nursing profession and to uphold and advance its standards.

NPG x82368; Florence Nightingale by Henry Hering, copied by  Elliott & Fry

Happy birthday, Ms. Nightingale and Happy Nurse’s Week!

Band Names of 2016

Last year I posted the band names I derived in 2015. If you resolution hasn’t changed and you still want to learn to play guitar, form a band, rise to fame, do coke off a hooker’s ass, trash a hotel room, fall from fame, and make a comeback, then here are the band names of 2016.

  • Part Time Varsity
  • Strippers & Cake
  • Periwinkle Jimmies
  • The Lonely Sandwich
  • Chasing babies
  • Battery Eating MoFo
  • Napoleon’s Nightcap
  • Two guys, a girl, and a pizza place

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