Sunday, December 25, 2011

I apologize for not posting more here.

I will post more. I write my thoughts in my moleskine these days; blame it on an analog youth, but I love the feel of pen and paper. I'll relay more of those scribblings here, y'all have my word.

For tonight, g'night

Christmas morning, Lord, and 12:01 am
and my grudging heart supplicates to be made a bit softer.
All this worldly care!
these wrappings of things so giftly
and not a thing among them
gold or
frankincense or
Bald books, and toys, and socks and things
all none which I'd take with me were I to die:
(on that journey, only kept are time and love and learning)
Whyso does Christmas feel so like striving?
Why a struggle and not filled with peace?
Grant me peace Lord
as the centering turn of a still cool night
ripost my struggle to
the repose of a child, sweet breath of the innocent.
Please bear from me these feelings selfish and
prick my mind in remembrance of You crucifed.
Further, to look for those so presently trussed
(if bound in such way by others or self doing; no matter),
let me be one who remembers Thy admonition:
'Behold thy mother!'
let them into my heart, my truest home
my considerations of them as I'd consider me, or mine own.
Unhood mine eyes to see them as Thou would
for Thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever.


Monday, October 31, 2011


Originally submitted at Johnston & Murphy

Essential for protecting your footwear investment. Leather Balm cleans shoes before polishing.

Best Ever

By shoe eohs from St Louis, MO on 10/31/2011


5out of 5

Pros: Extends Shoe Life, Easy To Use

Best Uses: Regular Maintenance

Describe Yourself: Conservative

I was convinced of this product while shopping in Park City back in 1999. I had some J&M shoes and was in the store there looking when the salesperson brought up the balm--he actually poured a bit out and rubbed it on his hands as lotion! Funny bit that, but it's stuck with me, and the balm has been a staple since then in the household. If you've been looking for a good leather conditioning cream, look no further. Buy, apply, repeat. 'Tween the balm and shoetrees/allowing the shoes to rest 24 hours between wearing will maximize the life of your shoes.



Originally submitted at Johnston & Murphy

Crafted of supple full-grain leather with super-soft sheepskin lining for a comfortable fit and feel. Multi-layered sheepskin footbed, padded tongue and collar offer cushioned comfort. Molded latex rubber sole for flexibility.


By shoe eohs from St Louis, MO on 10/31/2011


5out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Comfortable, Attractive Design, Durable, Flexible

Best Uses: Wear To Work

Describe Yourself: Comfort Driven

I have been wearing J&M for about 15 years now, class-act company, good prices, excellent value. Get a set of their shoe trees, allow your shoes to rest 24 hours between wearing,(rotate them), hit them up with some of the leather balm as needed and you'll get a decade out of them. Has worked for me.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

I am exploring a job position with NetApp Sales in the Midwest (Missouri). I've had two interviews and expect a half-dozen more before the process is complete. I could wax on about my feelings, the highs and lows I have felt while consideering variables like a higher wage, moving my wife and kids 22 hours away, relocating away from both Melissa's and my families. I am not going to wax on about the strange emotional roller coaster. Let it suffice that there have been some sleepless nights while we are considering our options.

We are praying a lot, and ask that you do the same for us. With the state of the economy, the idea of moving out of our support net is a bit spooky. I believe God will guide all of us if we will allow Him room to do so. I am not the most religious person ever, but I do believe God loves me, and wants me to be happy. :)

The other considerations I have been making are about the nature of work, and how it relates to me, how it intertwines with my own cultural views. So allow me to post a few points which matter to me:

-My work needs to be meaningful.
-My work must fill a commercial need, and my efforts must be noticed.
-I need to be a contributing member of a team.
-The team which I am part of must have a corporate philosophy of corroboration.
-My family and I must prosper.
-Live where I work/minimal travel. I will see my children grow up.

Regardless of where I end up, I am thankful to be working. Lots of folks have been unemployed for months and months, and have given up hope. I hope our country can dig itself out of the hole we're all in, and I am very glad to be currently employed.


Monday, August 08, 2011

I love the sentiment of "Scotland Forever" (Alba gu brath) and feel the pull of my family's ancestry. I honor that Scottish heritage from where I've come.

In trying to conjugate the proper phrasing for an "America Forever" I cobbled this together. Please let me know if this is correct or if it needs to be changed a wee bit:

Aimeireaga gu brath

Thanks in advance. I could find nada on the internet with this phrase.


Friday, July 22, 2011

I submitted this article earlier in the week to Survivalblog and Mr. Rawles chose it for a published post. Woo-hoo!

Here is a copy of the article I sent in:

"Mr. Rawles,
In light of the several articles the last few days on bicycles, I’d like to suggest a few handy tips I have found for those folks looking to get into it for free or very low cost. I pair this consideration with a few choice images of the subway shutdown in New York a few years ago (December 20th 2005). An image of a man painfully perched on his daughter’s pink streamer bike riding to work in his three piece business suit was burned forever in my brain and reinforced the need for having cheap reliable transportation. My article is on how to get into it on the cheap.

Bicycles are a superb mode of transportation, and in an emergency situation they really should be a leveraged option in your survival tool belt—if my article can convince you of this, I believe you’ll realize that it sure beats walking!

My wife and I are big yard sale attendees. Yard sales are the gold mine of bike scrounging. I have been given bicycles by folks who had previously removed and sold a part or two from the bike to another buyer. It is easy to replace those parts with little out-of-pocket expense. One time I acquired a Japanese ‘gas pipe’ bike (a Shogun), named such parlance because the frame is non-buted (buting is where the walls of the bike frame are tapered thinner in the middle and thicker at the ends to save weight and increase strength), and if one were to cut the frame in half, cut a bit of old gas pipe in half, then held them end-to-end, they’d look the same. I got that bike for free because it was missing a seat post—the lady at the yard sale was almost apologetic about the bike when I asked about it and she was happy I saved her a trip to the dump. I spent some time and built it into a single speed rig some eight years ago. It is very low-maintenance, has 3M reflective tape across all the various tubing for night safety, fenders for inclement weather, and about a snowball’s chance of ever getting stolen. I love its simplicity and usefulness. I love that I got it for next to nothing (I did later upgrade parts on it, simply due to preference), and I appreciate its simplicity.

Don’t get me wrong here, the wunderbikes they ride in the pros like you see on the Tour de France are engineering marvels. I choose cruddy bikes instead. I used to own a very nice Specialized S-Works Enduro. (Remind me sometime to tell you about the time I showed up on the doorstep of the house ten years ago with that bike. My Memsahib certainly clarified a few points regarding what constituted proper purchases to my newlywed brain on that day.) That bike had all the bells and whistles, but I sold it. I have since awoken to the fact that I can create something with my hands, on the cheap, that I truly am passionate about. I love cheap bikes.

As I previously mentioned, yard sales are very good for picking up old bikes for next to nothing. Most just need a few parts tightened and oiled, the tubes inflated and they are good to go. I have picked up several Specialized and Trek rigs for under $20 which just needed a good washing (use Simple Green degreaser) and some oil on the chain and derailleurs. I make it a point to always ask about certain things at yard sales, and for some odd reason, old bikes are things folks seem to be ashamed of. I am unsure why this is. Old tools go for a fair bit, and old guns too—bikes go for a song.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Sheldon Brown, the king of Internet bicycle retrofitting. His web site is pretty old school (read: simple early 1990s graphics, et cetera) but it really has a ton of helpful information. Have an old odd duck French bike? He has info on it. is his reference library, and it has helped me with plans several times. It is a great resource.

My friends know I am into fixing up old bikes. I’ve traded odd jobs for bikes and bike parts, I’ve done side jobs repairing bikes for people, and my buddies always tell me when they find a deal. Networking about interests will always lead you some interesting contacts. I also believe that God knows us, and if we’ll talk to Him, he will place opportunities in our path. Ask Him to open your eyes, and when the opportunity comes along, take it, and remember to say a prayer of thanks.

I regularly visit the bike shops in my area and try to send business their way. They are helpful in figuring out stuff I am stumped with, and their advice is always free. I have found that kindness gets me a long way (as a general rule, but especially in bike shops); bicycle mechanics will almost always spend a few moments to chat with you about your project. Methinks they find a kindred soul in someone who refurbishes decrepit bikes. The other nice thing about the shop is they usually have a parts bin (read: used take-offs, parts, mostly nothing new or matching) you can poke around in. I always offer money for any parts bin stuff which I find that fit, but I have yet to pay for any of my scrounging.

Another option, somewhat controversial is dumpster diving. Now, before you write it off as an impossibility, it does work. I realize that some states may have ordinances against finding treasures in the trash pile, but I have buddies who have found entire bikes and some very usable parts checking the trash behind their local bike shops. [JWR Adds: Only dumpster dive with permission, and in accordance with state and local laws.]

Now, as to tools, you can pick up a pretty decent Chinese made repair kit off eBay or Amazon for about $130. I got one for Christmas near a decade ago. True, it isn’t as beautiful as a set of blue handled Park Tools, but I have yet to wear out any of my gear. I got a bottom bracket tool, a crank puller, hex wrenches, cone wrenches, chain whip and freewheel/lockring wrench, spoke wrenches, and a bunch of other bike tool stuff. Some of the specialty tools can be bought separately; the more general tools you may already have. My kit has really only let me down thus far on an old 27” (read: pre 700 CC modern road/29” mountain) wheel set—I did not have the right 3-splined tool to take off the screw on freewheel, and I needed a BMX style freewheel mounted. The old stuff requires older tools; standards back in the day were not necessarily adopted across the various manufacturers like they are today. Sometimes it is worth the shop fixing it for you rather than buying a tool you may not ever use again.

My final suggestion is a bike helmet. I know they are not ‘cool’ or hip. I also know most of us of the prepper mentality would not think of ourselves as either of those descriptions. I can tell you I have crashed several times in the past thirty years and each time I was wearing a brain bucket I was grateful I had head protection. Keep your brain safe!

Now, keep in mind, these tips are for the shade tree bike mechanic. I welcome feedback on this from the fine folks who make a living turning a wrench on bicycles—I am always learning and am passionate about making cruddy old bikes into something beautiful and functional. Hopefully you folks can take something from my thoughts here today and add another option to your survival tool belt. Bikes are not just for kids, nor do they have to just be a survival thing you never use. Google Albert Einstein on a bicycle sometime if you need a smile (the picture always elicits a grin from me). Get a bike, ride with your family—you will not regret it.

God Bless you, Avalanche Lily and the kids, - Jay in Utah"

I haven't written much of anything in the last few months. Wrote this on Wednesday and it felt great to be writing again, even for something as simple as this. As my 10th grade English teacher Mrs. Wallace used to say I "wrote about something I was passionate about".

Enjoy the read, and let me know what you think?

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I'm comfortable in my own skin
as if I've come to some place
where painstaking pieces
fin'lly look more than bits of sky, and earth;
and this new illustration
is epoch, is salve,
and stepping into an age portends significance.

These hands, these feet, these eyes
the one hath need of the other
each cudgel'd.
none shall be cut off
all are me
I am not ashamed

Today I am aware of my whole
not hands, or feet, or eyes
no integuments scatter'd
some flipped to show cardboard backing
I'm now entire
plenary pieces
and shame banished

-JRB 5/21/2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011


I saw six kids tonight
aged just slightly more than children
standing in line at the Krispy Kreme
their teen babyfaces shining at the prospect
of free donuts for 'A's' on their report cards.
Oh God, was I ever so young?
one so hairless and smooth cheeked?
'Times I feel like I am twice my age
not just flirting with thirty-three.
not one who's p'rhaps third-to-half already spent his life
(as the statisticians would suggest).
With the way that time flashes by
no sanguine stroll in it's Sunday best
But gasping as't furiously sprints past
in numbing, hard to believe,
four-minute-mile sort of pace;
soon my own children, boys and girl
will be standing expectantly in line somewhere
chatting happily with their own dates
young teens, the world their oyster.
Oblivious to the middle aged man behind them
who took such note of their naivete
(with a pensive half-hid smile).
Life and time is one Round
a wheel
and after we fritter our stay living in t'ht circle
another carries it forward
another unborn child, the zygotes of zygotes;
a part of that thanatopsis
all of us each in turn
on or one sweet roll.