Monday, 5 November 2012

Bushcrafting: Man Bag/Haversack

As much as the "European man bag" is getting mocked these days, it is still very trendy and not a new idea.  Haversacks have been around since man first started to travel. Old army surplus gas mask bags are much prized by young adults in Great Britain right now and of course, the bushcrafting crowd all over.   Hey, even Harrison Ford's character, "Indiana Jones", carries a British Mark VII gas mask bag as part of his adventure kit.

Surplus Finnish gas mask mask bags are easier to find, less expensive, and just a little larger in carrying capacity.  The other thing which makes these bags so popular is that they are so easy to personalize or accessorize.

I decided that it might be a nice project to fix one of these bags up for myself.  The haversack would make a nice addition to my canvas and leather Frost River backpack and the rustic style would make the two very complementary.  I could also use this bag on its own as a daypack for bushcrafting trips or, yes, even as a man bag.

 So I purchased one from a surplus store online because I could not find one locally, shopped around for some leather and brass parts, and ordered a shoulder pad for the strap from Maxpedition.  I had to have some straps removed and new loops sewn in their place.

 Finally, I attached a leather "Navigator Pouch", made by leather artisan and very talented knife maker, Cody of  Adventure Sworn.

 My coworkers are always very curious about my little crafting projects and they really liked this bag.  One asked if I could make them one in pink!  For now, I think I'll just take mine out and enjoy it regardless of the "man bag" stigma.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Vaccinate Debate

This is the season where people go and get their flu shots.  It always brings up contentious discussion over the efficacy of vaccinations..  Normally I don't have a big problem if someone decides that immunizing themselves is not for them as long as they have done their due diligence when deciding.  I wish they would reconsider but it's ultimately their decision.

What really irritates me is all the people who spread misinformation about what is in these vaccinations and how they work.  Lately I dropped two of the support groups for my vasculitis because it is filled with such people.  I have heard everything from the flu shot contains live viruses so you could become a "Typhoid Mary" type of carrier or that the flu shot contains tracking devices put there by the "government".  I have read from some posters in these support groups encouraging people not to take any vaccinations which is in direct contravention to the medical advice given by the Vasculitis Foundation of Canada, the Johns Hopkins Vasculitis Center, and even my own well respected  rheumatologist.  The wrong information being spread by people, no matter how well intended, can have disastrous results on people who are already chronically ill, immunosuppressed, and gullible enough to believe it.

As a medical professional I am concerned when I see the number of people stricken with whooping cough(Pertussis) reaching epidemic levels.  This is all because misinformed parents refuse to get their kids vaccinated with the DPT shot.  Pertussis is otherwise highly contagious.   It is also alarming to see the resurgence of Polio, a disease that was thought to be almost completely wiped out because of a worldwide successful vaccination program.  Then there were all the highly publicized claims about the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) causing autism that were later proven to be fraudulent only last year.  The list goes on for the non-science based witch hunt on vaccines and people are getting sick as a result.

 Yes indeed vaccinations can have unpleasant side effects such as fever, chills, allergic reactions, or soreness in the spot where the shot was given.  In some cases the side-effects can be worse but the incidence is much lower than the possible bad effects of the original diseases.

On a personal level, I almost died from the Swine Flu (H1N1) in the Fall of 2009 because I didn't get vaccinated in time.  As a medical person who is exposed to sick people and as a person who is immunosuppressed, there was a rush to get my shot but I had already been exposed to the disease by the time I received it.  I ended up in the hospital as a patient in isolation and very sick.  I never miss getting my flu shot and as early as I possibly can now.

 Bottom line is I don't want to be sick nor do I want to make anyone else sick.  Getting a simple vaccination can prevent it.