The inaugural fundraiser to help the MPN Research Foundation.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

It's Over Now...

Well, almost. I'm starting the drawings.

I have contacted the first place winner via the email address I was given. I will give that person 48 hours to contact me and let me know which prize package they wish. If they haven't contacted me in that time, I will award them the default first place package.

I will then draw the second place winner, and so on.

Congratulations to Michelle G. for winning first place!

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I have notified the second place winner, and they have 48 hours to contact me and claim their prize.



Congratulations to Steve Shafley for winning second place!

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Congratulations to Josh Lochner on winning the 3rd place prize package! The WorkSharp powered sharpening system is really a great sharpener; I use it on kitchen knives and other knives that don't require precision or that require a lot of stock removal. 


T-Shirts: the shirts are ordered. I expect to have them within a couple weeks, and then I have to re-mail them to all participants. I'm investigating the least expensive way for me to do this without having a car.


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I have notified the fourth place winner, and they have 48 hours to contact me and claim their prize. Dave Denny has won the fourth place package, and his support of this cause was greatly appreciated.

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I have notified the fifth place winner, and am waiting for a reply. Once I have that reply, I will draw the winner of the bonus round.




Congratulations to David Miller for winning fifth place!

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The WorkSharp manual system is really a great sharpener. It is a superb first "serious" sharpener for the beginner: it teaches fundamental skills of sharpening - for instance, the importance of holding a consistent angle. Combine the stock system with the diamond stone upgrades, and you have a capable sharpener for all your knives.

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I am now drawing the winner for a quite special package. This package was donated to the fundraiser at the last minute, as soon as the gentlemen in question learned I was holding the fundraiser.

Nick Shabazz, that random jackass on YouTube*, donated a review sample of a Kizer Feist. This gentleman's front flipper, a Justin Lundquist design, is beautifully executed in an understated fashion. Not big, not gaudy, a perfect EDC for the busy executive. Nothing is skimped in terms of quality: the blade is a stonewashed S35VN, which will take and hold an edge quite nicely.

Gray titanium handles, nicely smoothed and curving with no sharp edges insure that holding and working with this knife is a joy. The framelock is solid; in a move Nick has to love, the pocket clip is an aesthetic win - heck, even the screws are designed with aesthetics in mind.

The other quite special blade in this package is a different emphasis altogether: donated by Andy Richardson, the Kershaw Link, with a largely red handle (one of the official colors of myelofibrosis) is a larger knife, more heavy duty. It also has an S35VN blade, but this one has a blackwash finish, and is large and sculpted.

Designed as a salute to America, the red, white, and blue elements work together nicely in this assisted liner lock.

Monday, June 12, 2017

How to get a ticket

Reserving a Ticket

Follow these steps to reserve your ticket:

1. Fill out the reservation form, by clicking on the URL to Reserve a Ticket 
2. Make a donation to GoFundMe. The url is https://gofundme.com/bladesagainstmpns
3. If you have any problems, notify strongmanbob@gmail.com
4. You will receive an email from strongmanbob@gmail.com with your ticket number. The wait time for this will vary depending on a number of factors.
5. That's it!
6. When we have a drawing, we will let you know via email. The drawing is set for 7/5.

Here is a picture of the knives we will be giving away:



Note: this does not include the knife being donated by Nick Shabazz; we also have another knife on the way, being donated by a gentleman to help us out. More details on that to follow.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

New Prize Package!

If you watch Nick Shabazz's Youtube channel, this is probably not news: yesterday, June 7, Nick did a quick "shout-out" piece on this fundraiser. I spoke with Nick yesterday afternoon, and I did my best to fill him in on the MPN Research Foundation; on the goals of the fundraiser, and finally we talked for a bit about zombies.

The video can be seen here. It's a quick overview of what I'm trying to do with this fundraiser, and why.

Nick also happened to have a new knife in for review. As he mentions in the video, typically when he is done reviewing the knife, he bags it up, sells it, and donates the proceeds to a charity. In this case, he is giving the knife to the fundraiser.

It is a Kizer Feist, and we will have it prior to the end of donations. I thought about how to award this, and decided that it was something special: after all, Nick went out of his way to give us a shout-out, and his YouTube channel is for everybody. That means, in my mind, that everybody should have a chance to win his donation.

So, here's the deal. After I award the five prize packages already set up, I'm going to assign a number which is in the range of ticket numbers to the knife. I will then use the random generator at random.org to pick one number in the range; that number, randomly generated, will be the winner of Nick's prize. 

It doesn't matter if you have won another prize or not. Everybody has an equal chance at winning this. I think that's fair, equitable, and in keeping with the spirit of treating everybody the same, which is one of the unspoken rules of the knife community.

Oh: there will be another knife as part of this. A knife that will leave zombies quivering in their rancid boots.



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mentioned by The MPN Research Foundation

We were mentioned in the 5/10 MPN Foundation Newsletter (Page 2)!

It's always nice to see our efforts recognized. I know that everybody at the Foundation is just swamped with work, and I'm honored that they would take the time to make note of us.



Friday, May 5, 2017

Reasons, Justifications, Excuses, and Hopes from the other side of the fault line

I feel that I must apologize for the last entry made. I found myself distracted by other tasks, shiny things, illusory greener grass - all the normal distractions I must better learn to push away in the hope that I might stay better focused on where I am.

Why do I feel that I must apologize?

Well, first and foremost, I feel that way about everything. My first, strongest impulse about anything is to apologize for it. This is, I believe, driven by the fact that it is my failt. My fault -> I must apologize for it.

Everything is my fault. So, I must apologize for everything.

Why is everything my fault? Think about this: I have cancer. By any sane standard, this is not a good thing. It is, therefore, a bad thing.

Nothing exists in this universe without being determined to fit in, somehow. Unless you believe that we are confronted with a mass chaos of disordered confusion every moment, whcih hardly seems likely. Rather, it would seem to be more accurate to subscribe to the fact that everything is determined.

So, somehow, it was determined that I would have this cancer that will (most likely) cause me great suffering and pain before it kills me; but kill me it will. My body and my mind are broken by the cancer. It is a cancer that is terminal; the only cure, a stem cell transplant, has a high failure rate; I do not qualify (nor do I want) this treatment for a variety of reasons.

The bottom line, then: I have a terminal cancer. When I was first diagnosed, I was give statistical odds of living another 2-3 years, based upon my overall health, my genetics, and the intensity of the disease.

That was at the end of July, 2015. 

Hello, sunshine. It was good to see you. I'll be passing by any day now, I trust I haven't abused you too badly. 

This determination to give me something: I was given something that is not good. So, I was given something bad.

You might look upon this as an active punishment for something I did. You might instead feel that it is more just bad luck. Whatever you call it, however you feel about it, the fact remains: it has been determined that my role in the ordered universe is to get the snot beaten out of me by disease. I am going to be put through the wringer a few times before my death.

Goodbye, snot. I think that the beating is almost over, and that you have been washed down various holes that I have encountered in this tour.

Whether you believe in a supreme being (I do not) or simply a well-ordered universe, I am being punished by something. I am being made to suffer. 

[On a side note: whoever is doing this, you are doing a fine job. My kudos to your handiwork.]

I am being punished, I hope, for a reason. This reason could be any action I took, or any period of inaction in which I did nothing.

In any event, I had best apologize in case this is the thing I did which was my fault.

I'm sorry. That's just the way it is with this cancer. Everything about me is broken. I'm going to die from this cancer; whether directly from the cancer itself, or as I almost did a year ago, from the organic damage caused as a mere side effect, a mere symptom, of the cancer.

I apologize quite frequently these days. I'm sorry for that, too.  It is as though I have crossed a line, a fault line if you like, and fault, flaws, and apologies mean something different to me now than they did before I stepped over that line.

I know, I know. None of this is my fault. None of this can be viewed as punishment. I am not being punished; sometimes, bad things just happen to good people.

I'm sorry, then, that I've offended you.

I'll shut my stupid pie-hole now.

Note: I hope that I've conveyed one large point in this entry, namely that this cancer (and most likely other terminal cancers) put the patient into an apologetic, blameful, and depressed mode. The patient finds him or herself taking blame, apologizing frequently and freely, and hating their body and mind.  I will expand on this in the next entry.

Behind the fundraising curtain

First off: I've decided that I should put together posts for the newsfeed here. Until now, I had consciously decided not to do so; I thought that restricting the news feed to changes in rules, prizes, etc., would be enough. However, I think that I'm seeing enough people hit the page that getting more information to them is worthwhile.

Without further ado then: this post will be largely about me, Bob Wanamaker, who I am, what I do, and about how MPNs have affected my life. In short, a bit of biographical background about the man bringing you this fundraiser. I'm also going to try to sneak in a bit of an argument about the nature of identity here, but I think it will be so stealth you won't know it's happening.

I was first diagnosed in July '15 with myelofibrosis, at the intermediate stage. The classification was made as intermediate based on the regular appearance of the constitutional symptoms, a low hemoglobin count - I was admitted with an HGB of 4 - and my genetics; however, I had no blasts, had (pre-admission) never had a transfusion, and so I was clearly intermediate. 

During that first hospital stay, I was in ICU for 3 days; having an HGB of 4 put me at risk of death from any number of things. I had actually gone to the ER because my heart hurt so badly one afternoon after work that I couldn't take the pain any longer. I had been experiencing this pain, at a lower level, for about 4 weeks. 

One question I get frequently is that, as a lecturer on advanced training and injury, with a high degree of self-awareness, how could I have missed that I had cancer? 

I think I get that question more frequently just from myself than the sum of all others, by the way.

On top of the lowered HGB, I experienced the constitutional symptoms the year or two previous; I had, in 2010, done very well competing in strongman. In 2011, I suffered some torn muscles; in retrospect, they painted a picture of oxygen-depleted muscles, old muscles - stringy, tough, unhealthy old muscles - in addition to carrying a lot of pain in my hips and low back. I talked with a specialist about back surgery; I ended up, to avoid the surgery's dangers, visiting a chiropractor for a type of advanced decompression. 

This decompression helped quite a lot. I remember one of the things he told me: normally, as we age, our discs will age as well; they become dried out, depleted of liquid, oxygen, and nutrients. As they become dried out, they no longer function as well as they should. in fact, they lose nearly all function as "shock absorbers". In the case of injury, this drying out occurs acutely and quickly, and also more completely.

There's that concept of tough, old, stringy, dried-out, raising its head again. One of the functions of the decompression was to reverse this aging of the disc. To that end, it was 8 weeks of drinking a lot of water and watching some key nutritional concepts.

I also suffer from another chronic and sometime terminal disease called diffuse idiopathic skeletal hyperostosis, or DISH. The hallmark of DISH is that all connective tissue turns to bone. As this happens, mobility and range of motion are impacted greatly. In my case, not only are my shoulder blades frozen in an internally rotated position, but a lot of the issues I was fighting at L4-L5-S1 were the result of bone formation on the spine causing nerve impingements; in fact, the nerve impingements were so bad that every doctor I saw was curious as to how I could walk at all, let alone compete.

Additionally, I was anemic - terribly anemic. So I had that going for the muscle tissue as well. Essentially, my blood iron measured zero for years.

Between these nerve impingements, prematurely aging muscle, anermia which caused poor performance, recovery, and injury - there was so much to notice that when I started to experience severe fatigue, I was thankful it was an easy symptom to deal with.

So much was wrong, so little was right during those early years, those pre-diagnosis years. I attributed the fatigue and other indicators to simple stress:  I was under a great deal of stress from career, marriage, and other sources that this seemed reasonable, so I just pushed forward as best I could.

I flew to Australia for a photo shoot. I slept 18 hours on the flight; nobody had done that before, apparently. Things like this were commonplace to me. I was exhausted, completely and utterly, all the time. I thought "This stress is a killer." Never once did it cross my mind that I had cancer.

In any event, by the spring of 2015, I knew something more was wrong, and by July I was in an ICU fighting for my life.

One of the things that has happened to me, with which I am intimately familiar is loss. Rather than placing on a timeline, I will simply refer to key events. I lost the ability to train heavy and compete - my big outlet as a strongman is gone. I lost all my money: in between work being harder to find, having to pay cash for treatment of the DISH because there is no recognized treatment, and that taking a couple hundred thousand since my diagnosis in May 2006 my money is gone. I've lost my truck; I can't drive anyhow, since I randomly fall asleep. 

More recently, I've lost my job, my career; I now sit around at home all day (and night - there are so many nights that I am afraid to fall asleep because I am afraid to wake up to more loss): well, I try not to sit around, I've taken over housecleaning duties in an attempt to not only be useful but to feel useful and take some pride in some work, as an example. 

I was hospitalized, placed in a coma & intubated in March 2016 when I suffered from burst varices due to advanced stage liver disease and portal vein hypertension caused by a massively swollen spleen. I nearly died that time; apparently the doctors did not believe I would come out of the coma.

However, I did come out, and then spent until November recovering. In November, feeling somewhat recovered, but reeling from the loss of so many pieces of my identity, I was hitting bottom. I decided that I had to embrace something in order to start building a sense of identity. 

As I looked backwards over my life, I was cleaning the gunk off a knife that I had purchased in 1975, and that I had left at my father's house. He had used that knife for household chores until he died in 2004, at which time I brought that knife - the single thing left to me by my parents - to my house. As I was holding the knife, my mind drifted to other places and times.

I knew then, and never doubted my knowledge, that I had to rediscover my identity by getting back into knives. That's what led me to purchase some knives. From there, as I recovered even more, and felt more and more certain about my identity, I thought that I should hold a fundraiser, and that it should revolve around knives.

And here we are.



Friday, April 28, 2017

The show: Continues

The fundraiser is going to keep rolling, or crawling wounded, towards the finish line which at this point has become somewhat hallucinatory.  There are three goals with the fundraiser: raise money & awareness for the MPN Foundation are the first two, and the raison d'etre for its existence.

The third goal: have some fun. We all too frequently forget about that; we should not, because we do not know when this life will end for each of us. So I did make a change to rules which impacts only those who have already donated. If you are one of those people, and require some clarification, e-mail me, please.

Otherwise, and something all should keep in mind: there is nothing, absolutely nothing, political about knives. Knives might be used in heinous ghetto crime, although the more efficient alternative, firearms, enjoys popularity. Knives are also used by various sportsmen. 

OK, that might be a bad example for you. So I will point out a couple additional things, then I am turning off the computer and sleeping for a bit. The first thing I'll note is that in the 5th or 6th grade, my Eddie van Halen teacher, made sure that I read and studied a book on custom knives, and principles of building a collection.

Just to clarify a bit: do you really believe that a knife fetching, oh, USD25,000.00 on the secondary market will be purchased by a gangster for a 'hood crime? Do you believe that this sort of knife will ever be used in fishing or hunting? 

Compare the frequency of use as a fishing knife with how often "the Mr." will pull that knife, and others, out of his specially built and installed safe, and fondle them while the Louis brandy he has taken as a constitutional overwhelms his senses. 

So don't pigeon hole knives.  Knives, like Proust's madeliene, knives call up memories of our lives gone past; memories which, without that knife, we would never had recalled in such astonishing detail, such a wealth of sensory information saved up for us when we need it the most. 

Feeling those memories of a better place and time wash up and over me: that peace, that place I'm momentarily stopping at on the road labelled "Pursuit of the Other Road" - well that place needs to be visited more frequently, and with all that place was built upon.

Now, more than ever, right now: this is when we need love. It's an injection of the right kind of spirit, the right kind of emotion, the right kind of trust, belief, and faith in my fellow man to keep the struggle alive.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Prize List

This is the final prize list, barring any "Acts of God" that somehow interfere.

First place: Gayle Bradley 2, customized. A PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Second place: Manix 2 DLC, customized A PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Third place: Darex International WorkSharp Ken Onion Edition, with Blade Grinding Attachment, T-Shirt, Hat, & Mug. PK-F2-LE.

Fourth place: Emerson CQC 8, PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Fifth place: Darex International WorkSharp Guided Sharpening System, with Optional Update (additional diamond plates), T-Shirt, Hat, & Mug. PK-F2-LE.

These are incredibly great packages thanks to our sponsors. The fifth place package is worth considerably more than the entry fee; values go UP from there. I'm going to be seriously envious of whoever wins. The hardest part for me, is having this stuff laying around - and knowing that I have to give it to somebody else!

Shirts will be delivered to you approximately 4 weeks post drawing of the winners.

Every ticket holder gets one (1) free shirt, and can purchase additional shirts.

Knowledge & Life: Speaking of what we must remain silent

In the western epistemo-metaphysical tradition, it is typical to speak of knowledge as consisting of two components. The first component is what the layman would term "practical experience." The second component is what the layman would call "logic" or "theoretical knowledge."

Practical experience accounts for all the myriad perceptions and happenings which take place on a daily basis. These practical experiences are predicated on the presumed validity of perceptual experience: that what we see, hear, feel, taste, touch bears some accurate resemblance to reality. By themselves, such practical experiences do not yield knowledge: for example, a young child may well see what his mother sees, but the young child has little grasp of how this thing upon which he gazes works, applies to his own life, or any other of countless things which an adult quickly judges to be the case.

Quite naturally, then, in hearing tales of cancers, of MPNs, of myelofibrosis, it is natural to ask the question of the tale teller "But while you may have read about this cancer in a book, how do you really KNOW about it?"

The speaker, the self-appointed expert, in fact often does not have knowledge in this strict sense. In fact, the expert often takes the word of observational data samples as being the last word about the cancer.

It strikes me as quite telling that we are willing to essentially abdicate the unique position which true knowledge holds in what is quite possibly the most important role it can play only in the name of convenience: the knowledge of cancers might well be the most important knowledge we can attain, and we are quick to throw away any standards we might have for this knowledge.

This, I believe, speaks to the heady power of cancer; the power of cancer that causes us to behave so differently on a social scale, the power that a mere linguistic term holds over our social conscience.

This knowledge is what I hopefully can bring to our collective consciousness. Not only do have I some theoretical knowledge of the various processes at play in MPNs, but I am living with advanced myelofibrosis - that is, I am blessed with both components required for that mental state of knowledge: experience as well as logic.

Firstly, my qualifications with respect to logic and an ordering of facts: I have completed all my classwork for a PhD, and have my AM in, philosophy. My rigorous education, specializing in logic and mathematics, has taught me how to approach problems, how to break the complex down to the simple, and how to learn and understand the logic in new material. 

That I am gifted with advanced myelofibrosis is open to debate only insofar as it is called a gift. I have, thanks to the organic damage directly caused by this cancer, nearly died two times. I have been hospitalized, placed in a medically induced coma, had 18 units of blood pumped into me, my wife  told that I will only leave ICU via the morgue, I was intubated, doctors worked in 10 hour shifts to patch my body back together much like humpty dumpty, and I lived - much to the amazement of all parties involved, except me.

The only thing I remember of the incident is that I vomited blood while at work one morning; I was driven to the ER, where I told the admitting staff that I was dying, and they refused to believe me, along with every other person in line. I then patiently took my place in line, and asked everybody ahead of me one more time if I could cut; received the "daggers of death" stares; so I waited 10 minutes.

I then politely, ever so politely, asked the woman in line ahead of me if she could pass me the garbage can, which she did.  I looked at her, and said "Watch this" and vomited up over 1 gallon of blood.

The offers for me to go to the head of line were many, fast, and accompanied by stares which suggested people were now worried about catching something. I moved up in line, a wheelchair came out, and I was wheeled back to the ER where I started to undress, explaining that I was sure I would be there for a while.

As somebody attempted to follow intake procedure, I vomited yet again. They told me not to worry about anything, but just to grab a bed. That was early Wednesday morning; Saturday afternoon I had the breathing tube removed and started recovery.

There is, of course, much more to my story than this single incident. I had been diagnosed 9 months earlier; I had spent many hours crying, completely unsure of what my future might in fact hold for me. 

I had participated in a clinical trial for a new drug, and the doctor for that trial had (I'm convinced of the rightness of this) nearly killed me. That doctor had, repeatedly, told me that none of the pain I had was related to the cancer; that none of the fatigue I was experiencing was related to the cancer; that, in particular, the GI / abdominal issues of which I complained were "all in my head and a sign that I was depressed."

I vomited a total of 3 or 4 gallons of depression that fateful day in March. I think I still have quite a bit of depression left in me.

I spent all the spare time from the time I was first admitted to the hospital and nearly died from an HGB of 4, in July of 2015, to the time I was placed in a coma, in March of 2016, studying. I studied an average of 35 hours per week to understand this cancer, myelofibrosis, and how it did and would impact me.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fundraising status

I have to balance the books, but so far we are looking at about $700 in ticket revenue, with a little more "in process", and a little more yet that needs to be billed. This puts us a bit behind schedule, but not terribly. I'm rather hoping that the pace will pick up soon; I believe a couple key events will help with that. 

These fundraisers are important. They are important to the people who hold them: they give us a reason, something to channel our commitment, energy, and focus into; and they are important to the entire MPN Community. As William Crowley, Directory of Development for the MPN Research Foundation puts it:

"When you join Team MPN and hold a fundraiser for the MPN Research Foundation, you play a key role in improving the lives of the nearly 300,000 people who suffer with an MPN. Events like “Blades Against Myelofibrosis: 2017” will help fund original research in pursuit of new treatments and eventually a cure for polycythemia vera, essential thrombocythemia and myelofibrosis, known collectively as myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN).  You give hope and promise of future breakthroughs that will improve the lives of those living with an MPN."

That certainly lends a nice perspective to my work on this project. To give hope and promise to a community of people who are burdened with such a terrible disease.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Pictures

Today is a day of pictures. Hopefully you like them; I think some of them are fairly good, for a guy who has never really done product photography. My plan is to work all day in hour long sessions on this.

Click on each photo to get a larger version.

First up, some Gayle Bradley Folder 2 post-customization work. The GB is part of the first-place prize package.


Clip Side. Look closely at the blade, you will see the yin-yang reflection in the edge




Presentation side.



View from above. Note the blade centering; there is no blade play when open. Note also how Steve "sandwiched" scale construction / view, working on the blacked out liners with a thin scale of orange and the final outer scales. 
This is an extensive amount of craftmanship!




Emerson CQC 8 Stonewashed blade, dual side grind, black G10 scales - part of the 2nd place package.

Emerson CQC 8, clip side.


Emerson CQC 8, presentation side.


Group Shot - not the best picture. Long story behind the various problems I encountered; I'm not going to document that, as there is still a risk of a machine crash.

A crash as in my laptop crashing from the car while driving on the freeway.


Gayle Bradley, Emerson, Manix




Notes on the photographic process:

I'm including these more advanced notes for any folks learning photography. As a rule, these notes will be boring.

These photos are shot with a true macro lens, which is why I can generate larger than life, high quality pictures. There is a cost to this (besides equipment just consuming every dime of my money): on shots with a greater depth of field, either the front or the back of the shot will be out of focus.

This is just a cost of doing true macro photography. You can pay the cost in about two ways: one is the way I've chosen for now: having one part of the image out of focus. The other way to pay the piper is to perform a technique called photo stacking, in which multiple shots of the same image are taken, and the focus is set to different points for each shot. 

These shots are then stitched together, much like what is done with panorama photos. Each photo takes quite a bit of time to produce using this method - which is precisely why I've chosen not to do it.

Lighting.

Lighting for the solo GB folder shots, section 1: thick frosted plate glass as surface, covered with muslin sheet. Continuous (non-strobe) lights, variable intensity and temp. Top light behind white umbrella, set to 5000K and 100%; bottom light bare, barn doors positioned for reflection, 5000k, 100%. These are 500w LED based. Moved to using the sheet for daytime shooting. If shooting with no ambient light, then eliminate sheet, decrease bottom light intensity. Trying to get just enough glare-free light to the underside of the subjects to lend a 360 degree light source appearance.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Update: New Processing

Reserving a Ticket

Follow these steps to reserve your ticket:

1. Fill out the reservation form, by clicking on the URL to Reserve a Ticket 
2. Make a donation to GoFundMe. The url is https://gofundme.com/bladesagainstmpns
3. If you have any problems, notify strongmanbob@gmail.com
4. You will receive an email from strongmanbob@gmail.com with your ticket number. The wait time for this will vary depending on a number of factors.
5. That's it!
6. When we have a drawing, we will let you know via email. The drawing is set for 7/5.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Status

We are, as the saying goes, off and running. Tickets are selling. We are generating more and more buzz. We're wrapping up final details with sponsors; our flashlights are on the way to be engraved - we have 12 extremely good flashlights 

WorkSharp Ken Onion with options


Now it's primarily a question of finding the time for me to get everything done, to keep existing processes on track, and to manage the fiduciary responsibilities. 

I'm also going to provide a "user guide to raffles" if you will - essentially a guide that outlines the different tasks involved in holding a raffle, from identifying an overall theme to finding sponsors to deciding on prizes, ticket costs, sponsors, and odds. This guide is largely what I've learned from puttting this raffle together.

WorkSharp Guided System with swag
Note: both systems come with a shirt, cap, and coffee mug.


The above pictures are of the WorkSharp prizes, which will be 4th and 5th place. The next pics to post will be a couple more of the Emerson, and then I'll dig into the top 2 prizes, the customized knives.


We have, theoretically, two weeks left. I suspect I'll extend that deadline; we have been impacted by a couple events involving credit card processing that were beyond our control and yet necessary to work through.

While that doesn't leave me happy, these items were critical; I think I handled them well considering.


Saturday, March 18, 2017

It's not just a knife

As one of my last projects, I want to help as many other patients as possible. I have come to realize that one of the most effective ways to do this is to enable the MPN Foundation to do their work. By organizing this raffle, by raising funds, and forwarding them to the MPN Foundation, I hope to be giving some patients a chance at a life.

This iteration of a project, whether completed or not, makes me wish for a couple things: one the donation to the MPN Research Foundation. Two, I get to work my ass off looking forward to a goal; finally, I honestly hope that this project becomes some part of my legacy, that somebody continues growing it, nursing it to health, and making it good in ways that that I cannot imagine.

It's the only thing I have for my exit plan.

I don't want it grown for me. No, not for me. For Tina. For George. Two friends who have not made it. For all the others who have suffered, and are still suffering.

For all those who won't make it as long as they should.

For all those who suffer with the pain from this cancer.

With that in mind, here's a sneak peek at some customization of a Gayle Bradley Folder 2. Keep in mind the colors for myelofibrosis are red and orange. The knives will be in my grubby paws next week (that familiar Snap you will hear is me putting on the rubber gloves, get your mind out of the gutter) for extensive photo opps.






Thursday, March 16, 2017

Rolling along to a higher standard

We have sold some tickets!

I say "we" because although this was my idea, and I'm responsible, there are so many good people involved in the realization of the idea that I feel as though I'm part of a team.

In any event, we are rolling along, despite the normal bumps in the road.

As promised I am posting more pictures of prizes. Since every prize package will include a PK Design Labs Flashlight, here's what that light looks like:

PK Design Labs: PK-FL2-LE



PK Design Labs: PK-FL2-LE

Please note: these are pictures of my personal copy of the light. If you zoom in, and notice scratches, or whatever, don't worry. I've had my light for a number of months.

As well, the lights have arrived from Hong Kong, and will be on their way to...the engraver!  In order to make the event a bit more memorable, and to have something quite special that nobody else will have, we are getting the lights engraved with (something like): Blades Against Myelofibrosis Inaugural Benefit - Ides of March, 2017.

As with everything else in this benefit, we are holding ourselves to a higher-than-normal standard. Where other people might be content to make available t-shirts, we're not only doing that, but we are also providing high-end flashlights with custom engraving.

This is another example of how things should be done. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

We Open Today

As strongly suggested in prior posts, we are kicking things off today!

A couple items of business: first, to the person who does not want to participate, but wants to buy a t-shirt. I will be happy to sell you a t-shirt for $75.00 .

(That's my polite way of suggesting that perhaps you wish to do your clothes shopping elsewhere.)

I will be posting pics of merchandise through the week, starting with the last place prize and working my up. Check back here for new pics, and for any updates.

Update: What have we here? It's a box of boxes!



No - it's a box of PK FL2 lights!


We will be including one such light in each package!




Monday, March 13, 2017

Blades Against Myelofibrosis 2017

Blades Against Myelofibrosis -  2017


Overview

This drive is being held as a fundraiser for the MPN Research Foundation. It is organized, and administered by, Bob Wanamaker. All proceeds go to the MPN Research Foundation.

It starts on 3/15/2017, and ends on 4/17/2017.

All billing will be invoiced through Avant Systems, Inc who is donating services for the raffle.

A more in-depth overview of the disease, and our goals can be found here.

Rules can be found here.

An entry form can be found here. (Note: this link will go live on 3/15).

The prize list can be found here. Note that the purchase of a ticket includes a t-shirt.

The Sponsors

Without the support of generous sponsors, this would not happen. A huge thanks to (in alphabetical order): Blade Flick, Iron & Emotion, PK Design Lab, Razor's Edge Knives, Sketchen Scales, Spyderco, WorkSharp.

The Disease

Myelofibrosis is an incurable cancer, belonging to a class of cancers called MPNs - Myeloproliferative NeoPlasms. It is the worst of the group; other MPNs progress to it, and sometimes patients develop it without having developed other MPNs

The Foundation

The MPN Research Foundation is dedicated to education, healing, and research involving only MPNs. It is an organization for patients, founded by patients, and patients help the organization in various ways, including fund-raising drives.


Bob Wanamaker & Near Death Productions

Bob was diagnosed with myelofibrosis in August 2015 when he collapsed in the emergency room, and has been hospitalized twice with life threatening complications. This drive is his way of helping others with the disease.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

The Birth Of Near Death Productions & Shirts

Each ticket purchased will receive an awesome t-shirt at no extra charge.

The artwork has been done by Iron & Emotion - owner Jen Iron has been doing incredibly great work for years. Her work really stands apart in a crowded market space, and I am blessed that she is helping me.

The front of the shirt is simply the logo design which you see on the web page. The back of the shirt is essentially a list of major sponsors:



We also included the MPN Research Foundation in our list. Even though they are the recipient of all proceeds, I felt that it only made sense to acknowledge them on each shirt. Lack of space elsewhere moved us to this idea. I'm quite pleased with the work Jen has done.

"Near Death Productions" was a spur of the moment idea from me, but I think that it fits nicely. I have, after all, come near death two times since July 2015 thanks to this cancer, spending time in the ICU ward on both occasions; once in a medical coma and intubated. I am also, in an important sense, near death now as I write this update. It could come at any time - again, thanks to this cancer.

I want to remind those of you who are suffering from this cancer and feel unable to do anything to help others: I am physically unable to do much. However, I was still able to find a way to make a contribution.

I want to remind everybody of at least one more thing. Maybe you think I'm a total asshole. Maybe you think I'm the best thing since sliced bread. Maybe you don't bother to even think of me.

Running underneath all these maybes is a certainty: this cancer has taken so very much from me. My dreams, hopes, aspirations. Any money. My career. My friends: many of my friends no longer wish to be near me.

It has stolen my health in what is supposed to be the prime of my life. I have gone from training for strongman competitions to struggling to  get around the house.

There's a saying that I had heard prior to my diagnosis: "There but for the grace of God go I." I was able to parse those words, but I never truly understood their meaning.

Now I do.

Remember: I might mean nothing to you. But somewhere, somebody does mean something to you, even if you can spot only fleeting glimpses of that somebody in the mirror.

I want to remind everybody that: "There, but for the grace of god, goes that somebody."

I think Near Death Productions is a good reminder of such things.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Prize List: Final List, Barring Acts of God

This is the final prize list, barring any "Acts of God" that somehow interfere.

First place: Gayle Bradley 2, customized. A PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Second place: Manix 2 DLC, customized A PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Third place: Darex International WorkSharp Ken Onion Edition, with Blade Grinding Attachment, T-Shirt, Hat, & Mug. PK-F2-LE.

Fourth place: Emerson CQC 8, PK Design PK-F2-LE flashlight.

Fifth place: Darex International WorkSharp Guided Sharpening System, with Optional Update (additional diamond plates), T-Shirt, Hat, & Mug. PK-F2-LE.

These are incredibly great packages thanks to our sponsors. The fifth place package is worth considerably more than the entry fee; values go up from there. I'm going to be seriously envious of whoever wins. The hardest part for me, is having this stuff laying around - and knowing that I have to give it to somebody else!

Shirts will be delivered to you approximately 4 weeks post ordering.

Every ticket holder gets one (1) free shirt, and can purchase additional shirts.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

But that Emerson Blade

Sometimes, it's the little things in life that stand out.

The dew on a spider web.

The feel of a malamute's winter coat around her neck. The look on her face as you rub the neck, then the ear.

The grind of an Emerson blade.

Below is the Emerson CQC 8 we're giving away, or, rather a closeup of it's blade, showing the swedge and the two grinds. Give it a click to zoom in so you can check out some detail.





Monday, March 6, 2017

Welcome to BladeFlick

BladeFlick, founded in 2016, is a start-up company specializing in American-made knives for self-defense. They donated the third-place knife, an Emerson CQC 8; this is the first time I've seen an Emerson in my grubby little (ok, x-large) hands for an extended period of time, and I must say: the blade is a work of art.


BladeFlick is customer service oriented; they offer free shipping on all orders, and will do whatever it takes to help their customers find the perfect knife for their unique needs.

I first met the owner last fall, and asked him if he could get me a particular discontinued Spyderco knife. He told me it was no problem - and I chuckled under my breath, having heard that so many times it had become a punchline to a bad joke - and quote me a price that was great.  However, I figured that this was just more of the same, and I'd never hear from him again.

The following day, I ran through my voice mail for the final check of the day. There was one message "Bob, hi. This is Connor from BladeFlick, calling to let you know I have your knife ready. Please email me with shipping details when you get a chance."

I called Connor back, and we chatted for a few minutes. I mentioned this raffle, not expecting anything - after, they are a small startup, watching every penny. Connor asked for some details, and then told me he would like to send me the Emerson as a donation.

Within a week, a package arrived containing the Emerson - so far ahead of schedule that I've had to hold myself back from playing with it. I finally gave in, and dropped him an email, asking him to get me my own Super Commander.

Who knows, maybe Connor also knows a thing or two about sales?

Drop them an email: info{at}bladeflick{DOT}com - tell them you heard about them here, and be sure to ask if they might have any active discount coupons. Be sure to thank them for generously supporting cancer research.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

Welcome Darex LLC - WorkSharp - as a sponsor!

Another warm welcome is due: this one to Darex, LLC - who owns & runs an international tool and abrasives company that us knife knuts know as WorkSharp. They are well known for the WorkSharp line, and have really started to shine with the WorkSharp Ken Onion Edition (WSKO) and the Blade Grinding Attachment (BGA). 

They have decided to sponsor me, and the WSKO + BGA is the first kit they are donating to the cause.

Essentially a small, portable, enthusiast-sized powered belt grinder, the WSKO is also a guided system: in short, a belt is put on, the proper angle is selected, and the knife is pulled through one slot, then another slot. The number of times depends on how fast you pull, the speed the WSKO is running, and how badly off your blade has gotten. Each slot does one side of the blade.

As with any system, you start off coarse, and get progressively finer. As with any powered system, there are a couple caveats: you can go too fast, and generate too much heat, ruining the temper of the bevel; you can also use too much pressure, which generates too much heat as well as destroying belts; and if you don't pay attention, costly mistakes can ensue.

Angles can be set from 15 to 30 degrees per side; since the system is guided, everything is easily repeatable. Easily repeatable means consistent sharpening of your knives.

Adding the optional BGA does a couple things: it increases the length of the belt, thereby giving you more abrasive per belt, and allows the knife edge to cool off a bit longer. It also changes the system from guided to freehand, which could be a huge plus when you are ready for it - and as a freehand system, you have complete visibility and much more open workspace for your knives than the stock system.  It gives you a wider spread of angles as well: 10-35 degrees per side, in 1 degree increments.

There are more features the BGA adds, but this is neither a tutorial nor a review, so I'm only going to say one final thing: this is the powered system I use, and I'm quite pleased with the results.

The other kit is their manual Guided Sharpening System (GSS) with optional Upgrades. Essentially, the GSS gives the sharpener a way to set up the system to guide every aspect of sharpening, using a technology called the Pivot Response System. The system utilizes small bench stones, and the upgrade kit adds in some additional stones.

The system is unique among guided systems, in that you can easily disable the guided feature, and use the stones freehand.

Finally, they are donating a variety of swag: shirts, hats, mugs.

For more information about WorkSharp, please check out their website.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Welcome PK Design Lab as a sponsor!

Paul Kim (PK), former Senior Vice President of Engineering at Surefire, should be a familiar name to anybody with more than a cursory knowledge of the flashlight industry. Surefire was among the first, if not the first, military light supplier to turn to the consumer marketplace, and market their military lights as "tactical."  Many of their early models defined "tactical." Their lights, under PK's guidance, represented the zenith of reliability, brightness, and usability. 

It used to be said that there were "lumens" and then there were "SureFire Lumens."  SureFire never played the numbers game very well. PK believes in honesty in all things, even his product specifications.

Called by the New York Times a "modern militant" PK holds over 100 patents related to the lighting industry, and left SureFire to found PK Design Lab, a company whose motto "Designed for Cultivated Expectations" is redefining "lumens" once again. With the first light produced, the PK-2F-LE, a limited edition handheld powerhouse, PK has shown us what "PK Lumens" means.

Rated at 650 Lumens, the 2F simply blows away my Fenix lights rated at 1,000 lumens: not only in brightness, but in the aspects of usability, grip, and beam quality. The beam from the 2F is a superb combination of throw and spill. It weighs 6oz and is waterproof, impact resistant, and hard-anodized; easily fits in a pocket, and has great tint. It passes my 100 yard driveway test easily, which is no mean feat for such a compact light.

These lights were originally priced at $190 each; they are available now for about ~$100 each. Powered by a pair of CR123a primary batteries, they have a low (20 lumen) and high (650 lumen) setting, with up to 24 hours runtime from a set of batteries.

These are the lights PK is donating. Each prize package will include one such light.






Friday, March 3, 2017

Prizes: Near Completion (Short Update)

I am almost done talking with sponsors and working on prize packages. I have one more sponsor I will unveil in the next couple days who is donating a lot of very nice prizes to the pot. I will be putting together final prize packages, some changes will have to occur, as I do have more prizes than anticipated.

Over the next few days, then, my focus shifts towards this website; to getting some product photos up; and to working on the process for actually reserving tickets.

It has been a long day. I was at the hospital for most of the day, and wanted to catch up with some of the business side before sleeping.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Counting Down

The start date of 3/15 draws closer and closer. As well, today, 2/28/2017, is Rare Disease Day of 2017. MPNs qualify as rare diseases.

Aren't I special?

This is a verry nekkid Gayle Bradley (the knife, not the knifemaker):




This is a Gayle Bradley in new dress colors - or partially in new dress colors, this pic does not show off the new scales:




A couple things: you can see, in the first "dressed" pic, that the blade is suddenly black. This is the miracle of Cerakoting; likewise, in the final pic above, you can see the red spine - again, Cerakoting.



In the above pic, we show off the newly Cerakoted standoffs.

The Cerakoted blade buys a couple things: since the GB blade is made from a tool steel (CPM M4), and not a stainless steel, it will corrode. However, other aspects of its performance (hardness, toughness) are exemplary. The Cerakote process will eliminate the weakness - susceptibility to corrosion.

There are other ways to eliminate this predeliction: however, Cerakoting means that it is done once, and never revisited. This is a good thing - the less the user has to maintain, the better. Cerakoting means that the corrosion factor is a thing of the past - now you can just enjoy your knife.

The Cerakoting was performed by Josh of Razor Edge Knives. To learn a little more about Cerakoting as Josh sees it, please visit his page.

A couple other things to notice about the knife: most obviously, I think, is that we decided to Cerakote the stand-offs and the spine in a different color than the blade faces; the color is one of the official colors of myelofibrosis. What you may not have noticed, but is pictured to some degree in the the second picture: the edge honed by Josh is a mirror-finish edge.

 All in all, I'm very pleased with the result of Josh's work, and am looking forward very much to seeing the completed knife. As it sits, we took a Spyderco knife that is hugely popular, customized it to have the colors we wanted, and eliminated the big weakness of the M4 steel. 

i think I'm going to save my pennies and have another one of these built just for myself!