A new book, and a new career


Two friends have important announcements today.

First, Old NFO, a.k.a. Jim Curtis, has just released his latest book, the second in his Western series “The Bell Chronicles“.  It’s titled “Ranching in Colorado“.

The blurb reads:

Back in Texas he might be The Rio Kid, but at the other end of a long cattle drive in Fort Collins, Rio Bell is now struggling through his first year as a Colorado rancher. With his new wife, old hands, and a few mountain men, he’s learning fast as they deal with winter weather and stubborn cattle.

The killing cold and deep snows bring all new challenges to calving and just getting in supplies, but tempers can run hot as ever. Not everybody wants to see him succeed… or even survive.

They’re about to learn he’s no greenhorn when it comes to taking care of business, regardless of what that particular business may be.

I had the pleasure of beta-reading Jim’s manuscript, and enjoyed it very much.  He writes convincingly about the minutiae of everyday life on a cattle ranch, the details that so many “thud-and-blunder” Westerns ignore because they can’t be sensationalized.  If that sort of thing interests you as much as it does me, I think you’ll like it.

* * * * *

Next, one of my meatspace acquaintances, Ben Olsen, is trying to rebuild his life and start out in a whole new career direction.  Ben became extremely ill with COVID-19 and complications thereof last year, to the point that most of us thought he was not long for this world.  He spent weeks in an induced coma, to try to give his body a chance to fight back without distractions.  Almost miraculously, he pulled through.  He’s still working through physical therapy to address some of the long-term effects of his illness, but he’s made a remarkable recovery.

Now Ben’s mounting a fundraiser to convert his hobby of knife-making into a full-time occupation.

I’ve seen and handled his knives, and also the hair sticks (a.k.a. “stabby sticks”) he makes for ladies who may need to point out (you should pardon the expression) to aggressive individuals that they need to be elsewhere, pronto.  Ben does very good work.

He writes:

Yeah, I’m that guy who’s crazy enough to try to go straight from crippling illness to self employed maker, and I would like your help to do that.

I am a knife maker, I can do mobile sharpening, and I have my own design of light but strong hairsticks for the ladies in all sorts of pretty colors. Funding will be used first for immediate goals to start the business, and anything left over will be put toward my longer term goals to expand it.

There’s more at the link.

I’ll be contributing to his fundraiser.  If you, like me, support those trying to rebuild their lives after life gives them lemons, and make lemonade with them, I hope you’ll do likewise.  Ben deserves it, after all he’s been through.  Full marks to him for wanting to actually earn a living, rather than demand disability and other support from Big Brother.  We need more people like that!

Another of my friends has known Ben for much longer than I have, and supported him even as an amateur bladesmith.  She writes on social media (no direct link available):

He makes absolutely beautiful knives and gorgeous hair sticks that are made from G10. I have like 12 pair of the hair sticks and probably refer another woman to him every couple of weeks. They’re light, strong, will stick in any hair type, and will definitely get the point across to anyone who needs active physical encouragement to be elsewhere. I also have a couple of his knives.

I bought the very first knife he produced for commercial sale and commissioned his very first set of hair sticks. He actually made the G10 ones for me to try because he felt like the steel ones I ordered would too heavy for long term wear (and he was absolutely correct about that). The first knife I bought from him is as sturdy today as it was the day I bought it several years ago, and I have been wearing that same pair of basic black G10 hair sticks for over 5 years. They’re rock solid. I only have so many pairs of them because he started making them in so many colors, and I have no impulse control for pretty and pointy things.

He’s only gotten better at his craft since then, and I can’t recommend him or his products highly enough. If anyone deserves a hand into making his dreams of being a full-time craftsmen into a reality, it’s him. Please help out if you can, and share the link around as widely as possible.

Thanks in advance for your support for Ben’s dreams.



  1. Do you have a link to his product page? I think that hairsticks as Christmas gifts are in my future.

  2. @John: He doesn't have a Web site yet – that's one of the things he wants to fund through this endeavor. It'll hopefully be up soon.

  3. A few more days and I hope to have a few dollars to spare.

    @John, if you do fb, he has a page. You could probably message him to make your Christmas order.

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