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Weird Science

October 1st, 2015

My State is Solidifying

What interesting times I’m having.

I keep getting deeper into physics and electronics. It’s not something I expected, and it’s not going the way I would have predicted.

For years I’ve had dreams about my time as a physics grad student at the University of Texas. I hated these dreams, but I couldn’t stop them. I would find myself returning to my apartment north of the city. My things were still there. The apartment was different in the dreams. It was gigantic. It was disorderly, too. The kitchen was a mess. Not dirty, but stuff was out on the table and counters. There were messy rooms with all sorts of tools in them.

I would wonder why the company that owned the apartment complex hadn’t thrown me out, since I hadn’t been paying rent.

I would find myself walking around campus, attending August meetings in preparation for the new school year. I wasn’t really part of it, though. I was like a ghost, observing but not really joining.

I did not like the dreams. I knew things weren’t right. I wasn’t ready to go back to work. I hadn’t planned or made arrangements. I was just there, with no warning or preparation. I didn’t feel that I could make it work. I was on my own.

I prayed for God to take away the dreams.

Losing physics was the most painful thing that ever happened to me. I spent three years in Texas, and I didn’t make a single friend, except for a girlfriend. The students in the department were very disagreeable. They were cold. Many were arrogant and snotty, as you would expect boys to be after a twenty-odd years of having their mothers show their brains off to their relatives and friends. The instructors didn’t care at all about the students. The administration was like a machine in a far-off country that transmitted its decisions over a cable. Completely impersonal.

I arrived in Austin in 1994, about three years after returning to college. I had gotten tired of trying to sell houses, and I had tried to enroll at the University of Miami. Because of my problems at Columbia University, they made me go to Florida International University, a local school, to prove I was serious.

When I first decided to go back to school, I figured I would be a lawyer, because it was an easy job that paid well. Then I saw the horrible classes pre-law students took. Boredom epitomized. I decided to become an avian vet, so I signed up for calculus, chemistry, and physics.

I had problems in calculus, and then I remembered that I had failed math in high school. I didn’t really know algebra. I started studying algebra and calculus at the same time, and I went from a 40 on the first test to a 100 and an 97 3/4 on the last two.

UM admitted me, and I started taking courses very quickly. I took courses at the same time as their prerequisites. A guy who taught my second physics lab course ended up sitting next to me in classes, because I progressed to the point where I could study with grad students.

I got burned out in the last year, not surprisingly, and they put me on Ritalin. By the time I got to UT, I had adjusted to the drug, and it didn’t work as well. I was taking huge doses. Up to 120 mg a day. They put me on other drugs which drove me crazy, and I could not make myself study. I had to drop a class.

The department wanted me gone. I guess they were used to seeing people wash out. They didn’t care at all. They did almost nothing for me. They made some small accommodations, and the impression I got was that they were just trying to avoid an ADA suit. They had already been in trouble over that.

I was more alone than I had ever been, and I was losing the thing I thought would save me. A couple of infantile grad students gave me a hard time. I put up posters advertising my services as a tutor, and one of them got in the computer, changed the posters to make me look like a fool, and put them up all over the physics building.

I lost to people I should have beaten, and there was nowhere to turn. The drugs kept me awake for days on end, even after I quit taking them. I had thought I had found my place in society. I thought physics would save me. I was really good at it, and I had every reasonable expectation that I would get much better, but I wasn’t going to get the chance, no matter what I did.

I had test anxiety. I remember taking a test in graduate quantum mechanics. There was a simple problem I could not solve to save my life. After the test, I walked back to the T.A. office, which was shared by various students. I wrote the problem on the board and solved it, just like writing a grocery list. It took a couple of minutes. It was simple. I could do it in the office, but not during the test. Imagine the frustration.

When I prayed, I felt as if the prayers bounced off the ceiling and reverberated around the room. God refused to help me. Or rather, he helped me by turning away from me.

I was trying to do my own thing, with virtually no prayer life. Without submission or confession. In pride.

I never walked in the door of a church in Texas. I only prayed because I was miserable and wanted help, and I did it rarely.

When I returned to Florida and went to law school, it was failure. Anyone can be a lawyer. My family is full of lawyers. It was the dreadful default option, like hell. Other people were proud to be in law school. I was ashamed of it, but there was nothing I could do.

Law turned out to be pretty pleasant, but that didn’t erase the pain of losing physics. I never cared about law. I never wanted to do it.

Over the last few weeks, strange things have been happening. I’ve written about it already. I’ve been watching solid state physics lectures. That’s the class that killed me in Texas. For a long time, I’ve wished I could beat that class, even on my own, just to know I didn’t lose permanently.

I’ve been watching Sandro Scandolo’s lectures for ICTP, the International Centre for Theoretical Physics. I ordered a gray-market copy of the Ashcroft-Mermin book, Solid State Physics. The worldwide standard is a terse book by a guy named Kittel. Ashcroft is easier to understand. Yesterday I found a book of solved problems. It’s not easy to find solved-problem books for graduate-level physics. If you Google “Mihaly,” you’ll find it.

Suddenly, I feel different. I feel like a scientist again. I have the same feeling I used to have when I walked the halls of RLM, the physics building at UT. I can’t explain it. I feel as though I’m there, doing what I used to do. I feel like I can pick up a few things and regain my competence.

UT made me feel as though I were incapable of doing physics. I know that’s not true. No one can start as a math illiterate and end up in a top-tier graduate school in three years without the ability to handle the material. But you know what the Bible says: “A crushed spirit, who can bear?”

Law is easy. I’m sorry if that offends lawyers, but it’s true. If you have an IQ of 110, you can be a lawyer. If you have an IQ of 120, you can be a good lawyer. Those are not high scores. As my evidence professor used to say, to pour water on the burning egos, “You’re just smarter than the average bear.”

Law was just something to do to bring checks in the door. There was not a lot of dignity in it, given the way it entered my life.

I hope I can get through one semester’s worth of solid state. I think that will stop the dreams.

I feel like God has taken his foot off my neck.

Before I go, something I machined. My dad broke a tripod he bought for his laptop, and he asked me if I could fix it. I checked, and they don’t sell the part he broke. I had to make it from aluminum. It’s not beautiful; making it pretty would have increased the time expenditure from half a day to a day and a half. But I had no problems making it, and it’s much better than the plastic it replaced.

09 30 15 laptop tripod part installed with final operations done

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Nerd Tools

September 29th, 2015

If You Can’t Learn in 2015, You are Beyond Hope

Today a few things about my progress in various areas.

First off, I found an incredible circuit analysis video.

As I have mentioned before, I have been trying to get back into (“back” is a kind exaggeration) electronics. I started watching MIT’s free online course, 6.002.

I found the book pedantic and tedious, and the professor didn’t explain things all that well. I started using other sources and compiling a notebook.

I came to realize that the MIT guy was not doing a good job. He taught things that were not useful, and he omitted things that were very useful. He may have a brain the size of a Subaru, but he is not the perfect teacher.

When you study electronics, you want to know what people who work with circuits actually do. You don’t need to learn a bunch of crap that only manifests in the real world in the homework problems of students.

Over the last week, I started writing my own method, and yesterday I checked Youtube for resources. I found this video:

You won’t believe it until you watch it, but this guy sums up six weeks’ worth of college lectures in 90 minutes, and he does it slowly.

The MIT guy taught me things that I can’t use. He told me about the “lumped matter discipline” and…other stuff I don’t remember. You don’t need to know all that. It’s filler for pedants. If you take out the junk he incorporated and you add some great things he left out, you get the video above.

Take a look. If you learn the material in the video, it will make any other class you might take make sense.

I’m sure there are huge benefits to the MIT course, once you have your legs under you, but you have to start with a solid foundation.

The video guy recommends LTSpice, which is a free program that lets you draw circuits and then run them in a virtual…space or whatever. Easier than breadboarding. I have the program, and the learning curve seems pretty flat. I was able to turn it on and draw a circuit without studying. You can find it by Googling.

I’m also enjoying a graduate-level solid state physics course. This is the course that killed me as a physicist. Well, this and quantum. I got burned out, and they had me on ADD drugs that made me nearly crazy, and I got a D in solid state.

The professor who taught the course was awful, and the department at UT Austin was not helpful at all. It was a horrible experience, losing physics. A slow-motion trainwreck on a locomotive with the brake lever welded open. Of course, even though UT was not exactly nurturing, it’s my fault. I was out of God’s favor because I chose to be.

It would be wonderful to master this course and do problems successfully. Just a closure thing.

I found this guy on Youtube. It’s easy to find undergrad physics on the web, but graduate stuff is less available. Someone uploaded his videos, and they came up in a Youtube search.

His name is Sandro Scandolo, and he teaches at an instution called ICTP, in Italy. Even if you don’t know physics well at all, if you’re technically inclined, you will enjoy the first lecture. His style is wonderful. Patient, conversational, and very organized.

ICTP has a website, and if you burrow around in it, you can find other graduate courses. You can download them as flash or Apple movies. I leave finding them to you.

I plan to watch the whole course, even if I don’t do problems. I am smart enough to understand this stuff even if I don’t take the time to put it to work. Simply understanding it will make me feel better.

If you want technical texts for home study, I can recommend two resources. First, Scrib’d. You may have moral qualms about it, so caveat emptor. It’s a site with zillions of PDF uploads. You pay nine bucks a month. Much of the material is not copyrighted, so you can read it without feeling bad. Another resource is Amazon Marketplace. When you look for a hardcover text that costs $200 in the US (they have gone up that much, believe it or not), you will often find links to people who sell gray-market paperbacks for under twenty bucks. Same books. No infringement. I have two of them, and a third is on the way.

If you go crazy and decide to study solid state, get Ashcroft. I also found a book by a guy named McKelvey. Very nice. Kittel is a torture device. Naturally, it’s the book UT used. I still have my copy. I should waterboard it.

People say Kittel was a genius, but that doesn’t mean he could write books people could actually learn from.

CAD is going well. I have no complaints about Fusion 360. I’m sorry I paid so much for Alibre and Dolphin, but I did my best to find good programs, and that’s what I came up with in my first attempts. I’ll post a jpg of a part I’m making.

09 22 15 Fusion 360 Lathe Tool Post with extraneous crap removed

I’ve always sneered at 3D printers. Now that I can do CAD and send files to a printer, I sort of wish I had one. I checked into them last week, and I found that I was right to sneer. They’re still toys, and they make rough parts made of weak materials. If you have $500,000 you can get a really nice one that makes things you can use, but I think I’ll pass.

Maybe I should get a crummy one now just so I’ll get to know the technology.

The Autodesk Fusion 360 forum is a lifesaver. That, alone, makes it worth downloading and using. I tried CNCZone when I was struggling with Alibre and Dolphin, but the kids on that forum tend to be nonhelpful and self-absorbed, and they can also be rude.

I am back to music study. I returned to Sightreading.com. I recommend it. It produces random pages of music for practice. They’re not tunes. Just notes. It’s helpful because you will involuntarily memorize tunes as you work on them, and once that happens, it’s not sightreading. You can’t memorize random junk, so it keeps the proper area of the brain working.

That’s all I have right now. I hope it will be useful to someone.

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I am an Obama Voter

September 28th, 2015

You Probably are, Too

My interest in politics keeps shrinking.

I used to come here and write about politics all the time, like a greyhound chasing the devil’s useless electric rabbit. I had a lot of fun, but it was a poisonous waste of time. I wish I could take it back.

The truth is that our problems are not caused by poor voting habits. Our poor voting habits are symptoms of a greater evil: lack of submission to God.

Most of us have no prayer lives, and that is true in far-out, tongue-speaking churches as well as among the general population. We don’t know God. We have no interest in his correction or in being commanded by him. Some of us show up on Sundays, checking in like weekend dads, but generally, not much happens during the week.

Here’s a downer for you: Republicans elected Obama.

We elected Obama by voting with our lack of prayer. If we prayed, we would be changing ourselves as well as whatever other individuals are susceptible to change. God would see us as his children, and he would have an incentive to protect us and bless us. Because we don’t pray, he has a strong incentive to punish us and make us suffer. If we don’t suffer, we are not likely to turn to him and pay attention to him.

You can blame illegals and vacuous welfare-minded professional victims, but those people would have no power had we not given it to them.

morpheus christian conservatives elected obama

I have felt pleased with myself about not voting for Obama and his kind. That was dumb. I did vote for them. I lived for myself, wandering in futility and self-deceit. My supernatural vote was much more powerful than showing up in a booth and checking off boxes.

I am an Obama voter. And unless you had a strong prayer life before 2008, so are you.

I don’t watch the news any more. I pick things up on the web, but that’s about it. I don’t contribute money to campaigns. I’m not even sure I’ll stay in the NRA. But I will contribute where it counts: in private with God. I’ve been doing that for a number of years now, and I plan to continue.

My suggestion is that you quit deluding yourselves and start praying. Don’t start out by asking God to drop the boot on Obama. Start out by asking God very sincerely for correction. Repent. Beg him to show you what’s wrong with you. Ask him for his help in changing. Ask him to connect you with the Holy Spirit and to help you obey him. Ask him to cut off the spirits that rule you now.

If you don’t have a prayer life, you’re ruled by spirits that work for Satan. You may not realize it, and things may seem to be going well, but that just means Satan is leaving you to coast because you’re ineffective in God’s kingdom. Whenever he sees the need, he will take what you have and destroy you, and you will not be able to fix it.

This will be very helpful to you if you aren’t too arrogant to listen. If you’re arrogant, forget I wrote it and let the rest of us discuss it without interference.


One Bad Turn Deserves Another

September 18th, 2015

Exploring the Habits of the Chinese Woodchuck

I know I am a renowned CAD/CNC genius, so you probably think that’s all I do. WRONG. I’m still working on my plan to become a woodturner.

I used to look at guys who had lathes and think they were mentally ill. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but I thought they were kind of silly compared to men who did regular woodworking. Whatever you call woodworking that isn’t turning.

I thought, “These are eccentric old coots who drive around stealing stumps out of people’s garbage so they can make bowls you can’t actually use and Christmas ornaments their relatives throw out.”

That was actually correct.

Nonetheless, I had to use my metal lathe to make an oak bench dog the other day, and I realized I was wasting half of the machine’s potential. And woodturning produces useful things as well as strange crap. Often people who don’t turn wood use flat or rectangular parts in places where round parts will work better.

I started looking around and asking for advice on forums. The forums where I haven’t been preemptively banned yet for asking stupid questions.

I found out that a metal lathe will work quite well for wood. In some ways, it’s vastly superior to a wood lathe. It’s a billion times more ridgid. You can use the carriage to make precise parts. You can make threads with it.

I think I’m out of things it can do better.

Anyway, the pluses outweigh the minuses, so it’s definitely worth doing.

In order to make it work, I needed a tool rest. This is a thing that clamps on the lathe’s ways. A T-shaped “T rest” sits on it, and you rest your turning tool (“chisel”) on the T rest when you cut wood.

On a metal lathe, you use a heavy steel or iron tool post to hold tools for you, and the carriage moves the tool. On a wood lathe, you slide the chisel back and forth on top of the T.

There are chintzy ways of using a metal lathe tool post for a rest, but they’re stupid, so I decided to make a banjo.

Now you wonder what that means.

A banjo is the actual base of the tool rest. I’m pretty sure. It’s the part that sits on the ways.

Don’t ask me why they call it a banjo. Maybe it gets on people’s nerves and repels women.

I had some live oak trash lying around, and I decided to try to make the base of the banjo out of it. I sliced open a fairly green log and cut some pieces out on the table saw and band saw. Then I turned some pegs on the lathe and stuck them in one of the big parts. They go through two holes in the other parts, and they line the base up with the clampy thing that goes under the ways.

Some photos may help.

09 11 15 live oak for lathe banjo

09 13 15 live oak lathe clamp with pins added

09 18 15 lathe tool rest in progress after machining flat banjo deal

That last photo is a piece of angle iron I worked on today. I will fix an upright tube to it, with a set screw in it. The T rest, which I don’t have, will sit in the tube. I will run a 1/2″ bolt through the wooden base, and when I want to move the metal bit, I’ll loosen the bolt. Then I’ll clamp it down to fix it.

The live oak surprised me. It’s supposed to be garbage. They say it cracks and warps, but it hasn’t split since I cut it, and it doesn’t appear to be moving. It’s like titanium. I have to wonder if it’s stronger than aluminum.

I think the pegs are red oak. Not sure. I needed dowels, and Home Depot was out, so instead of a 36″ dowel that cost five bucks, I bought a 72″ roller handle for six bucks. The wood in the roller handle is really nice. Do they have red oak in China? I don’t know.

I’m planning to rig up a base for the T rest tube tomorrow, and then I’ll install the tube and start thinking about a rest. Maybe I should just buy one.

Chisels are not expensive. I learned a few things about them.

First, there are two main types of chisels. The first are carbon steel, also known as “crap.” That’s not exactly true, but carbon steel dulls fast. It will give you a nice finish, but you have to sharpen it a lot. The second type of chisel is high speed steel (“HSS”), which is what metal lathe tools are made of. It’s a lot harder, so it holds an edge better.

Second, there are two types of HSS chisels: Chinese and not Chinese.

You can get fairly good Chinese HSS chisels at Harbor Freight, or you can buy a brand called Benjamin’s Best, which is probably the same thing. People say they work okay.

I read some disturbing things about Chinese chisels, so I decided to look for some old Murican jobs. I found that old HSS Craftsmans were not hard to find, and they didn’t bring much money, so I sniped a set of 12 on Ebay. They will do unless and until I decide I need something else.

I also ordered a Supernova chuck. This is the biggest expenditure, by far. It was $175. That hurts a little, but consider the cost of a good metal lathe chuck that isn’t a Chinese compromise.

The wood chuck (woodchuck?) is probably Chinese, too, but I’m pretty sure that, unlike the Chinese metal lathe chuck, it’s not a compromise. It’s what a real lathe guy would use.

Anyway, for maybe $400, I should be totally tooled up, apart from minor elective doodads. That’s not bad at all.

I don’t plan to get heavily into this. I just want enough junk to do whatever little jobs come up. And I might do a little artistic turning. I may join the herd of eccentric garbage pile thieves. I already scoped out a pile of sea grape wood in front of a vacant house.

You can use a wood lathe to turn stone. How cool is that?

Here’s a guy whose work I really like. Don’t watch the video if you are a man, unless you’re immune to temptation. You might find yourself on Ebay in a day or two.

Wood lathes sell cheap on Craigslist all the time. Not trying to pressure you or anything. You know you want one.

I’ll post an update if I ever get this working. Something might happen as early as tomorrow.


Con-Fusion 360

September 17th, 2015

Behold my Box

I got some comments on the post about CAD problems, so I am here to tell about my progress.

The basic problem was that I had a good CAD program, a good CAM program, and no way to move files from one to the other. Alibre Design 2012, my CAD program, has a built-in upgrade incentive: you can’t use the files for anything. The formats will not export to CAM. My other CAD/CAM program, Dolphin, apparently has a CAD module which people consider nearly worthless. This is like having a jet with a blind pilot and a navigator with no tongue.

I went to the forums and got two suggestions: Onshape and Fusion 360. These programs are free.

When I checked the programs out, I learned some things, and I ruled Onshape out pretty quickly. Both programs have cloud storage. I do not like “the cloud.” There is no cloud. There are only servers, and if your stuff is in “the cloud,” that means it’s on someone else’s server, and that person, not you, controls it.

If you want to work on your own, without involving the cloud, you are working “offline.” Onshape does not support offline work.

If you work for a big company, and you have a T1 connection at work, or whatever kind of connection it is that they have now, and your Internet connection never goes down, AND you don’t mind having no privacy and no control over your data, then Onshare is probably great. On the other hand, if you live in South Florida, and the Internet goes out every time it rains, and you might want to design things without effectively submitting them to DHS for approval every time you work, then maybe Onshare is not for you.

I’m sure DHS can see anything it wants in my PC right now, but the idea of simply giving up all pretense of privacy is unsettling. And what if they decide my new pressure cooker design is a bomb, and they decide to confiscate it? What if I decide to design gun parts for 3D printing? What if they decide I’m not allowed to use the Internet because I refuse to eat new Gay Pride Rainbow-Colored Doritos (a real product)?

I just don’t like it. I don’t like the cloud.

I downloaded Fusion 360 and tried it out. It appears to be pretty good. So far it’s more intuitive than Alibre, and at $0, it’s cheaper by $400. It supposedly has CAM as well as CAD, but all I’ve done is draw a box with a hole in it, so I couldn’t tell you anything about that.

Fusion 360 is made by Autodesk, and it’s absolutely free, with all the bells and whistles, unless you start making money with it. Even then, you have to make $100,000 before they start charging you. I think I’m safe.

When you make a design, you can export it and put it on your PC, and you can use the program without an Internet connection. The files you create can be used by other programs, so you’re not an orphan if you somehow lose the use of Fusion 360.

I hate to show off and make people feel inferior, but here is the box I made. That only took like 3 hours.

09 17 15 fusion 360 box Capture

A couple of commenters suggesting Draftsight. I’m sure it’s wonderful. I can only master one CAD/CAM program per day, but I will try to look it over.

The people at Dolphin seem very nice, but I am not yet seeing the value of their program. Perhaps I’m wrong.

I will update if I get anywhere with this. Right now I have to go arm the pressure cooker and smoke some Cuban cigars.

Oh, wait. Those are legal now, right?



September 16th, 2015

I Should Have Taken up Knitting

I’m having fun today. And by “having fun,” I mean, “pulling my hair out and fantasizing about beating software engineers with a two-by-six.”

I have been trying to get up to speed on CAD and CAM, and it has not gone well.

A long time back, I bought Alibre Design, which is a modest CAD program. The interface is nice, and the learning curve is not terrible. They offered it for a low price, like a hundred bucks. I forget.

I learned how to draw parts, and then later I made a CNC lathe. And I found out that Alibre Design does not produce drawings that can be used for CNC.

You can imagine how crazy that is. We are in the midst of a CNC/”Making” revolution, and the primary reason for the existence of CAD is to tell machines how to make stuff. Creating a CAD program which doesn’t work with CNC is like creating a bladder with no openings in it. It is a recipe for suffering.

Last year I went crazy and bought Dolphin CAD and CAM. This is a set of programs that will take you all the way to the lathe or mill, pretty much. And because they have a special module for lathes, I figured it was the way to go. And the price was merely exorbitant, not astronomical. A lot of CAD and CAM programs have four-digit price tags, which is why people torture themselves with open source crap that takes ten years to learn. Dolphin was three digits.

I did not realize how annoying Dolphin’s CAD interface was. Alibre has 2D and 3D in the same window. You draw a part in 2D, and then you view it and rotate it, easily, in 3D. Dolphin is just 2D, unless I missed something. It’s not that easy, looking at a 2D drawing and visualizing a 3D product, especially if you can’t draw more than one side of the part.

As far as I can tell–and I may be wrong–Dolphin forces you to make a different drawing for each side of a part. Imagine doing that for a complex part. Highly aggravating.

Alibre only exports drawings in AD_PRT and STL format, and these formats are dead ends. I found a way to convert STL to DXF using a program called Blender, and you can import DXF into Dolphin. I’ll show you why that was a waste of time.

First, an Alibre part I drew.

stepper mount Capture

Now the drawing that came out when I exported to Dolphin.

stepper mount dolphin CAD abortion Capture

That’s all you get. That side. The other dimensions are gone.

I had to call Geomagic (the Alibre people) today about a licensing problem, and–this will shock you–they wanted to sell me new software! Yes, I was amazed, too. I asked them about the crazy format problem, and the lady said they used to have a program add-on that allowed file conversion, but it was “no longer available,” meaning, “We do not want to give it to you.” Great. I never heard about it.

She said the latest Geomagic Design (successor to my program) was only $400. Yes, because to me, $400 is like three cents is to ordinary mortals. It means nothing to me. I scoff at it. But I let her send me a download link so I could look at it.

I fired it up, converted the drawing to a format Dolphin likes, and imported it into Dolphin Partmaster 3D.

Again, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I think PM3D is useless for CAD. I could not find any CAD tools in the program. I believe all it does is import files, let you view them, and export them. I opened the part file, and PM3D allowed me to export 2D drawings from it. I chose a view that would work for a lathe, and I sent it to Partmaster CAD, which is the 2D program. Here is what I got:

dolphin CAD stepper mount 2D Capture

That is actually useful. I would have to trim it a little, because you’re not supposed to use both sides of a lathe profile in a CNC program. After all, the lathe only makes one cut, and it affects the entire surface of the round part. But it would work. I think.

Now I’m highly annoyed, but at least I can see a way out of this mess.

I don’t know what to do, but one thing is for sure: for the 15-day duration of the trial period, I will be using Geomagic to export everything in sight. Maybe I can find a cheaper solution before the time runs out. That would be nice.

If I can get this working, I’ll put the CNC lathe on its own cart and see if I can actually use it once in a while. That would be great.

After I give in and buy the new program–probably 10 minutes later–someone will tell me about a free program which does the same thing.

That can’t be helped.


Shelf Actualization

September 8th, 2015

I am Lathe to Complain

I feel like I need to put up a picture. I am finally almost done with the lathe shelf. Here it is.

09 07 15 lathe shelf on lathe still needs touchup

Don’t ask me why, but the camera picks up imperfections that are barely visible to the naked eye and makes them look huge. If you were here in person, you would think the shelf looked pretty good. Or at least you would say that, while backing away from me slowly. If you were smart.

Someone suggested there would be a problem changing chucks, because the key that turns the cams is obstructed. This is the one thing I didn’t think about. The one thing I didn’t think about that I know about as of today. But it turns out the key has enough freedom to open and close the pins, so I’m good. I can’t change the headstock oil without removing the shelf, but I knew that going in.

Fitting the floor tile was interesting. I learned that the upright parts of the shelf are not totally straight. Or the sides of the tiles were not totally straight. One or the other. I trimmed the tiles using a #4 hand plane. It works great.

Another interesting thing to be aware of, if you ever try to lay tile or anything else in a corner: you have to round off the corner of whatever you’re installing. The inside corners on the shelf are not sharp, but outside corners of things can be very sharp indeed, and they protrude and cause problems. In this case they would have lifted the corners of the tile up.

I am not totally happy with the adhesive that came stuck to the tiles. The wood under the tile is bare, so you would expect a good hold, but in some places it seems to want to rise up. I may have to look into an additional glue.

This will be great. It will get a lot of crap off of the floor and the table saw extension, and it will keep things where I can find them in a hurry. Notice the Allen wrenches. I drilled deep holes into the side of the shelf, just big enough for the two wrenches I use most. I may add new doodads to hold tools such as chuck keys. That would be helpful.

Some day I may sand the shelf down and improve the finish, but right now I have to get on with my life. I can’t dedicate another week to this thing. I still hate painting. I don’t know how anyone manages to do it right. I can sort of handle a spray gun, but brushes are beyond my comprehension.

Home Depot never has fasteners stocked or sorted correctly, so I could not get M8-1.25 x 65mm bolts to hold the shelf down. I had to buy 70mm bolts and grind them down with the bench grinder. Annoying. I had to modify fender washers for the bolts on the left side so they would not bang against the side cover. I made them D-shaped using the belt grinder, which is one of the three or four greatest tools in the universe.

Now I have to make a rolling cabinet for the CNC lathe. After that, I may pick up a few items and try woodturning.

I leave you with a clip from Tiny Trailer Workshop. If you don’t love this, you must not have a Y-chromosome.


pinocchio seed gift wife shoes


Shelf Improvement

September 5th, 2015

Painting Isn’t for Everyone

I am sitting here waiting for paint to dry.

I have been struggling to get the garage workshop working, as you know if you keep up with the blog. I believe it’s a metaphor for my own inner transformation.

When you get involved with tools, you have to accept a bitter truth: before you can use the tools to do stuff to other things, you have to use tools to work on your tools to get them ready.

I guess it sounds discouraging, but there is no way around it.

There are a number of things you can buy at the hardware store and then use without preparation, but it’s surprising how many things don’t work until you fix them up.

Consider chisels. You can buy a set of perfectly good ones today at Home Depot, but they won’t be sharp enough to use. Also, Home Depot doesn’t sell the tools you will need to sharpen them. Can you believe that? What could be simpler than a chisel? You would think they would be plug-and-play.

To sharpen a chisel, you need some kind of abrasive tool, and you need at least three levels of grit. You can use a bench grinder to do the rough sharpening, if you’re highly skilled. Then you have to go to a water stone or a diamond stone. Then you have to go to a stone with a grit rating somewhere above 4000.

In order for a Home Depot chisel to be considered ready to use, it has to be able to pop tiny hairs off of you, just like a razor.

I don’t know why Home Depot doesn’t sell decent sharpening tools. Probably because the average chisel user does very crude work.

I have lots of tools, but I haven’t been able to use them as much as I wanted to, because I didn’t prepare them or myself. So now I’m working on it.

On a spiritual level, I’m doing the same thing to myself.

People love to say that Jesus said, “Judge not,” meaning, “Never criticize anything anyone else does.” That’s not true. What he really said was that we should judge ourselves first, and he made it clear that once we did that, we were supposed to judge others so they could benefit from our advice. He didn’t say we should take the logs out of our own eyes and then go home. He said that when we took the logs out of our own eyes, we would then be able to help others take the splinters out of their eyes.

When you beg God for correction and humility, you’re taking the logs out of your eyes.

You shouldn’t expect things to go all that well until you begin accepting correction. Before God straightens you out, you will be led by the flesh, not the Spirit. You will not want to do God’s will. You’ll want to do whatever Satan tells your flesh to do. You will not have the spiritual fruit of self-control. So God will not have much interest in helping you. It would be enablement.

As you accept correction, the spirits that have controlled you your entire life will lose their power, and the Holy Spirit will gain ground inside you. Then you’ll start to have strength and success, because you’ll be doing things God supports.

Prayer in tongues is a constant flow of correction, so it’s vital. We are surrounded by stupid voices all day, every day. Prayer in tongues is God’s answer to that.

One of my shop problems is a lack of provision for lathe tool storage. I have a bunch of heavy lathe tool holders, plus two huge chucks. I also have Allen wrenches and other junk. I need to have this stuff near the lathe, and I need it to be handy, but tossing it on top of the headstock and dumping it on the table saw extension have turned out to be poor solutions to the problem.

I knew that other people had created extended wooden shelves to enlarge the tops of their headstocks. I decided to create a box with a shelf on top. The box would hold whichever chuck I was not using, and tools would go on the top shelf.

You can’t imagine the nightmare that began when I started work on this.

First of all, the thing needed to be about 17″ long in the shortest dimension. Trees are very skinny these days, so you can’t just walk into a store and ask for a board 3/4″ thick and 17″ or more wide. You have to use plywood, which looks crappy, or you have to make your own boards. Like an idiot, I chose the latter route.

To make a wide board, you have to take two narrow boards and glue them together side by side. This is more complicated than it sounds. You have to use a jointer on the edges that mate. Then you have to use a hand plane to put slight indentations on those edges, to create a spring joint.

A spring joint is what you get when you put glue on two concave surfaces and clamp them together forcefully so they touch. You remove a few thousandths of an inch from the edges of two boards before you glue them up. You can’t even see the concavity.

When I made my first board, I did not understand the purpose of spring joints, but now I get it. If you have two boards that aren’t concave, when you push them together, you may get a gap at one or both ends. It will be a tiny gap, but it will show up when you sand and paint the wood. If you make a spring joint, the boards will touch at the ends, so you won’t get gaps there.

It took me days to make enough boards for the shelf thing. I guess the reason is that I don’t have a lot of clamps. I would use three long clamps to make a board, and while it set up, I would be idle, because I couldn’t clamp a second board together.

Once the boards were made, I had to use planes and a scraper to get rid of the microscopic lines where the boards came together. I learned a great deal about plane marks.

When the boards were made, I had to use the table saw to cut them to size, and then I had to use a shooting board and a plane to make them truly square. In the process, I found out that my Incra table saw miter gauge was not square, so I had to fix that.

After all of that, I had to do some routing. I needed tongues and dadoes to fasten the boards together. My mistakes drove me nuts.

For one thing, a router bit in a router table will push wood away from your router fence if you push the wood from left to right. I did not know that. I thought that if I used a little force to hold the wood against the fence, I would be fine. That was totally wrong. The boards would move away from the fence a sixteenth or so, opening up the dadoes. It was infuriating.

Thank God, I was making the dadoes narrower than the boards that went in them. This makes the joints harder to see. That meant the big router gouges were covered when the boards went into the dadoes. But it was still annoying.

I also learned that you have to plan the way the grain of your boards runs when you design your piece. If you have end grain against long grain, you can’t glue it, because the end grain will suck up all the glue. It’s okay for joints that don’t receive stress, but other joints will require some sort of joinery, such as dadoes, to provide new gluing surfaces where long grain meets long grain.

I learned that soft wood is horrible. It’s harder to work than hardwood.

If you use a chisel on hardwood, it will cut it cleanly. If you use a chisel on softwood, going across the grain, the wood may compress and tear instead of cutting. It’s like using a bread knife to cut a stack of Kleenex.

If you use a router bit in hardwood, it leaves a clean edge behind. In softwood, you may get a furry edge that needs to be sanded a lot.

Scrapers, which are incredibly useful, don’t work very well on softwood. That’s annoying, because they’re great for cleaning up glue lines and erasing plane scratches.

You also have to be careful about making grooves, slots, and dadoes in softwood, because if you get too close to the edge of a board, you will have a very thin wall of softwood on the outboard side, and it won’t support your tongue very well. Also, the router may kick the wood completely out when you’re making the dado.

I learned that poplar is stupid.

Poplar is a hardwood, but it’s not hard. It’s not a softwood, but it’s a soft wood. It’s about like pine in its consistency. I used some in the shelf because I thought it was the cheapest hard wood available, but it turned out to be a bad buy. It’s more expensive than pine, and it’s actually softer than the better pine grades. It’s very ugly, so it has to be painted. And it has all the problems pine has when you start trying to shape it.

I’m not sure what poplar is good for, but you can get clear pine for the same price, and it looks better.

It took me forever to get the shelf together, and then I had to deal with painting it. That’s where I am right now.

I wanted to use a tough blue paint that would shed oil. I decided to go with oil-based Rust-Oleum. I really wanted to do it right. But it looks pretty bad right now.

First of all, even though the primer I used is supposed to work fine with oil-based paint, there are little places where the paint just does not want to stick. I’m going to have to give it like 10 coats in those areas. Second, this paint is the farthest thing from self-leveling. It leaves huge ripples behind, and sanding doesn’t seem to budge them. Third, it drips like crazy.

I’ve also had problems trying to get up to speed with the art of painting, itself.

I’ve never been able to get a grip on cleaning brushes. I’ve generally thrown them out. The paint always goes way up under the ferrule, and you can never get all of it out. It takes a huge amount of thinner to clean a brush, and it’s a pain to deal with.

I got some instruction. It turns out you’re supposed to prepare a brush for painting by soaking it in mineral spirits. This goes up under the ferrule and takes the space paint would otherwise occupy. It will keep the paint from going up there and hardening. I can’t believe I got this old and didn’t know that. No one told me! And you can look at websites all day and never see this information.

I found a video that explained it, but the guy in the video took the brush straight from the mineral spirits to a container of varnish and started painting. I had to ask about that. Obviously, it’s wrong, because the thinner on the brush will thin the paint you’re trying to apply. So you have to get the excess thinner off the bristles. Something he should have mentioned, right?

No wonder people consider brushes disposable.

I have been working on the paint for days, and it’s still not done. I finally decided to settle for a garage-grade finish. Maybe once the shop is working properly, I can make a new shelf. But I have to get this thing done and use it, or I will lose my mind.

I would really like to do things right, but I’m going to have to start accepting my limitations. Once in a while, “okay” will have to be an acceptable substitute for “perfect but unattainable.”

09 01 15 lathe shelf ready for paint

In other news, my new old church is getting weirder.

They have a prayer line. I used to be part of the prayer team. They’re supposed to call a conference line three times a week and pray for the church and so on.

I quit the team months ago. I felt like they were praying in an ineffective way, without solid guidance from the Holy Spirit. You’re not supposed to pray for two seconds for everyone on earth. You’re supposed to let the Holy Spirit choose your battles. You pray for the things he tells you to pray for, the way he wants you to do it. They were taking kind of a shotgun approach. Also, most people weren’t showing up. Usually there were only three people on the line. The pastors and the “house prophet” didn’t participate regularly, which makes you wonder what the pastors were being paid to do.

A lot of people wonder what the pastors are being paid to do. The impression many people have is that during the week they do absolutely nothing but go to the spa, travel, and visit restaurants.

I didn’t say anything critical when I left the prayer line. I just quit and said I felt like I should be doing something else.

I have a friend from the Panhandle, and she has been very good to the church. Although she wasn’t a member, she helped them financially and drove down to visit from time to time, and she was a hard core prayer line warrior.

Last week, the pastor’s wife changed the prayer line number and didn’t give it to her. Something about wanting to confine participation to church members. To be clear, she was deliberately cut out.

You have to realize, this woman was not my puppet. She wasn’t calling the prayer line and telling them how bad the pastors were for rejecting me. She was just praying. But now she’s out.

They cut another person out. She’s a young woman with some type of mental retardation. I don’t know what the proper name is. It’s not Down Syndrome. She’s very sweet, and she is a very sincere Christian. She has visions. She sees angels. She wanted to be on the church’s dance team, but they wouldn’t allow her to perform. I don’t know why. It’s not the Bolshoi Ballet. It should not be hard to qualify. If you’re not good enough to dance for God, at a tiny church which is currently failing, where, exactly, can you expect to be accepted? You can’t shoot any lower.

She and her mother eventually left the church. But the young woman continued with the prayer team. Sometimes she was one of only two people who called in. Now she’s out!

How a preacher can want FEWER people to pray for a church is beyond me. That’s a new one in my experience. The church is sinking. They are losing dedicated people. Their planned moves to bigger buildings got squashed. The air conditioning in the tiny room where they meet is out, and knowing the landlords, it may be another two weeks before it works again. It appears that their orphanage in Haiti has gone nowhere. The prayer team is nearly gone. Is this really the time to ramp up the ostracism?

I don’t know what to think about it, but I’m glad I got pulled out.

My plan for my own life is to keep asking for correction. It’s working beautifully. It makes life easier, except for painting. It’s what we all need. It’s what Jesus died for.

I can’t do anything for people who are convinced they’re already perfect. If God’s methods of improving people involved grabbing them against their will, opening them up, and replacing parts, it would be easy to help others, but unfortunately, most of it relies on their willingness to listen.

As for me and the people close to me, we keep getting new revelation, and things keep improving. I feel better. I have more success. I worry less. Doors are opening so I can get out of Miami.

I have learned that when there is an area where I fail consistently, God is trying to teach me a lesson, and when I finally learn it, he will let me move forward and succeed. This is what happened to the Hebrews under Moses. They walked in circles and died in the desert, but the ones who had not rejected God’s counsel were allowed into the Promised Land.

I still have no interest in joining a new church. Maybe some day.

If I get this crazy shelf put together, I’ll put up a photo. I can’t wait to see it on top of the lathe, with all my junk stuffed into it.



August 1st, 2015

This May Start to Get Old in a Few Years

It has been 2 weeks since I learned I was not welcome at the church I belonged to. It has been an interesting time.

There is now no doubt that I was not wanted. I haven’t heard a peep from any of the pastors. I still can’t see the head pastor’s Facebook page.

I got a call from a buddy who is a minister (a level or two below pastors), but I would have heard from him anyway. He was a friend before I started attending that church, and I’ll still hear from him when he’s attached to a new organization.

I tried sending the pastors an electronic message a while back. I believe that was after I quit as a volunteer but before they blocked me on Facebook. I am not sure. Anyway, I could not get it to go through.

Later on, I realized it wasn’t my job to chase them. I’m older than they are, and they were very disrespectful to me several times in public. Older people are generally not supposed to run around after younger people, trying to get their forgiveness. It sets a poor example. It may be okay to do that once or twice, but eventually you start sending a message that it’s okay to be nasty to older people.

The Bible says to go to people who have something against you, but that is not a law. The Spirit-led do not have laws to follow. It’s a general guideline which will usually line up with the Holy Spirit. I was pulled out of the church by the hand of God, and I am not supposed to screw that up by going back in a carnal way and trying to fix something that should stay broken. This was a rescue.

I have a young friend who comes by for prayer sessions, and apparently there was a shocking verbal altercation between him and the head pastor. It happened in the parking lot. Someone actually called me so I could intervene. She was concerned the police might show up. She said she became aware there was a serious problem because the pastor started screaming. He’s about 20 years older than the young man he was talking to.

He drew inappropriately close, and my friend threatened to defend himself, in no uncertain terms.

When things calmed down, there was forgiveness and love and prayer and the whole nine yards, but you can’t unring a bell. There will be consequences.

My friend says he regrets using bad language and losing his temper. He takes responsibility for that and says it was wrong.

Is this gossip? Well…can you say something was private after you chose to do it in the open air in front of a large group of people? If you go to church to speak to the public, and you’re happy when they know about the things you say that make you look good, you probably shouldn’t complain if the crazy things you say are also heard.

This friend had a great revelation the other day, and he shared it with me. Whether a bad experience is a test or a punishment depends on your attitude. If you’re proud and you refuse to learn whatever it is God is teaching you, then it’s just punishment, and it won’t do you any good.

This is a problem for a preacher who is too proud to admit fault.

The argument could be a big blessing to him. He could tell the church, “I lost my temper and behaved childishly. I have a problem with self-control and pride, and if you have the same problem, you need to work on it. We need to get God to help us fix ourselves.” That would please God and get him involved in recovery.

On the other hand, if he and his wife decide the problem is with my young friend, God won’t help them. He will fight them. Word of what happened is surely moving through the church, and while it won’t affect the sycophants, it will poison other people against the leadership. If people who have a little discernment or common sense don’t see proper steps taken, they will probably take steps of their own, through the doors of other churches.

I don’t expect them to bend. I get no indication of that from God. The little I know about their response to the situation is not encouraging.

I think this whole mess was from God. I don’t think he tells people to get in silly fights, but he definitely uses them. He did that in the Bible.

I wasn’t going to get into all of that today. What I started to say was that I was disappointed to hear that the argument was partly about me; the person the pastors don’t talk to.

I am not their problem. I’m a symptom.

If you have time to make a fool of yourself over me in a parking lot, you should have time to involve me in the matter at some point. If you have time to bother other people or send other people to talk to me, you should have time to deal with me personally. Or you should move on and let it go.

This happened at Trinity Church, too. They had secret meetings about me, and of course I was told later, because you can’t keep things quiet in a church. I will give Rich Wilkerson credit; for all his shortcomings, he did communicate with me before I left. But he should not have bothered other people about me once I was gone.

The application to my own life is that I am aware that my problems are messages from God. Whether or not he is directly causing the evil I experience, he at least consents to it. It’s not random. He limits and steers things to achieve a purpose. I can’t complain about my suffering if I cause it by refusing to listen.

You can say it’s not my fault. You can say human beings don’t know what God is saying. That’s an excuse. For almost thirty years, I’ve known I was supposed to be praying in tongues every day. That would have helped me hear his voice and fix my problems. There is no way to evade responsibility.

The curses in our lives often reflect curses we put on God. This was true in Eden, and it’s true now. Adam and Eve made God’s life difficult, so he did the same thing to them. Adam refused to submit, so God made wives rebellious. Adam made it hard for God to give birth to new children, so God made childbirth difficult. Adam gave rise to a race of rebels, so God made the earth bring forth weeds and briars.

The things I hate about my life, and which I have still not overcome, must be connected to my failings in some way.

That’s wonderful information to have. It can help me receive healing, deliverance, victory, and peace. It can help me become like God in my heart.

If I’m blessed, as the grinning TV preachers say, why do I still have problems? How can I be overweight, lazy, lustful, fearful, impulsive, disorderly and so on? Maybe I don’t have major problems in all these areas, but I am not what I should be. I’m not even remarkable by ordinary human standards. Is this really how God wants me to be?

I should have more self-control. I should be cleaner inside. It’s not much to ask of me.

It’s very bad that people I know are failing. It’s unfortunate that I have to back off because I can’t help them. But it’s very good that I can learn from their failures.

I keep finding that I have more and more authority over myself. That’s powerful, because most of our problems are self-inflicted. We can’t control ourselves, and control over yourself is where power over everything else starts.

If I am willing to continue confronting my flaws and attacking them with God’s help, I can become stronger and better inside. That will cause my outward circumstances to improve, and it will humiliate those who seek to harm me.

As for my friend, his time at the church is over. He and the pastor have forgiven each other, but you know how that works. There are some breaks you can’t fix, even with genuine forgiveness. Sometimes a person’s behavior tells you that even if you forgive that person, he is not someone you can tolerate in your inner circle.

I am enjoying the rest from church. God is showing me I need to examine pastors carefully and brutally in the future. I should ask them provocative questions and walk away if they bristle or close up. “How much is your salary?” “How much money does the church take in every week?” “Is your wife well-behaved?” “Do you pray in tongues every day?” If they’re offended, they’re too big for their britches. I don’t accept that kind of people any more.

If you would not want a pastor as a friend, do not accept him as a pastor. If he is a pain in the behind, if he is childish, if he has to be babied, if he is spoiled, if he is selfish…stay away. I don’t care if he raises the dead. He will mess you up.

I don’t know what I’ll do on Sunday. I am not worried about it. Maybe God will extend my rest another month. That would be wonderful.


Another Round for the Great Whore, Please

July 28th, 2015

Planned Parenthood has Company

If you pray in tongues, God will eventually start filling you with all sorts of smart thoughts.

You don’t have to be a naturally bright person to benefit from God’s wisdom. It generally sounds like common sense once you hear it. The main breakthrough is not an increase in intelligence; it’s a new ability to hear the obvious.

One of the things God has shown me is that you have to be careful whom you choose to lead you.

If you go to a fool’s church and then listen to, and support, foolishness, you will be an accomplice. God will eventually hold you accountable. You’re supposed to get baptized with the Holy Spirit and develop a prayer life, and when that happens, the clouds will start to part. If you don’t do this, it’s your own fault, so you pay the price.

I am very sorry I helped prosperity preachers and feel-good preachers. I am very sorry I helped preachers who were proud and stubborn, and who taught that God would bless people without correcting them.

Earlier today, I said I felt as though I had worked at abortion clinics.

Right now, Christians are upset because they just learned that Planned Parenthood executives try to profit from the sale of organs taken from murdered babies. It’s right to be upset. But the same thing happens every day in the offices of misguided preachers across America, and we treat them like gods. They eat the flesh and drink the blood of God’s children.

I felt that I should look at Habakkuk today. Here is some of what I saw:

“Write down the vision clearly on tablets,
so that even a runner can read it.

For the vision is meant for its appointed time;
it speaks of the end, and it does not lie.
It may take a while, but wait for it;
it will surely come, it will not delay.

“Look at the proud: he is inwardly not upright;
but the righteous will attain life through trusting faithfulness.

Truly, wine is treacherous;
the arrogant will not live at peace
but keeps expanding his desires like Sh’ol;
like death, he can never be satisfied;
he keeps collecting all the nations for himself,
rallying to himself all the peoples.

Won’t all these take up taunting him
and say about him, in mocking riddles,
‘Woe to him who amasses other people’s wealth! —
how long must it go on? —
and to him who adds to himself the weight
of goods taken in pledge!

Won’t your own creditors suddenly stand,
won’t those who make you tremble wake up?
You will become their spoil.

Because you plundered many nations,
all the rest of the peoples will plunder you;
because of the bloodshed and violence done
to the land, the city and all who live there.

“‘Woe to him who seeks unjust gain for his household,
putting his nest on the heights,
in order to be safe from the reach of harm.

By scheming to destroy many peoples,
you have brought shame to your house
and forfeited your life.

For the very stones will cry out from the wall,
and a beam in the framework will answer them.

“‘Woe to him who builds a city with blood
and founds a town on injustice,

so that people toil for what will be burned up,
and nations exhaust themselves to no purpose.
Isn’t all this from Adonai-Tzva’ot?

For the earth will be as full
of the knowledge of Adonai’s glory
as water covering the sea.

“‘Woe to him who has his neighbor drink,
adds his own poison and makes him drunk,
in order to see him naked.

You are filled with shame, not glory.
You, drink too, and stagger!
The cup of Adonai’s right hand
will be turned against you;
your shame will exceed your glory.

For the violence done to the L’vanon
will overwhelm you,
and the destruction of the wild animals
will terrify you;
because of the bloodshed and violence done
to the land, the city and all who live there.’”

This message is about believers, not the unsaved.

People like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copeland have taught despicable lies in order to make their neighbors drunk and strip away their protection so they can be plundered. The prosperity gospel doesn’t make us rich. In fact, it keeps us poor by giving God incentive to work against our success. The liars on TV teach it, not from a loving desire to help us, but from simple greed and, sometimes, the evil pleasure of making other people seem like fools.

Yesterday I was reminded of the story of Belshazzar. He inherited the kingdom of Babylon, and he had a drunken party at which he and his friends used the golden vessels of the temple to drink to their false gods. A hand appeared and wrote a message of condemnation on the wall, and even as Daniel was interpreting it, the city was being sacked.

Vessels are people. Vessels from the temple are people who are dedicated to God.

The pimps we see on TV drink our blood and leave us empty. They treat that which should he holy as though it were common; this is said to be the essence of blasphemy.

These people fooled me many times. I supported some truly slimy preachers. Even Robert Tilton! You can’t sink any lower than that.

As I got more discernment, I saw the problems with the preachers who were obviously idiots, but I was still fooled by people whose issues were more subtle.

Brains didn’t help me. Hell is full of intelligent people. The Holy Spirit changed my perception gradually, and one benefit of the slowness of the process is that it prevents me from thinking I did it myself. If brains could have saved me, I would never have believed any of them. I would have been quick to spot the frauds.

Who makes you most angry in this world: people who have always hated you, or people who hate you and pretend to be your friends? Who causes you more rage? A random enemy, or a traitor who once had your trust?

God is the same way. When he complains about the whore of Babylon sitting on seven hills, drinking the blood of the saints, he’s not talking about Buddhists and witches. He’s talking about Jews and the church. We were supposed to be on his side, helping his children grow. Instead, many people who were supposed to serve the Lord aborted his children and consumed their wealth.

I couldn’t see this clearly a few years ago. It gets clearer with time. God tells me things while I pray.

He also told me that before I listen to a preacher, I should look at his wife, his children, and his business. If he is a fool as a father, husband, and manager of his church, he is going to teach me to be a fool, too. It’s hard to rise higher than your master.

The men who lead the church I left in 2012 and the church I was squeezed out of recently have serious issues as men. They mismanage. There are problems with their families. There are spoiled children and wives who don’t know their place.

You can’t force your wife or children to become mature, but these men haven’t really made a good effort. You can’t force a church to succeed, but you can avoid stupid mistakes and a Mickey Mouse approach. You can have real bookkeeping. You can publish reports. You can disclose and explain. You can listen to good counsel instead of persecuting people who try to warn you.

These lessons apply to me, too. I really have no character. I do okay, but I lack self-control. I am not really responsible; I just do what I have to do in order to avoid chaos. I am not brave. I am impulsive. If I had a wife and a child right now, what would I be able to offer them?

I sat under people who were a little silly, so I am a little silly myself.

I have one thing that guarantees my success: the right direction. I’m listening to God, I have a strong prayer life, and I am being built up. That’s all anyone can ask for. If your direction is sound, regardless of where you are now, you will eventually be in a better place.

If you’re listening to Joel Osteen or Benny Hinn, turn that crap off. It’s killing you and your family. Tune T.D. Jakes out.

Look at the people you admire. Are they humble? Would you be proud to be married to their spouses or to be the parents of their children? Do you find yourself making excuses for them? If you don’t like the answers to these questions, it’s not disloyalty. It’s common sense. It’s something unbelievers have and Christians lack.

Before you give anything to anyone, ask yourself what they’ve done with what they already have. That’s what they’ll do with your gift. If you give them your heart, ask yourself how many earnest hearts they’ve crushed already. If you give them your money, ask yourself if you’re happy with the things they’ve already done with money.

Trinity Church in Miami once blew over $70,000 on flashing lights for the stage, but they have no real outreach to the poor. The church I just left is trying to open an orphanage in Haiti, but they haven’t even admitted they failed at running two new churches here in the US.

This time, orphans may be affected by their actions; children who should never be given false hope. I can’t give these people money and trust them with desperate children after the failures they’ve already experienced. I’m not going to roll the dice with that kind of suffering at stake.

I’m far from alone. No one will go up to the pastors and speak, because they expect to be scolded or ignored, but a number of people are less than enthusiastic about the orphanage. One is even less sanguine that I am; this person doesn’t even expect the orphanage to open. I figured it would open and then struggle.

I am told the church’s plan to move to a new building failed. That’s even worse than I expected.

God only invests in success. This is why he said those who had a lot would be given more, and those who had little would lose even that. Anyone can bless, and anyone can curse, but many people can’t be blessed. They destroy whatever you give them. God does not invest in those people. Neither should you.

If you don’t know what your church pays your pastor, stop giving money. If you have no idea what their other expenditures are, stop enabling them. There are only two possibilities for failing to disclose this information: irresponsibility or a desire to cover up embarrassing things. If you can’t trust me with an explanation of what you do with my money, why should I trust you with the money itself?

This is wisdom. It’s not from me (perhaps I repeat myself). It’s from God. Do not invest in failure. Look for momentum. Look for some indication that the people you invest in are moving in the right direction.

The prosperity preachers and their sheep are headed for disaster. I don’t know what form it will take, but it’s certain. Why? Because they are weak. They have no strength to react to attacks or defend themselves. They’re not praying in tongues, so they lack faith and prophetic warnings. They lack humility, so they don’t listen to people who do hear from God. When the find out they’re sinking, they will not have enough faith to make their declarations and prayers work. They will have driven off the Spirit-filled people who could have helped. They will be the tail, not the head.

The prosperity people trust in money, which is the same as trusting in Satan. They are trusting their enemy to take care of them. He’s just fattening them up to make the slaughter more fun. It’s like raising a noose to a great height so the prisoner will splatter when the rope is cut.

Now that I think about it, that’s exactly what happened to Judas!

God showed me something interesting a day or so ago. When a leader is proud, he will be the person in the organization who knows the least about what’s really going on. Why? Because no one will tell him anything. They get tired of being yelled at, ostracized, ridiculed, and ignored. So they tell everyone but the leader. When the ice breaks, everyone will be ready except for the people who are in charge! That’s the exact opposite of how things are supposed to be.

A relative of mine got a terrible roof job a few years back. He started having leaks. I told him he needed to get it fixed. He was unreceptive, to put it nicely. Over time, his ceiling collapsed in six places. Finally, he got it fixed. He had to pay for indoor repairs as well as the roof itself. If he had been willing to listen, he could have saved thousands of dollars.

When you get to know a person like that, you learn to shut up and watch disasters occur.

This is the mindset I dealt with at my last two churches.

Last night I dreamed my dad and I were going to the same place. He started running. He was wearing a suit. I imagined I was in a car, and my feet left the ground, and I started moving. Parts of the car started materializing, and eventually, I was driving a whole car. I pulled up next to my dad to see if he wanted a ride, and he waved me off.

That dream may have had relevance to my biological father, but it wasn’t about him.

If you don’t learn to hate pride, you will always be a failure. You will never learn anything in time to profit from it. I screwed my life up pretty well by choosing not to pray. Maybe you’re younger than I am, and you can avoid my mistake.

I am getting used to stepping back and watching people fail, and God is helping me not to have misplaced pity. You’ll have to get used to it, too.

I wouldn’t worry about it. A thousand years from now, no one will be thinking about the self-inflicted disasters we are witnessing today.


A Curious Welcome

July 22nd, 2015

Charismatics are Poor Hosts

I had a funny idea and went to the meme generator again.

flop on floor meme

This morning I was thinking about the way we treat God, and this is exactly what came to me. We’re supposed to be his children. Imagine how you would feel if you went to visit your kids, and they turned the stereo way up and started rolling on the carpet.

You: Hi, son! We decided to surprise you, and…


You: Anyway,your mom and I thought you could use some help setting up the nursery…

Son: [on floor with stereo at 9000 decibels] HELP ME DAD HELP ME DAD HELP ME DAD HELP ME DAD



You: I guess we’ll see you at Christmas.


This is really what God goes through. People are so worked up, pretending they feel his presence, that they can’t hear a thing he says. They have no idea what it’s like to hear from God, so they don’t realize excessive noise, coupled with histrionics, makes it impossible to focus on him.

God wants to talk to you. He wants to be close to you. He wants you to come to him for advice and correction. How can you do that when you’re bellowing like a pig that backed into an electric fence? Seriously, imagine trying to talk to someone and having them scream and jerk and flail their arms. That’s not a relationship. That’s superstition and fakery.

Day before yesterday I was thinking about the failed prosperity gospel, and I had this thought:

batman seed gift

Prosperity preachers go to churches where people have been tithing and giving offerings for years without seeing any financial increase, and they tell us to give “seed gifts,” and we pony up. We don’t even look at our track record!

Imagine this. A salesman comes to the door and says he’ll blacktop your driveway for a thousand dollars. He has paid you a visit every year for thirty years. Every year, you gave him the money. He never did the job. But you pay him again!

Am I the only one who sees a problem here?

And what about people who testify about getting fifty or a hundred bucks unexpectedly, after offering five hundred and being told to expect a thirtyfold return, minimum? They do this all the time.

You can believe anything if you can’t hear from the Holy Spirit. It’s nothing short of amazing. And I have been fooled many times myself, so if you want to tell me I’m not in a position to judge, I can’t argue with you.

Interesting stuff is happening at my new old church. My old church is Trinity, in Miami Gardens. I just got nudged out of a different church, so the one I just left is my new old church.

I have been told repeatedly that people are praying for me, as if they found out I had started using heroin. I may be mistaken about their opinions; maybe they think I’m on the right track. But I don’t know, because no one talks to me. I have invited people to ask me what happened, but only about four have taken me up on it.

Churches can develop a cult mentality. There may be 3,000 churches in a city, but if you leave ONE church and look for another one, the people there may think you’ve sold your soul to the devil. They may think you’ve abandoned the keepers of the One True Flame.

A lot of good stuff happened at New Dawn, but there are millions of people in my area, and I guarantee you, there are other churches that are at least as good. We’re all supposed to be on the same team, so we shouldn’t see all other churches as dens of demonic weirdness.

A number of people who were close to the inner circle have left, and while they didn’t receive a heap of abuse, when they came back for visits, somehow they were often chosen to receive a word from God, and those words tended to involve messages about how they would always be welcome and so on. Sounded like hints to me. And the pastors were clearly upset when one of the singers left. I don’t know if that was a personal thing or they were just worried about losing a performer who anchored the music team.

When a church is struggling, every departure probably scares the pastors.

Anyway, I have a feeling many of the prayers are about my apparent apostasy. People are even praying about a friend of mine, who hasn’t done a thing. People keep calling this person and grabbing them by the arm to say, “We’re praying for you,” and, “Pastor is praying for you.” This person hasn’t left the church or indicated a desire to do so. No one has provided a reason for the sudden wave of prayer. It started happening as soon as I got pushed out.

When I left Trinity, people thought I had enlisted in the devil’s army, and then thirty or forty of them followed me to the other church. Draw your own conclusion.

I got a revelation about this. God does not like to see false teachers and false prophets get credit. If you believe them, God may choose not to bless you, even though you’re trying to do the right thing. If he blesses you for giving Benny Hinn a blasphemous prosperity offering, he knows you will testify about it, and then other people will be led into sin.

Sometimes God will take you away from people who are out of line because he wants to bless you and he does not want them to take the credit.

Astonishing things are happening in my life. If I had been pulled into the inner circle at church, I might have thought their teachings brought it about. I might have testified to that effect. Then other people would have been deceived.

Instead, I know that what’s happening to me is happening in spite of them, not because of them.

When I was a physics teaching assistant, the head T.A. told me students were allowed to collaborate on lab reports, but they were separated during the final exam, because when you separate the cars, you find out who’s pulling the train.

That’s how life is. We work together in the church, but we are all judged alone!

You have to be really careful about the people you set up as your authorities. You have to pray for God to guide you to the right ones, and you have to pray for him to correct them. If they turn out to be impossible to correct, get out, because you will share in their judgment here on earth.

If that sounds unfair, think of all the chances God gave your ancestors. He may have given you a lot of chances, too. You should know a few things by now. Learning is your responsibility.

God is incapable of listening to an excuse. When you stand in front of him and you start blaming other people for your lack of knowledge, it will be worse than if you said nothing at all.

It appears that God gives us the churches we deserve, and then if we learn, we graduate, and he puts us in more advanced ones. That makes sense, since we all have to graduate from the earth eventually.

Keep praying in tongues. If you can’t pray in tongues, pray for help with that. Keep asking God for correction. Keep asking him to help you see your faults. Ask him to help you confess and repent. Ask him to remove the faults from you and to fill you with his nature and desires. This is what works. The seed gifts and holy rolling are just distractions intended to prevent you from finding the door.


Someone Come Get the School Bus

July 19th, 2015

The Driver is Taking a Walk

It looks like I’m not welcome at my church now.

Yesterday when I started checking the web to see what the world was up to, I decided to see what my pastors were saying on Facebook. I had quietly unfollowed them weeks earlier, but I had a practice of checking on them from time to time.

I unfollowed them, which means I was still their Facebook friend but did not see their posts on my feed, because I was tired of some of the things they were posting. They kept putting up photos of their leisure time, which appeared to be copious. They were at this restaurant or that restaurant, while other people–the folks who pay their bills–were working or taking care of other responsibilities. They were at the beach. They were at the spa. And they posted stuff from a false prophet named Doug Addison. It was relentlessly, mindlessly positive stuff; he thinks God is thrilled with what Christians are doing, which is facially absurd.

When I saw these things, I felt I was seeing how ineffectual I was at the church. I was growing, but I couldn’t tell the leaders anything helpful.

Yesterday when I checked on them, I couldn’t find their page. I think you know what that means. I had been blocked. My pastors blocked me on Facebook.

What do you say about a thing like that? The church has maybe fifty adult members who attend regularly. Everyone knows each other. If you go to Steve Munsey’s gigantic church, and he blocks you on Facebook, you still go to church, because he will have no idea you’re there. It’s different when the church is small and maybe 25% of the members are relatives of the pastors.

I haven’t been told what I did to provoke this. It had nothing to do with my blog, because I don’t get any hits from Miami.

I didn’t go to church today. It would be way too awkward. I knew I was on my way out, but I had assumed I would be directed to another church before leaving this one. I got pushed out without warning.

Today I got up and had a lovely McDonald’s breakfast and watched Dennis Gage on My Classic Car, and then I turned on some Julie True music and prayed in the Spirit and with my understanding. I assume the church is receiving another sermon right now, about the necessity for loud, obnoxious worship music. I didn’t have to deal with that.

It was wonderful. I didn’t realize what a battle church had been.

Often, I’ve sat at church praying God would correct them and help them find his peace. I have been jarred by horrible bellowing as well as sudden bursts from a shofar a very loud lady brings to church. A shofar is a ram’s horn with a harsh tone. She can only play B-flat. I know that because a music team member with perfect pitch told me; the inappropriate randomly timed blasts were getting to him.

I have dealt with a lot of provocation at these times. It’s a little like being a school bus driver. I wanted to enjoy God’s peace and love, and instead I was fighting people who were ignorant and immature. I don’t know of a nice word for “ignorant.” I don’t mean it in a nasty way. They didn’t know what they were doing. That’s what I mean. And I couldn’t tell them different, because they would not listen.

Today was so different. I drifted into God’s warmth and peace. I felt like I couldn’t get up. I still feel the peace. And while I was sitting there enjoying it, I realized why it was so good. I wasn’t surrounded by people who were fighting with me. The kids weren’t there. This must be what it’s like when you’re married and you run off for a weekend with your wife.

It’s spectacular. It’s wonderful. I see what I’ve been missing. It’s so nice to put people down and let them wander off in the directions they chose. It’s so pleasant to be with God alone for a while.

God just showed me that this is what he deals with. It’s like feeding babies. It’s an honor to be blessed with a baby and to feed it, but it will spit food back at you, throw tantrums, and pee on you. Those things aren’t fun. When you can get away from the baby and have a meal with an adult, it’s a big, big deal. And it’s okay. You don’t have to carry the baby 24/7.

Am I being critical of the people at my church? Yes. Sorry; that’s how it is. I won’t pretend I’m not. They need to get it together. They need to learn to respect people who hear from God.

What would the church be like if they had services like the experience I had today? I can’t even imagine. People would be growing. They would be receiving and sharing revelation. They would be clearing their heads of the lies of the prosperity preachers and false prophets. They would live in power and victory. They would feel God’s love and peace instead of pretending. It would be so beautiful.

Can’t do it. I can’t make them receive a blessing.

Someone sent me a horrifying picture this morning. The church is raffling off a piece of jewelry to finance the orphanage one of the pastors is trying to open. It’s not a pretty piece of jewelry; I wonder if a man picked it out. Anyway, they’re having a game of chance, at a church. Crazy.

Charities use auctions all the time. I see nothing wrong with that, as long as they don’t do it during church services. But a raffle? That’s gambling, and gambling is bad. It opens supernatural doors. And here is a big difference between auctions and gambling: if you are confident that someone will pay for what you have, you won’t be afraid to have an auction. Raffles are a con job to motivate people who otherwise would not donate.

It’s not good. I was startled when I saw it, and so was the person who told me about it.

I am looking around for a new church. I will not be a deacon. I will not clean toilets. I will not be an usher. I will walk in, sit down, give whatever God tells me to give, and leave when he tells me to leave. If they do crazy things, I will be quiet about it, except outside of church. I’m not going to start dragging people again. I’ll wait for God to send me people who are willing to stand and walk.

The peace and freedom are tremendous. I will be very careful about risking losing them.

I hope this is helpful, as always. Don’t mistake an organization for your tie to God. Don’t mistake a church for the body of Christ. Don’t mistake carnal chores for your work in the kingdom. Don’t feel that you have to stick with people long after they’ve made it clear they can’t be helped.

Knowing whom to drop is more beneficial than knowing whom to pick up.


The World, as it Really Is

July 18th, 2015

We are All Dumpster Divers

I had a remarkable night last night. For that matter, remarkable things happen to me all the time, but I don’t write about all of them.

I had a bad dream. I dreamed I was with people from my high school, at some sort of reunion.

I am not one of those individuals who wants to hang around with high school classmates. I had a good time in high school, since it was a place where I could goof off and escape my family, but my classmates were hard, worldly people. I don’t want to rekindle anything. I don’t think they have anything of value to give me. I don’t feel like justifying the strange choices I’ve made. They couldn’t possibly understand.

An aggressive girl who was less attractive than she believed was sitting next to me in a jazz bar. I don’t go to bars. This girl was a composite of people I knew. I would compare her to an Ally Sheedy character in a movie. A B-student, at best. Not chearleader material, but not singled out for being homely. Shrill. Talkative. A shrew in the making.

She was criticizing my life, telling me I wasn’t “much at fulfillment.” She was trying to convince me I had accomplished nothing. I asked her who she thought she was, telling me how to live. I asked her why she thought I owed her anything. More than the rudeness, I was taken aback by the sense of entitlement. I didn’t see why I should be harangued by a spinster I hadn’t seen since the Reagan years.

The impression I got was that she felt I was obligated to contort my life to suit her idea of what a potential husband should be like. That’s a little like practicing your ballet so you can dance into the path of a train. Who would want a hellcat like her? She was the kind of woman who drive men to mistresses.

Some other classmates were there, and we were talking about one who was missing. His name was Mark. He jumped off a bridge in 1993. I just looked up the year, but I could not find details.

The rumor is that he could not cope with the realization that he was a homosexual. I don’t know if that was what destroyed his hope, but I do know he was a miserable person.

After my sophomore year, my dad did something totally out of character and shelled out about $2000 to send me to Europe. A teacher I liked was going to be a chaperone. Miss Beame. She was about six years older and us. Attractive, to say the least. But I’m getting off the point.

She put posters up, and I started telling friends how great Europe was, and pretty soon, three of us were signed up.

Mark was one of my two best friends at that point. Not because I liked him. He liked me.

I was prone to associating with people based on the fact that they were willing to talk to me. You know how high school is. You look at the tables in the lunchroom and decide where you are entitled to sit, and that’s where you go.

He was one of the school’s “smart kids,” but I was a lot smarter. I believe that bothered him. He was very pushy. He was very critical. He treated people as though he were in charge.

I was very passive, so I didn’t think in terms of trying to dominate people, and I wasn’t very sensitive to the fact that imperious people mistreated me. It seemed normal to me. It was what I was subjected to at home.

While we were in Europe, I suddenly realized how obnoxious he was, and I cut him off. After that, he was out of my circle.

By the time he died, he was an acquaintance. In fact, that’s pretty much what he was by the end of the Europe trip. He moved to the second layer of “friends,” and then he was out. I didn’t mourn for him. It was like hearing about a stranger.

In the dream, people seemed to have a protective mindset about him. They were looking at a newspaper article about his suicide, and they said things that seemed to threaten anyone who criticized him.

No one was criticizing him, but they seemed determined to intimidate anyone who might consider it. They were protecting him because he was a homosexual.

As we were walking away from the bar, I lagged behind the others, and I said, “It’s been nice seeing you. I guess.”

After that I got away from them.

When I woke up, I felt as though the rude girl’s remarks had weight. For a few minutes, I saw myself through the eyes of hard, godless people, and I felt panicked.

In my dreams, I am not myself. Sometimes I don’t believe in God. Sometimes I do immoral things I wouldn’t even want to do in real life. I don’t understand it. I can understand having a sexual dream or a dream about hurting someone who makes me mad, but I can’t understand dreaming of something I would ordinarily have to interest in.

In real life, I would not have been with these people. I would not have been in a bar. I would have told that girl off very forcefully, or I would have gotten up and left without wasting the effort of speaking to her, and I would have left the bar instantly. But in the dream, their view of life seemed more rational, and that carried through in the three or four minutes after I awoke.

I started talking to God, and he started showing me things.

This world is controlled by hell. Human beings, including most Christians, prefer Satan to God. That’s why he is the god of this world. While we’re here, we waste our time pursuing utterly worthless things he says are important. Then we die content, thinking we’ve made a difference. In reality, we’ve done nothing of use.

Godless people think their lives have meaning if they affect society. For example, you might write a bestselling book. You might become famous and receive $20 million dollars per role, making movies. You might become president after being carried through law school and serving 143 days as an undistinguished junior senator.

People might think you’re important, and you are likely to believe it. They may hush themselves when you speak. They may pamper you and mail you fan letters. But when it’s over, you will leave the earth with nothing, and you are likely to burn in hell forever.

We can’t accumulate anything here. Nothing lasts. Even environmentalists, who think they’re saints for “preserving” the planet for future generations, are throwing their lives down the toilet. This planet is going to be destroyed. Even scientists say so. The sun will go out. If we move to another solar system, that sun will go out. Nothing here is eternal.

No one will remember the famous people of 2015 in 20015. Not the ones who didn’t serve God. No one will know what an Academy Award is. No one will know what America was or care that you were the president. All your money will be gone. Everything you created will be gone, unless it’s in a museum, in very bad shape.

What lasts, then? What is it that we are supposed to bring with us into eternity?

People. We can take people with us. Everything else stays here. Everything else is, essentially, excrement.

Jesus told us to lay up treasures in heaven, where nothing is destroyed. He was talking about people.

Does that mean all we should care about is getting people saved? No, because we do stupid, carnal things in order to get people to the altar. The things you do to get 10000 people saved today may cost the kingdom a million later on. God does not send us here to do things quickly and sloppily. He could never do that. He isn’t like that.

God wants us to help people become like him, right here. Right now. He wants us to listen to him, follow his orders, and do it his way. That means praying in tongues, destroying pride, and becoming Spirit-led.

Many preachers think they’ve pleased God because they have big churches. God is going to tell them there is no permanent reward for that. They build these monstrosities to glorify themselves, so they get their reward here on earth. The people who are rewarded will be those who reach others God’s way.

When you’re in heaven and the game is over, you’ll be with the people you reached here on earth, forever. They will be your treasures.

The world is a dirty diaper, floating in a sea of hot excrement. We huddle toward the center, avoiding the the hot spray from the waves of sewage. We waste our lives building towers of excrement. None of it survives, and many of us are destroyed along with our works.

We don’t realize how ugly and filthy the world is, because we’re used to it. We’re in denial, and denial has become our protection. Without it, we would be in despair.

Are people really happy doing things their way? While I was talking to God last night, I thought about the people I’ve known. I thought about people who were considered successful.

My grandparents had a bad marriage. Three of their daughters divorced. The other is becoming demented. Her daughter’s young husband died in a fiery plane crash. One of my dad’s business associates lost a son to a murdering rapist. The man’s ex-wife lost her mind and committed suicide. His second wife died suddenly. His daughter committed suicide.

Another of my dad’s associates will die a disbarred felon. Another is such a nasty creep no one would even talk to him if he didn’t have money. My mother died from cancer, unappreciated and mistreated.

I could sit here all day without coming up with anyone who could say, “My life worked.”

Godless people aren’t much at fulfillment.

If you concern yourself with saving human beings and helping God rebuild them, you will have a different outcome. You won’t leave a mountain of crap behind for the rain to wash away. When you die, you’ll be headed to rejoin people you love, and you’ll know you helped put them in the safe place where you’ll be together for eternity.

You will know that you showed people what true love and true purpose are. No one who is not Spirit-led can do that. They’re all chasing shadows.

The world is horrible. It’s a death camp where we are processed, harvested, and slaughtered. And it’s going to get worse. We love Satan. We really do. That’s not a joke. He is going to win.

When God comes back to restore order, it will be to a world where Satan had his way. Satan will have to be forced to leave, because humanity will want him to stay.

If you don’t have the Holy Spirit, you’ll think everything is fine, or that getting rid of Christianity and the Jews will fix everything. You’ll be blind, deaf, and stupid. You won’t resent playing with excrement. You’ll love it.

The world seems beautiful, even in its cursed state, but it’s a ball of manure. It is ruined. It is full of poison. There is no hope for it.

I guess this will sound disrespectful, but I don’t want any more Marks in my life. He was a Jewish atheist. He said that when you die, “You rot.” He had no help, but he had pride, and he made other people unhappy. He was one of those people who took the joy out of other people’s lives.

I want to be a humble person who introduces people to joy. I don’t want to spend the rest of my days trying to prove I’m right about everything, and that my way works. If people associate with me, I want it to be because they love me, not because they can get something from me or because I abuse and brainwash them into thinking the mistreatment I deal out to them is friendship.

Sooner or later, every proud, hard-hearted person jumps off a bridge. That’s a hard word, but it’s undeniable. If you’re blessed, your fall comes during this life, while you have time to change. If not, you will plunge from God’s presence in heaven.

I keep asking God to remove the proud people from my life, and he’s doing it. Sometimes when he takes someone away, it’s an obvious choice, but some of his picks surprise me. They are people I thought of highly.

The one proud person I did not expect him to remove from my life is me. I wanted my pride taken away, but when I prayed for proud people to be removed, I didn’t realize I was praying about myself.

I’ll take it. No complaints here. It’s a bonus.

The prosperity gospel is excrement. It is pus. It will never work. It never has. The unconditional approval gospel is just as bad. Love is not approval. God takes us as we are, but if we don’t change, he stops blessing us, and we displease him.

Humility is everything. A love of correction is everything. These, coupled with a strong prayer life guided by the Holy Spirit, will fix you. Then you’ll want what God wants, and he will start helping you. You will bear fruit, and it will be with you in heaven.

To the people I’ve offended, I have nothing to say except, “Grow up.” Making you happy and feeding your self-centered fantasies are not on God’s list of things he created me to do. Get over it. And if you can’t, you will be replaced. That’s the way the kingdom works.

This will be helpful, if you take it to heart. I hope some of the ground it lands on is fertile.


Cry Havoc! And Let Slip the Dogs of Bench

July 17th, 2015

Wood That I Could

Today I learned something disturbing about hand planes.

A while back, I found that I had the ability to hand-sharpen stuff with remarkable accuracy. I proceeded to fix up the blades of my old hand planes. I made edges that were either perpendicular to the length of the blades or, in the case of a blade that was originally sharpened way off perpendicular, nearly so.

I was happy. The blades looked pretty good, apart from the gouges my early efforts made, and they were literally like razors. I planed with them and felt great joy.

Then I saw this guy.

His name is Richard Maguire, and he goes by “the English Woodworker.” Good luck getting a trademark on that in the USA.

When I watch him, I keep expecting Eric Idle to pop out of a refrigerator.

He uses hand tools and does lots of neat work. He makes a living making workbenches. He knows a great deal about weird old tools.

A week or so back, I heard him say something about “cambering” plane blades. This means that instead of a straight edge, you create a convex arc. When you put the blade in the plane, the center is slightly lower than the edges, so it hits the wood first.

I waved my hand and decided to write him off as an eccentric. Because I had done so much work on my blades.

Today I was reading up on planes, and I read some credible stuff that said that it was necessary to camber plane blades. Not optional. Not optimal. Necessary.

The problem is that if you don’t do this, the corners of the blade will be level with the center, and they will cut just as deep. Where the blade ends, the cutting stops, so you get a tiny rabbet. Not the kind you surprise your kids with at Easter and then turn loose in a park when no one is looking because you’re tired of cleaning the cage. A rabbet is a straight cut in a piece of wood with a 90-degree wall.

I guess calling a miniscule gouge a rabbet is an exaggeration, but you get the point. You’re trying to make a piece of wood smooth, and you leave long scratches in it.

Today I removed my vise from my bench so I could flatten the top a little. There are six boards in the top, and the third one in was pretty warped. I started planing it, and I saw the scratches, and that’s when I started reading up.

Then I read up on how to put a camber in a plane blade. Some people call plane blades cutters or irons. I am not that particular.

It turns out that if you sharpen by hand, using whetstones, you have to push really hard on one side while you sharpen it, and then you push really hard on the other side. Over time, the sides get cut more than the middle, and you get a very wide arc.

So I spent like 3 hours resharpening my blades. I found that once you start to get close to the arc you want, you can perfect it by switching the pressure from one side of the blade to the other during each stroke.

You can buy jigs and machines to do this stuff, but then you’re a loser and a girly man, and I wasn’t having that. And I don’t want to have to drag the woodworking equivalent of the Electrowhocardioshnooks out every time I want to do something.

So here is the bench now. The last two boards are covered by important woodworking tools such as my computer monitor and CNC lathe, so they’re not flat yet.

07 17 15 workbench flattened with hand planes

My big project for the weekend is to put the vise together. I am hoping UPS came through on its promise to deliver the acme screws and nuts today.

I also ordered some holdfasts. These are bent pieces of wood, like the hooked ends of crowbars. Dang…I just realized I could have bought crowbars and sawed them in half. Anyway, you drive them into holes in the top of your bench, they get wedged in, and pads on the ends of the hooks hold your wood down.

I will have to make holes for these things. Unfortunately, the bench top is only 1.5″ thick, and that’s half an inch too thin for holdfasts, so I will have to attach a board under the bench to make the holes deeper.

Once this is done, I will be able to hold wood down properly while I work on it instead of sitting on it or holding it down with my face.

The bench is getting surprisingly nice. You wouldn’t want it in your living room, but stuff no longer rocks when it sits on it. I could build a new top in two days, but I like doing modifications. It allows me to get practice without screwing up anything expensive or important.

I plan to use the holes for bench dogs, too. These are little cylinders of wood that sit partway in the holes, held up by friction, and keep wood from moving sideways. You can put a vertical thing in your vise’s moving jaw, put a piece of wood against it, and tighten the vise until it drives the wood into one or more dogs. This holds it in place. You can also use a bench dog, a holdfast, and a batten. But I am too lazy to tell you what this means.

I have learned an amazing thing, which I already suspected. Human beings have the ability to detect things their senses can’t really pick up.

For example, when I was sharpening the blades, I was creating deviations from straight that amounted to maybe four thousandths of an inch. To be really sure what was happening, I would hold the edges up to a machinist’s square and look for light between the rule and the blades. But before I put the blades up to the square, I already knew, pretty much, what I was going to see.

When I was planing, I had a carpenter’s square, which I used to check the wood for flatness. But I found that when I ran my hands over the wood, the high places, which were maybe five or ten thousandths high, felt positively swollen. They were very obvious.

Don’t ask me to explain it. I can’t.

Let’s see. What else?

I made a router plane. A router plane is a tool with a blade that projects down from a flat body. You use it to even out the bottoms of dadoes, which are like two rabbets facing each other. In other words, a dado is a slot with vertical walls and a flat bottom.

07 16 15 homemade router plane with set screw added

There are a million router planes on the market, and none are cheap. I was very confused when I shopped. Then I saw this guy.

That’s Paul Sellers. He is merely AN English woodworker. To be clear. Anyway, he says you can make a working plane by driving a chisel through a board. So I bought a chisel and gave it a shot. But I found that making a chisel sit level in a round hole was iffy, and on top of that, I expected the hole to open up quickly with use, so I decided to make a board with a flat hole through it.

In order to do that, I had to make a slot half an inch wide, at 35 degrees to horizontal. Then I had to fill the slot most of the way with a piece of wood half and inch thick. The finishing touch was a set screw, which I made by cutting a quarter-inch lag bolt in half. I can move the chisel back and fort to adjust the depth of the cut, and the screw holds it in place and forces it to level itself against the flat bottom of the hole.

I cheated in the worst way possible. I used the milling machine to make the slot. Doing it with woodworking tools would have been a nightmare. I finished with planes, butchering the wood in the slot pretty badly, which proves my point.

I almost killed myself making this infernal object, but I did finish.

Does it work? No idea. I don’t have any dadoes at the moment. That’s not the point. I wanted to make it, and I did.

Now I may have something that will function while I either choose or make a real router plane.

07 16 15 using milling machine to cheat on router plane

I know you find this fascinating. Let me just say this: you’re welcome.

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Bench Trials

July 13th, 2015

A Certain Amount of Bleeding is Good for You

I have been fiddling around with my workbench.

I built it in maybe 2007. I did not know what a workbench should be like, so I guessed. I used pressure-treated four-by-fours for the legs. I put horizontal two-by-eights in several places for added rigidity, and I covered it with two-by-sixes laid flat.

I did not know much about joinery or routing, so I made an interesting choice. I took a router and made tongues and grooves on the boards that made up the top, and I shoved them together. The outermost boards had screws holding them down, and they held the other boards in place. I put one additional screw near the end of each inner board.

The tongues and grooves were not too good. I think I didn’t understand the importance of milling wood to make it flat and straight. When you have boards with curved edges and various types of warpage, they don’t mate up all that well. Now I have a few cracks that things fall into. Screws and drill bits, mostly.

The irony is that I thought the joinery would prevent things from falling. I didn’t want stuff to fall down between the boards and go right through so they landed under the table. Now it falls and gets stuck half an inch below the level of the top, and it tends to get covered with sawdust and other crap.

Yesterday I dug around between two boards and found a drill bit I had been missing for weeks, plus an unusual screw that fell out of a rotary table.

The workbench has its issues, but it’s very solid. You could literally park a car on it, if you could find a way to fit it.

It’s not a real woodworking bench. It’s just a general-purpose bench. I stuck a heavy 5″ mechanic’s vise on the left front corner, and I didn’t add any features that would help me work on wood. No dog holes. No wood vises.

Much later, I learned what woodworking benches were like.

Internet hobbyists are probably not the greatest guys to ask for advice when it comes to benches. Most of them have never had to make a wooden item in order to put food on the table, so they don’t know a whole lot about efficiency or what really works. They like benches that look fancy and have lots of cool joints in them. And sometimes they use hardwoods, which is apparently a mistake.

I’ve been studying up on this. Evidently, crummmy wood like pine and fir is the best choice for a workbench. It’s cheap. It’s relatively easy to work. You can glue long pieces together and make huge laminated boards without quality jointing; the wood is soft enough to deform when clamped, closing any gaps caused by warpage. You don’t need to run it through a jointer, which would be a chore.

Also, you should not sand a workbench top and make it super-pretty. If you do, stuff will slide around on it because it has no grip. Professional woodworkers will actually fix their benches when they get too smooth. There are planes made for this purpose. They have toothed blades. You take the plane, and you deliberately rough up your gorgeous surface so cabinets won’t slide off and shoot across the shop.

Hobby woodworkers tend to make benches with tops that are way too thick. When a top gets more than 3″ thick, you will start to have issues when you try to use holdfasts. A holdfast is a bent rod that goes through the top. It has a flat clamping surface on one end. The other end is straight. You push the straight end down into a hole in your bench, and it gets wedged and holds your work down flat so you can butcher it. If the hole is too deep, it won’t want to wedge.

On the other hand, a thin (1.5″) top like the one I have is bad, because it won’t work with many vises. An example is the Eclipse 10″ vise, which is a Czech copy of a vise made by Record. This thing is supposed to be screwed to the underside of a thick bench, with over a foot of hardward projecting horizontally underneath. The fixed jaw goes against the edge of the bench, and it’s pretty deep. If the side of your bench is 1.5″ high, you have a problem. Also, if you have a vertical board under the edge of your bench to support the top, you will have to cut holes in it for the vise hardward.

I have two vertical boards a few inches apart.

Seemed smart at the time.

I am not planning to make a new bench right now. I can’t think of an excuse, so I will just admit I’m lazy. Over the last day or two I’ve learned things that make it less intimidating, but during that time I made a choice to work with what I have, and I made substantial modifications, so I want to see how far I can go with the existing bench.

In my Google-powered research, I learned about something called a Moxon vise. This is a fat board maybe two feet long, with two acme screws in it. You put a screw through each end and mount a dial on the outside, and when you want to hold something, you put it between the board and your bench and tighten the screws.

It’s not rocket science, but it has a following, and to me, it looked a lot easier than performing major surgery so I could install an Eclipse.

Usually, these vises have screws that don’t move. The dials are threaded on the inside, so they move toward the bench as you tighten the vise. That leaves two huge bars of metal hanging out of the bench at waist level at all times, waiting to gouge you every time you walk by.

No. That will not do.

I decided to make a version with screws that turn. That would move everything close to the bench when the vise was closed.

To do this, I needed a fat fixed jaw pretty much flush with the side of the bench, and that meant hacking off the ledge that hung over the side. Here’s a photo of what I did with an ordinary saw from the hardware store, followed by a flush-cut router bit.

07 11 15 bench with cutout for wood vise

I am not great with a router, and the bench top (my reference surface) was not all that flat, so I got a few gouges. But I had to fine-tune it with a scraper and plane anyway, so to a large extent, the gouges went away.

I needed wood for the hole. I had a couple of really ugly two-by-sixes rotting in the backyard, so I cut usable pieces from them jointed and planed them, and glued them together to make one board.

07 11 15 cheesy pine glued up for bench vise jaw

I drilled some holes in them and made recesses for screws, and then I attached them to the bench with lag screws. The result is really nice. I can’t stop looking at it.

07 12 15 moxon vise fixed jaw attached to workbench

I wanted a hardwood moving jaw, for some reason I don’t recall. I paid good money for three feet of maple and then cut it down, removing all the cracked and useless wood that always seems to come with lumber yard items. I plan to drill screw holes in it and add it later.

I also picked up a piece of 36″ threaded rod and two nuts. The usual choice is acme thread, but that’s not available locally, and I saw a piece of 3/4″ 60-degree threaded rod just staring at me at the hardware store, so stupidly, I bought it. Then I found out it won’t work.

I mean, yes, it will work, but the pitch is much finer than the pitch on an acme screw, so it will take a billion turns to open or close the vise a few inches. Also, 60-degree threads don’t work well with half-nuts.

A half-nut is a piece of metal with threads inside it, but they only go 180 degrees. If you took a nut and sawed it in half across the opening, you would have 180 degrees of threads, and you could drop it directly onto a threaded rod and get it to engage. You wouldn’t have to screw it in, because the nut would be open.

If you have two half-nuts, you can close them around a threaded rod in order to get a nut that works. When it’s closed, you can move the rod back and forth through the nut by turning it. When it’s open, you can move the rod freely without turning it. You can use half-nuts for quick-release devices. Open the nut to move the vise jaw (for example) quickly. Close it when you want to use the screw and apply force.

Lathes use half-nuts to move their carriages when machinists thread things. You turn a lever, the nut closes around a turning screw, and the carriage moves as the nut moves up the screw.

A 60-degree thread is sloped, obviously, so when it’s in a half-nut and you push or pull it, some of the force will be transferred outward, and the half-nut will try to open. Acme threads are pretty square, so they are less troublesome.

So now I have 36″ of useless threaded rod. I found acme rod online, and three feet of it are on their way to me now, complete with nuts.

This is too bad, because I had all sorts of neat ideas for a half-nut quick-release mechanism. But if you have acme threads, you don’t need a quick-release mechanism all that badly, because the coarse pitch makes things move pretty quickly as you turn the screw.

A famous woodworker named Paul Sellers has a series of Youtubes showing how to make a workbench top. It’s really not that bad. You plane a few pieces of cheap pine or fir just enough to make glue stick, and then you clamp them side-by-side. Eventually you get enough solid wood to make a benchtop, which you can plane and adjust.

It would be even easier for me, because I have a jointer and planer. I don’t insist on doing stuff by hand.

Nonetheless, I feel I should keep working on the bench I have, because it’s great experience. And if I have a bench that works, it will be there to use when I make a better one.

I have ideas for filling the cracks. I have an idea for a swinging TV arm to move my monitor out of the way when I need to use the whole width of the bench. A tail vise would be nice. Dog holes. A thin hardwood covering for the pine, to make the holes slower to open up and become useless.

It keeps getting better. To add the vise jaw, I had to move my power strip down low, where it should have been to start with. Putting a power strip at waist level sounds smart, but then you bump into it all the time, and you will step on the cords and pull them out.

The vise jaw is really beautiful. It goes to show that you can make very nice things with cheap wood. It looks much better in real life than in the photo. Makes me want to make more things out of inexpensive pine.

The photos show a lot of bright-looking areas. Those are places that have been planed. My planes are amazing; even the cheap one I restored. They whiz along like nobody’s business. I can actually do useful work with them. I am thinking of driving strips of wood into the bench’s cracks and planing them fair with the top.

It’s nice to have tools. It’s even nicer to be able to use them and get results.

If this project goes anywhere, I’ll post more photos. In the meantime, quit watching garbage on TV and eating Cheetos. Turn on Youtube, open a book, and learn a few things.

It won’t kill you.