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Feets of Strength

September 23rd, 2017

Tennis Shoes Just not Cutting It

Today’s big news: I got myself some new boots.

I’ve been here a month, and I’ve been doing a ton of outdoor work. I came here in a new pair of Nike tennis shoes, and that’s what I wore up until today. I had to retire them. They were not up to the job.

After Irma, there was standing water on parts of my property for…well, there may still be some. There are still twigs and branches everywhere, and they reach out to scrape my ankles when I walk. I’ve used chainsaws a lot, and they shot wood chips into the tops of my tennis shoes. From there, the chips found their way all the way down to the toes.

I have a few pairs of boots, but I wanted work boots. I had motorcycle boots (actually uniform boots), hunting boots, and some kind of Timberland insulated boots. I sprang for something new: Danner 8″ work boots with some kind of uber-plastic protectors in the toes. When you cut wood with a chain saw, it falls, and I did not want crushed toes.

The boots I bought are waterproof, with lots of Gore-tex. They have plenty of padding. They’re roomy enough for thick wool socks which keep my feet dry. I am in love.

I’ve always liked tools. I like getting the right tool for the right job. Sometimes the wrong tool takes three days and makes you miserable, and the right tool takes fifteen minutes and doesn’t raise one bead of sweat. Shoes are tools. I had the wrong tools for the job, and they were a major hindrance.

Today Amazon brought the boots, and I put them on as soon as I saw the box. I went out and started hacking up a fifty-foot live oak that was lying on its side in the big pasture. It was wonderful. Nothing hit my ankles. My footing was solid. When I needed to kick things, the impact didn’t come through the thin sole of a tennis shoe. Nothing dropped into my socks and migrated down to my toes.

I could have worn the Timberland boots. I’m pretty sure I haven’t worn them since law school. Once I experienced Danner boots, I could not go back. Timberland boots are not very good. People don’t know that, because they haven’t tried anything better.

I got my first pair of Timberlands when I went to Columbia University. I was a Florida kid, and on October 10, I believe it was, we got 8 inches of snow. I figured it would be like that all winter. I bought a down jacket, wool socks, and Timberlands. They were the classic Timberlands. Reddish leather, about 7″ high, with plastic collars around the tops (probably to save Timberland money on leather).

I kept those boots for a few years, but they eventually rotted, and the soles fell off. I had another pair of Timberlands made largely of fabric, and they didn’t last, either. I got the last pair in the Nineties, and I’ve probably worn them fewer than 10 times. They’re stiff, like wood. They keep the cold and damp out, but then I haven’t worn them enough to get them to leak.

Danners feel like big running shoes. Total comfort. They are truly waterproof. They come with various levels of insulation. They never seem to wear out. You will pay at least $150 for a decent pair, but that’s only about 7% more than Timberlands, and you will get a completely different level of quality.

Timberlands are crap. Trust me. It’s no wonder rappers like them, because rappers are the same people who buy Beats headphones instead of Sennheisers. If Dr. Dre endorsed horse manure, rappers would cram horse manure in their ears.

Here’s something neat about Ocala: you can get real work clothes. You can walk into a store and be surrounded by Carhartt. I won’t have to buy my stuff online any more. Danners can’t be found around here, but pants, shirts, jackets, and overalls will not be a problem.

I didn’t realize how much my feet hindered me until I started cutting wood in real boots. Suddenly, I didn’t even think about my feet. I didn’t worry about where I stepped. I didn’t feel things attacking my ankles. Really nice.

As for the tree-cutting, I learned new things. I learned that Spanish moss will stop a chainsaw. All the trees here are covered with moss. I have stopped my small saw three times by catching moss in it. Very annoying.

I also learned that chainsaws have a sacrificial tab the chain hits when it comes off. I made some kind of booboo while fixing the moss problem, and my chain came loose. It stopped instantly, and when I looked at it, I saw that a little detachable metal tab had been bent. Neat feature. Chainsaws are a lot better than they used to be. Very impressive.

I spent about two hours dismantling the tree. I would say I got about 15% of it done, but it was a very critical 15%. You can’t just go up to the base of an 18″-thick horizontal oak and start hacking at it. The tree is resting on its branches, and God only knows which way they’ll throw it when I cut them. I started at the top and methodically cut everything that didn’t have tension on it and moved it away. Before long, I was able to cut off one of the tree’s three main branches. The tree is defeated now. I made it much more accessible and predictable.

I’m waiting for a pole saw with a 12″ bar to arrive. There are some things I should not cut with a regular saw. Some are too high, and some are too scary. A pole saw will allow me to cut things higher than my head, and it will also let me stay seven or eight feet away when I cut things that look dangerous. The 12″ bar isn’t very big, but most pole saws are 8″ or 10″, so compared to them, it’s a monster. I should be able to cut things 10″ thick, and that will cover just about everything I need a pole saw for.

What I’m doing is a lot of work, but I enjoy it because I have good tools. I throw the saws into a gas-powered golf cart, ride to the tree I have to cut, and have at it. I can keep water and other tools in the cart’s dump bed. I wear good polarized safety glasses, and I have a Worktunes bluetooth hearing protector playing Christian music in my ear the whole time. If I had to do this work with a crappy little Poulan saw and haul everything in an SUV or a pickup, and I didn’t have Julie True singing in my ear, it would be a very bad experience.

I’m very glad I didn’t buy the first saw I saw in a store after Irma, because the first saws I saw were cheap. I’m also glad I got two saws instead of one. Today one saw got bound in a limb, and I used the other saw to rescue it. A four-foot pry bar was useless. If I hadn’t had two saws, I would have been in a pickle.

The little Jonsered is nimble and powerful. The big Echo is a light saber. Point it at a limb, and it falls off.

I need to get a hard hat. No one wears a hard hat while using a chainsaw. No one except a professional who isn’t a total idiot. I plan not to dress like a total idiot, even if it makes me look odd. Most people who use chainsaws are ignorant, and they wear jeans, tennis shoes, and baseball caps. A lot of people don’t use hearing protection. Whatever. I want to keep my hearing, and I don’t want skull fractures from falling wood.

I’ve thought about getting chainsaw chaps. They’re made from kevlar. The kevlar comes loose when you hit it with the blade, and it chokes the sprocket, stopping the saw. Interesting thing: it doesn’t work with electric saws. They have too much torque. Anyway, today I had moments when I was able to see the wisdom of wearing chaps.

I have some plastic wedges on the way. I could not buy them locally. They prevent saws from getting pinched the way mine did today. It’s amazing how stores let the ignorant shape their inventory choices. No chaps. No wedges. These are things every chainsaw seller should stock.

It’s about time to learn how to sharpen a saw. The Jonsered seems to be cutting a little finer and slower than at first. I already have a couple of files for the job. I should pick up some extra chains. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

I’m hoping that in a couple of weeks or a month, the weather will permit me to wear long pants and a long shirt. Also, the bugs need to die. The wet weather has turned this area into an entomological playground.

Time to take my precious boots off and get in the shower. Maybe I should leave them on.

In a couple of months, I should have this farm looking normal. I’m sad to lose so many trees. The damage didn’t look too bad right after the storm, but then I found out trees continue to fall for days. I must have twenty big trees that didn’t make it. Anyway, I will get them cleared. Maybe I’ll get my band saw up here and turn some of the trees into lumber. The live oaks are useless, but water oaks have wood like red oak, and I may have lost some hickorys or pecans.

I will never lack for firewood or barbecue wood. That’s for sure.

Sorry I don’t have a bunch of photos. I was just too caught up in the work. Here’s a shot from yesterday. It’s the small pasture, after I cleared a bunch of crap.

I will leave you with a shot of my boots. Throw out your Timberlands and pick some up. You will not regret it.

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The Curse of Ethanol

September 20th, 2017

Farm Life has its Challenges

Nothing really terrible has happened to me in several days. I’m wondering if something is wrong.

I’m still working on clearing tropical storm mess from my land. I refuse to call it “hurricane debris,” because I don’t want to play into the irresponsible hype we get from the ratings-crazy press. Marion County did not get hit by a hurricane. It received tropical-storm-force winds from the periphery of a hurricane. If it weren’t for the fact that there are so many rotten trees here, there would have been almost no damage at all.

This county is full of oaks that are rotten in the middle. I did not know this before I moved here. I didn’t know I had highly dubious trees on my property. Now I know, but a number of trees are already resting on my fences.

People here claim water oaks are the big problem. They rot very well. They say live oaks don’t fall in storms. I think that’s wrong, though, because I’ve been looking at leaves when I collect branches, and it sure looks like I have a lot of live oak leaves.

In Miami, live oaks did very well when Andrew hit. It seems they didn’t do as well here. I don’t understand that, because here we have soil. In Miami, the dirt is a few inches thick, and beneath that, it’s oolite, which is solid coral rock. I don’t know how roots can hold onto that. Anyway, I have a bunch of trees to get rid of.

I don’t know if I’ll be able to deal with the larger trees. Some of these boogers are a couple of feet thick, and they’re propped up at odd angles. I don’t want to be crushed when they shift as the saw cuts through. I do not want to hire a tree service. That’s big money. If I do have to hire one, I want to limit their work as much as I can. I can move the trees myself. I just need someone to put them on the ground.

I suppose it’s time to go online and learn about cutting trees.

If you’ve never cut a tree before, you probably think it’s simple, but it’s not. Say you have a tree sixty feet tall, and you want to cut it at the base. That means it can hit anything within sixty feet when it falls. What if there are things within that distance, which you don’t want hit? What if it’s already leaning toward your house? What if it starts falling when you cut it, in a way that puts your life in danger? Can you outrun a falling tree?

Here’s another big issue: saw pinching. If you have a broken tree which is more or less horizontal, when you cut it, it will sag at the cut. That means the kerf will close on your saw, possibly with tons of force. How do you prevent that? Maybe I need wedges. The tractor has been useful, because I’ve been able to hold trees up and saw off the free ends, but that won’t work with really big lumber.

My second chainsaw–the big one–arrived a couple of days ago. I haven’t run it yet. The little one has whizzed through everything I’ve cut so far. Sooner or later, I’ll have to run the big one.

Now that I’ve lifted the big saw, I see why people like little saws. You would have to be nuts to use a big saw on everything. It’s just too heavy and awkward.

I’m going to go out and light the burn pile again today. It’s gigantic now. I’m toying with the idea of throwing a gallon of diesel on it first. I got myself a big jug of charcoal lighter fluid. It may be sufficient, and when it’s empty, I can refill it with diesel, which should be cheaper.

People have informed me that I need to use more oil in my saws than the manual suggests. Evidently, the EPA has decided to ruin all of our small engines in exchange for a tiny decrease in pollution. The manual says to add oil at a ratio of 1:50, but people are telling me to go 1:40, so I will do that.

Yeah, I care about pollution. I care about as much as our government does, which is to say, very little. The government passes crippling legislation that makes money for greenies and still allows a whole lot of environmental damage. I’m not going to screw up my equipment so I can abide by useless feel-good legislation that accomplishes nothing.

Still wondering what the government does with the monumental amount of CO2 ethanol fermentation produces.

I bought regular gas for my small engines, and I have learned that this was a mistake. Regular gas is full of ethanol, which ruins carbs. I wish to God we would give up the ethanol farce. When I was saw shopping, I saw cans of premixed fuel at the store, but I thought it was for sissies who didn’t want to use funnels. I learned that the real benefit is that it’s ethanol-free.

There are gas stations here that sell ethanol-free gas, so I think the best move is to fill a big can and mix it with oil.

In other news, I fixed my bush hog. The previous owner hit a stump with it and tore a corner of the apron loose from the deck. He popped two welds. He says I should keep the bush hog attached to the tractor because it counterbalances the brush forks, so the bush hog will have to remain attached until I become aware of a better solution. Weights, maybe. The bush hog seems to take a considerable beating while I move the tractor around, and it makes thumping sounds. I thought (incorrectly) that the apron was banging against the deck, so I decided to weld it.

I had some obstacles to overcome before I could weld. Mainly, I had no 240 receptacle for either welder (TIG or MIG). The TIG will run on 110, and it also does stick, so that was an option. Also, I now have a small generator that will pump out 20 amps at 240, and that will be enough for MIG.

I decided to try stick, and I also ordered an adaptor to hook the MIG up to the generator, on the assumption that my stick efforts would fail.

I got myself some E7018 electrodes from Home Depot, and I started grinding off the old welds and trying to realign the apron and deck. I didn’t realize the apron had been bent in addition to being snapped off. Short of heating the apron with a huge torch, there is no way to straighten it. It was bent so the top of the apron, where the old weld was, moved inward just enough to make the deck shelter the old weld, making it very hard to grind out.

Anyway, I got it ground, and I put a Strong Hand clamp on the bush hog to hold everything together. Then I set the TIG up for stick, using settings I got from the web: AC and 85 amps.

Right away, I flashed myself. I thought the welder’s foot pedal controlled the stick stinger, so I put the stinger down on the bush hog while I got ready to weld. When I picked it up, the tip contacted metal, and I got an arc. It was very brief, but I have no idea how much arc flash is too much, so I was concerned. I didn’t have any problems, so I guess it wasn’t too bad.

When I started welding, I stuck the electrode about a thousand times, and the arc kept crapping out. People are telling me to go DC next time. The welds are incredibly bad, but they are strong enough to hold until I can redo them. I plan to grind them out and try stick again before giving up and MIGing them.

I thought I didn’t need the generator, but I decided to keep it when I realized it gave me mobility. With a generator, I can run big power tools all over the farm. I can use the rotary hammer, the welders, and maybe even the plasma cutter, if it’s set low enough. I can use air tools. To me, that’s worth the $500 cost of the generator.

If you’re in a storm area, here’s a tip: even if you don’t buy a generator ahead of time, buy and set up the wiring doodads that make it work. You can buy all sorts of generators in Ocala right now, but good luck finding the plugs and receptacles to connect them to anything. My generator has a ridiculous RV receptacle for 240, so nothing useful will plug into it. Get yourself generator-ready now, and you may have cold beer the next time your power goes out.

When I use the generator, I’ll have to put very small amounts of gas in it so I can run it dry. I don’t want ethanol eating my generator so it won’t run when I need it.

Man, I hate ethanol. What a disgusting, greed-motivated boondoggle.

Time to get out there and burn some trees. Maybe I’ll post a photo.

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Who Needs Eyebrows?

September 16th, 2017

Even Trash-Burning has a Learning Curve

I had another challenging day today. I don’t want to list everything I’ve had to cope with, but I can mention a few facts. For example, my dad’s boat is in a marina. The marina’s electrical stuff was submerged during the tropical storm surge. The marina has no power. Someone has to go start every boat’s engines to keep the batteries charged, so the boats have juice to run their bilge pumps…or they’ll sink. And I’m 300 miles away.

Stuff like that.

Also, I set fire to myself. I finally lit up the multi-ton pile of dead wood out in the pasture. I tried lighting the dry leaves on the branches, but they pooped out. I decided to try accelerating the fire with gasoline.

Don’t start with me. I have burned gasoline many times. I have never seen it explode. The way it did today. At me. I had no way of knowing that was going to happen.

I put about half a cup of gas on the pile, and I used one of those long barbecue lighters to light it. I held my hand way out there, to maximize the distance. The pile went WHOOOF, and a big fireball shot out at me.

I lost all the hair on one ankle. I had to drive to the house to see if I had eyebrows. It was pretty stimulating.

Gas doesn’t do that when you set fire to it on the ground. Something about the limbs and leaves got it excited. I suppose they helped the fumes evaporate and form a cloud.

Next time, diesel. That will be tomorrow.

My friend Amanda didn’t have power this morning, so I invited her and her sons to come over and use the washer and dryer, not to mention the pool and shower. That worked out well. Amanda is an old hand at the farming game, and she had good advice regarding the burn pile. Too bad she wasn’t there when I lit it.

She and her kids kept my dad amused while I worked, and her sons piled up a bunch of branches so I could pick them up with the tractor. I don’t think they’re in love with farm work. When I went to see how they were doing, the youngest said, “Can we be done now?”

Amanda and I toured the farm on the golf cart and looked at the trees that still need to be dealt with. Some of them won’t be accessible for days because there is standing water in a few places. It rained like crazy during the storm.

I figure I have 3 trees that need attention soon. They’re lying across fences, and my neighbors will eventually want that fixed. The rest can wait. Who cares if an oak falls over in a pasture? Big deal.

Life is getting straightened out.

I won’t lie. I’ve had a lot of stress and worry. God has given me great tools to deal with these things, but this has been a very special couple of months. It’s as if Satan is extremely angry that I escaped Miami, so he is throwing whatever he can at me. The movers screwed up royally; half of the furniture is still in my garage, and they left a bunch of tools in Miami. My dad took an overdose of blood pressure pills and forgot where he was, so he had to be hospitalized. The house’s main AC died and had to be replaced. Hurricane Irma.

I keep telling people I’m waiting for the earthquake.

Anyway, I generally cope with worry very well, but this has been a new level of aggravation, and things keep coming up to distract me and prevent me from praying.

It will get better. And when it’s over, I won’t be in Miami. I will still be free from the stench of Dade County. Man, that place stinks. I wish I had left in 1970. How different my life would be, had I been raised among better people. But then I was not ready for it. I didn’t deserve it. It would have been wrong to inflict me on Ocala.

Tomorrow the burning and sawing resumes. Pray I don’t roast myself again.

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Burning Man East

September 15th, 2017

Work is More Fun Than Play

I am almost too wiped out to blog. That’s saying a lot, since I write for recreation.

Yesterday God gave me a miracle. I found a decent small chainsaw in the Ocala area, available for store pickup. This week, that’s about as easy as finding a bar of soap in a room full of Bernie Sanders supporters.

I was checking various sites to see how fast I could get a small saw. I have a big saw coming Monday, but I’ve learned that big saws are not for small saw work. Big saws are heavy and awkward. Little saws won’t cut big trees as well, but they’re easier to use on limbs and so on. I have an abundance of big trunks and small limbs to deal with.

I may as well pass on what I learned, since someone else may find it useful.

There are apparently three levels of chainsaws. First, there are really expensive chainsaws you should only buy if you plan to use a saw every day at your job. Forget those. Then there are solid saws that cost considerably less. Then there is crap from China. You don’t want crap from China.

Yesterday I visited Rural King, which is like Tractor Supply’s mother, and they had some good saws, but the small saws they were selling were dubious. They had Poulans, which everyone on the web seems to hate.

I don’t know anything about the high-end saws, but I learned a few things about the second tier.

A lot of people like Stihl, which is German. Are they actually the best, or is it that closet-Nazi chic that makes BMW buyers so gullible? I don’t know.

Another popular brand is Husqvarna. This Swedish company makes lots of stuff. They used to make motorcycles. I don’t know if they make them today. The problem with Husqvarna is that some of their lower-end saws are…crap from China. Or at least crap that isn’t from Sweden. Evidently, you have to be careful and check the labels.

Echo is the Japanese company that ruined life on earth by inventing the leaf blower. That’s the word on the street, anyway. They make very nice saws. You can get them at Home Depot, unless you’re me and you need one to clear away tropical storm debris. It’s surprising that Home Depot sells something nice.

Here’s another brand: Jonsered. It’s Swedish. The main reason it’s Swedish is that it’s really Husqvarna. If you buy one, you will actually see the word “Husqvarna” on either the saw or stuff that came with it. Jonsered is sold at Tractor Supply. I don’t know who else sells them.

Why Husqvarna has a separate brand selling the same things is not clear to me. Maybe some of their saws simply identify as Jonsered.

I was fooling around on the Tractor Supply website, and it unexpectedly told me I could pick up a Jonsered CS 2240 locally. I figured it was a mistake, but it was worth a shot. I ordered it, and the order went through. I figured I would get an email the next morning, telling me the saw didn’t really exist. I assumed someone at the store would sell it to his beer buddy and tell me to get lost. Miraculously, I received an email saying the saw was ready for pickup.

The CS 2240 is a 40 cc saw with a 16″ blade, which means it’s light and handy. It sounded like just what I needed. My neighbors have pretty much cleared their yards, and I’ve been so busy and tool-deprived, I’m way behind. I had to get something to get me started. I can’t cut big oaks with this, but I can do 80% of the cutting I need to do.

Today I got the saw running, and I moved a huge amount of wood to the burn pile using the tractor. I would be lying if I said this wasn’t fun. I love hydraulics. They turn people into superheroes. Remember Ridley fighting the queen Alien in Aliens? That’s me on the tractor.

The saw was wonderful. The last gas chainsaw my family unit possessed was a used McCulloch, I think. Back in the Seventies. It ran okay, but it was nothing like the Jonsered. The Jonsered zips through hard oak like nobody’s business. It was a pleasure to use. It made me wonder what the big saw will be like. I’ve never used a big saw on hardwood.

I had to quit because I know nothing about small engines. I followed the manual as well as I could, but I flooded the saw and could not get it to function. The only reason I’m tired tonight is that I pulled the saw’s start cord about 3000 times. After I quit, I went on the web to find out what I had done wrong.

I found an authoritative-sounding video that said I had to take the spark plug out and dry it off, and that I had to empty the excess fuel through the plug hole. Bummer. Then I found a small engine repair guy with a much better video. I’m going to tell you what I found out.

When you start a chainsaw cold, you have to use the choke to cut back on air. You also have to squoosh the chainsaw’s priming diaphragm to get fuel to the carb or whatever. If you do either of these things a little bit too much, the saw’s cylinder fills up, and then you will be completely unable to start the saw by following the worthless manual.

To make the saw run, you have to get rid of the excess fuel. Here’s how you do it. You start it while holding the throttle wide open. You may have to yank the cord a number of times, but eventually you will blow the fuel out, and the saw will run. Forget taking the plug out. Forget waiting for the saw to dry.

Wish I had known that today. I had no idea what was happening, thanks to the manual.

It makes sense. When you flood a carbureted car, the solution is to floor it while you turn the engine over.

I have to burn my trash wood. I’m nervous about it. I’ve never done it before. I picture my face on the news, over the words “DIY ARSONIST.” I can’t believe it’s safe to burn wood near wooded areas, but apparently it is. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because campfires are pretty common, and we still have forests.

I have what must be a few tons of wood waiting to be burned. I need to get it going because the burn area needs to be emptied so I can get rid of more wood.

I don’t see how green wood is supposed to burn, but I’ll light it and see what it does.

The bigger downed trees are intimidating. Today I looked at one that has branches maybe forty feet long and ten inches thick. One big branch points up at a 45-degree angle. If I saw that sucker where it joins the trunk, I have no idea what it will do. It may slide toward me and smear me across the ground like peanut butter. I have to decide what I can do safely and what I can’t. The Jonsered is intimidating. The big Echo I have coming will be a whole different level.

I’ve used a bigger saw in the past. A long time ago, I did part-time work for a tree service. But I wasn’t the boss. I had someone with years of experience telling me what not to do. Now it’s just me.

I’m trying to be intelligent. For example, I lift trees with the tractor so the parts I saw off will bend down, not up, when the saw goes through. If a tree bends in a V at the cut, it will pinch the saw, and then you’re done until you can get it out. I also put the tractor’s forks under heavy stuff before I cut it, so it will drop gently onto the front end loader. Today I cut a piece of wood that had to weigh 400 pounds. I can’t put that on the loader. It has to want to be there.

I am too tired to post photos.

It’s pretty cool, having a tractor, a chainsaw, and a golf cart. The tractor is useless for carrying things, so I put them in the cart’s dump bed and take the cart to where I’m cutting. Then I move the tractor there and get to work. There is nothing like having good tools. Work isn’t unpleasant when you have what you need to git ‘er done.

A friend is coming by tomorrow. I think I’ll just cram some more brush on the pile and let her rip. I don’t have to wear out the chainsaw every day. It’s going to be a while before the downed trees are gone.

Thank God I’m not in Miami. I would rather be here sweating on a tractor than doing just about anything there.

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Reverse Looting

September 11th, 2017

I Hate Miami More Than Ever

I am using my most precious commodity, electricity, to let you know how I’m doing.

Irma came through last night. As always, the predictions were overblown. We got considerable wind, but it was no hurricane. Not here. I lost a number of big trees, but the house and workshop are fine. We have no power, so that means no water.

My friend Amanda brought her three boys, and we all survived.

This morning I started clearing the mess. I didn’t have a chainsaw. There was a big tree across the driveway, and there was nothing I could do. I had to drive around it.

I went out on the golf cart to check out the neighborhood, and I met a neighbor, running around on his 4-wheeler with his daughter on the back. Right away, that picture is promising. It got better. He’s an ex-Marine from North Carolina. He said his house was the one with the Marine Corps and American flags out front. Okay!

He said he had a tractor, if I needed help. I said I had a tractor but no chainsaw. He said, “I have a chainsaw.” Just like that. Doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat.

We exchanged contact info.

Amanda had to ferry her dogs and sons back to the farm where she lives, and when she came for the dog, we sat down and discussed God for a while. She told me some of the horrible things that had happened to her. Example: her parents refused to pay her prep school tuition, so her diploma was withheld for two years. She went to a crappy college, and she then applied to Harvard, where she was accepted. Her brother sat her down and said she needed to stay on the farm and look after her mom, who insists on living on the farm and telling everyone what to do even though she is indigent. The local college was good enough. Mind you, her brother is an attorney, not a mentally retarded person who bags groceries.

Anyway, we had a long and productive talk, and then I got up and went to the front of the house. I could not see the big downed tree. I went to take a look. Someone had cut it in pieces and moved them off the driveway. Yes, while my former neighbors in Miami were breaking in stores to steal $300 sneakers, my new neighbors were sneaking onto my property to clear away hurricane debris.

I texted one of them and asked who did what so I could thank them. I offered to help with whatever they were doing, but they were already shutting down. Figures. I would like to be known here for something other than stealing newspapers.

I didn’t steal newspapers. Not exactly.

There are two newspaper boxes out by the road. Ours is the bottom one. When we first came here, I took the paper from the wrong box, and I had to apologize profusely. Then a few days later, I had another newspaper problem.

I bought hurricane food. By this I mean junk food. Things you can eat without preparation. Yesterday morning, while I was getting ready for the storm, I found out my dad had been raiding the food. Great. I had to drive out and look for more. I found one gas station that was open, and I bought six double Snickers bars. Best I could do.

When I was on the way back in, I stopped by the mailbox. I grabbed the bag containing our paper. The paper boy had put it in the bag with the open side facing in, so when I pulled the bag, the paper fell out on the wet ground. I picked it up and went in the house, where I saw my dad…reading the newspaper. He had taken the neighbors’ paper again, and now the only replacement I had was wet.

I had to text them again, apologize, and let them know my dad was demented. They were very nice about it. I told them to take our newspaper at will, pretty much. This is the history I am now trying to live down.

I have learned to use the tractor. I have a few photos. I moved debris a few hundred yards, from the yard to the burn pile. Yes, I have a burn pile. I figured out what the forky thing on the front end loader is for. It’s for grabbing brush and dumping it. Yes, I just happened to move to a property that really needed a tractor with an attachment for moving trees and brush, and lo and behold, the tractor was there waiting for me.

I love using the tractor. Farm work doesn’t pay well, but on the other hand, it’s much more pleasant than office work. I have always enjoyed it. Now I’m pretty much obligated to do it, every week.

I’ll upload some photos of the tractor and burn pile.

This move has been very bad in some ways and very good in others, but whatever happens here, you could not pay me enough to get me to move back to Miami What a craphole. Excuse my language.

I’m off. If the power comes back on, you will hear more from me.

14 Comments »

Getting Ready for Company

September 9th, 2017

One More Day

I am still awaiting the winds of Hurricane Irma.

Today was uneventful. I bought two more flashlights, some rope, a can of WD-40, work gloves, a barbecue lighter, and lithium grease. Stuff I clearly needed. I drove around my yard picking up fallen branches and tossed them in the truck, and then I drove out to the burn area in the big pasture and dropped them there. I moved the big tractor out to the pasture and left it there so my friend Amanda will be able to put her SUV in the workshop during the storm.

The fallen branches are not from wind. There has been no wind. Ocala is a lightning magnet, and I am surrounded by tall trees that get hit a lot. Branches die and fall. Then I get to pick them up and burn them. I’m doing this so our moderate winds won’t blow them into the house.

I will not complain about that. I have a farm. I have a pickup truck. I have a burn pile. This is the kind of stuff I used to dream about. I keep thinking about Psalm 37:4: “Delight thyself also in the Lord: and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”

The storm track still looks pretty good for me. Miami’s somewhat-upsetting forecast has not panned out. It’s supposed to be blowing pretty good in Miami now, and I just checked and saw a figure of 9 mph. Gusts to 11, I think it said. Sooner or later, there will be wind, but I see it this way: if the forecast is wildly pessimistic at 6 p.m., it will probably be wildly pessimistic throughout the storm. If they’re predicting 74, maybe Miami will get 45.

I’m still not happy with the weather gurus. My dad’s dementia makes him forget what he knows about the forecast. The TV agitators get him wound up over and over, and I have to keep explaining what’s really happening. The hurricane is on every channel, so it’s inescapable. He has always spent several hours a day glued to the tube, and that habit is not going to change. He will be hearing about extinction-level Irma until two days after it’s over. So will I.

The ninnies who keep exaggerating the storm’s consequences should have to come here and comfort him, along with every other dementia patient they’ve upset. I’m not the only one who has to deal with this. Other people are making the same complaint.

Whatever happens will be over with in two days. I look forward to that.

I really, truly do not want to do without air conditioning and running water. There are certain minimum standards I expect my habitat to meet. I remember the times I’ve spent sitting indoors, watching drops of sweat fall off my nose, wondering when the power was coming back on. I do not want to go through that again.

I hope my tractor isn’t lonely out there.

6 Comments »

Wind

September 9th, 2017

We’re Getting Quite a Blow Here in the Living Room

My exasperation with the fake hurricane news industry is getting worse.

Here is the situation right now. Hurricane Irma, which is supposedly “bigger than Texas” is something like 250 miles from Miami. It’s northwest of a Cuban city called Moron (seriously). Texas is 800 miles wide. That means Miami should be over 150 miles into the hurricane right now. “Hurricane” means sustained winds of at least 75 mph. “Tropical storm” means 39 mph or more.

Get ready for some vexing figures.

The forecast on one site says Miami will have 25-35 mph winds today. That means 25 is the low side. Another site says 44. I checked the winds. Here is the actual figure (from a site which is predicting high winds on another page): 2.4.

That spot between the 2 and the 4 is a decimal point, not a typo.

Miami’s channel 7 is always the hysteria nerve center of Dade County, but right now, their website features some oddly comforting news. It has a page where you can see the marine forecast. During a real hurricane, seas will be maybe 20 feet high. Current figure: 2-3 feet. That is a hyphen between the 2 and the 3.

If you’re not a boater, let me tell you what 2-3 feet means. It’s ideal fishing weather. It can’t get much better.

Right now, immediately next to a city which is half-abandoned, you could sit in your boat with a case of beer and enjoy yourself, catching bonefish.

You tell me: how big do the glaring discrepancies have to get before we can call them lies?

If the forecast says 25 mph, minimum, then the wind should be at least 25 mph, right now. Minimum means “lowest value.” It should not be possible to see 2.4 mph on a day when the forecast says 25-35 mph.

I expect the wind to increase. I don’t think Miami will have 2-3 foot seas when Irma is at its closest, 100 miles away. I don’t think the winds will be down around 2.4 mph. But the weather people have presented strong evidence that the claims of 96 mph and so on have no support at all.

Is it possible they’re not lying? Maybe they’re using old data. Maybe they don’t update the local forecasts as fast as the big picture. I doubt that, however. Why would there be a difference? They know people are sitting at their PC’s or looking at their phones, waiting for news.

I smell lawyers and TV executives in all this. Lawyers always advise us to scare people as much as possible, so we can say they were warned when they sue us. TV executives want people scared so they’ll watch TV, and they don’t want viewers who didn’t prepare for storms to crucify them over coverage that was not sufficiently neurotic. The NHC brass probably pushes for overreaction, too.

I get it. People need to be awakened. They need to be sobered up so they’ll prepare. But lying after the danger has abated does not serve that purpose.

Barring a very unlikely event, Irma’s major winds will never get close to Miami or even the east coast of Florida, above the Keys. Let’s take a deep breath and face the truth: things look much better for the east coast than they did five days ago. It’s okay to admit it.

I should have done a much better job, getting ready for the storm. There is no denying that. But now that the outlook has improved greatly, I should not have to scour ten websites to find the good news, and I should not be seeing dishonest or misinformed Weather Channel personnel telling me the winds will be over a hundred mph over a hundred miles from the center of the storm.

If I were depending on TV and swallowing everything they said, I would have a very distorted picture of the immediate future right now. I would think I was in very serious trouble. I had to work to find the truth. I could not rely on the people whose job is to bring the truth to me. They are worse than useless. They make things worse.

Accuweather, which appears to be somewhat less panic-driven than the other outlets, says Miami should get eleven or twelve hours of winds over 60 mph. No mention of hurricane-force winds. I think we can cut the speeds by about 30%, to factor out the lawyers.

Miami looks pretty good, so on to Ocala. Right now, Accuweather is predicting maximum sustained winds of 58 mph for my area. Gusts could be a lot higher. They think we’ll get about ten hours of tropical storm winds. That’s not terrible. Gusts are local in nature, and they are brief. On top of that, if they’re predicting 58, we will probably see 35. If I had to guess, and my life depended on it, I’d predict that even mobile homes will make it, with a few exceptions.

It’s sad that I have to dig for the truth like this.

My friends and I are praying again today. Leah’s rental house is on track for a direct hit. I want this storm to go south and west and move farther from the coast. Join us if you will.

The NOAA discussion said the ridge that pushed Irma down was surprisingly strong. I would say that’s the result of God, reacting to prayer. Things that don’t make sense have supernatural causes. If God is willing to push Irma away from Miami, he will probably be willing to keep confounding the forecasters by pushing it away from Cudjoe Key and Ocala.

The current NOAA discussion says there is “good agreement” that Irma will follow the current track. Isn’t that interesting? Does that remind you of anything? The Beast always takes polls, because he has to guess. When God gives guidance, there is no need for consensus. He hands down the word, and that’s it. Weaker spirits and human beings have to vote and confer. When the true prophets of the Bible were in conflict with the fakers, it was generally one prophet against a herd of frauds who were in “good agreement” that he was wrong. They had a consensus. Only one individual knows where Irma is headed, unless he has told some of his servants.

The forecasters, who are, by definition, secular prophets, were in good agreement that Miami was going to be hit directly. Over the last few days, God has consistently proven them wrong. I will keep trying to persuade him to continue. This storm would look great as a disintegrated blob in the Gulf. I wish we God’s model, to put on the map with the computer models.

More blogging as news develops or fails to do so.

2 Comments »

Fake Hurricane News

September 8th, 2017

THE END IS HERE

It’s time to repeat my eternal criticism of the hurricane press: they make things seem worse than they are.

Whenever a storm gets close to Florida, they do their best to make people think it’s headed right for their houses. When a storm moves toward Miami and then changes direction, they wait as long as possible before admitting Miami isn’t taking a hit.

Fake news at its best.

The fake hurricane news people have a lot of reasons for lying to us. For one thing, hysteria increases viewership. When you’ve spent a lot of money gearing your station up for constant hurricane coverage, you don’t want to say things like, “Oops. Never mind.” Viewers will relax, turn off the TV, and go to bed. Here’s another motivator: if they underestimate the thread, people will raise hell later on. The news people don’t want people telling them their homes got messed up because they listened to rosy forecasts and didn’t prepare. In today’s ridiculous legal environment, a station could conceivably get sued. “Dear 96-year-old Effa May here believed you when you said Hurricane Bob wasn’t going to hit her trailer…”

I am no meteorologist, but it looks like they’re lying to us now.

According to the Internet, Irma’s hurricane-force winds extend outward from the center something like 65 miles. That means if you’re over 65 miles away, you will not experience a hurricane. You will get a tropical storm, which means winds of 74 mph or less. The 74 mph figure applies to the 65-mile mark. If you’re farther away, you will get lower winds.

They now expect the center of the storm to be about 100 miles away from Miami when it passes. That means Miami would be 35 miles past the hurricane zone. Nonetheless, they’re claiming it will be like a Category 3 storm in Miami. Category 3 means a minimum of 96 mph, sustained. Not gusts. Sustained. In order for that to happen, the center of the storm will have to be what? Maybe 30 miles away? Come on.

They’re telling us Irma is the size of Texas. No, it’s not. Not the important part. Texas is 800 miles wide. Irma’s hurricane zone is around 130 miles wide. Eyeballing the map, it appears that the tropical storm zone is around 400 miles wide. That’s half of 800. Sure, there may be clouds extending out over 800 miles. Are you afraid of clouds? A cloud 400 miles from the center of a hurricane is just a cloud.

Here is what appears to be true, from a person who is capable of reading a map and doing high school geometry: unless Irma deviates 35 or more miles east of the projected path, Miami will not get hurricane winds. If it deviates exactly 35 miles east, Miami will get low Category 1 winds. If it stays on track or deviates west, Miami will get winds considerably lower than 75 mph.

I survived Andrew. I knew Andrew. Irma…you’re no Andrew.

Andrew’s winds within the Miami area reached at least 170 mph, not including tornadoes. I saw four-foot-thick concrete power poles twisted off at their bases. That can’t happen when the hurricane’s center is a hundred miles away.

A few days ago, we were looking at a 185-mph storm that appeared likely to hit Miami dead center as a Category 5. Now it’s expected to be somewhere around 150 mph, a long way off. Big, big difference.

Maybe I’m wrong, but at least I’m giving you the same facts I pick up from the NHC’s data. Are there secret facts out there that I don’t know about? Are Irma’s winds actually 250 miles wide, making them highly likely to hit Miami? If so, why does the NHC say otherwise on its website?

Of course, hurricanes change their minds. Irma could surprise us. It could go straight through Miami. It could make a hard left and go to South America. It could veer east while staying within the cone of uncertainty. But it can’t stay on course and do what they’re saying it will do, if the wind figures they’re giving us are correct. It can’t be Category 4 in Naples and Category 3 in Miami AND have a hurricane zone 130 miles wide. Not possible.

Maybe Texas is really small, and they lie about it because they’re insecure.

If Irma doesn’t move east of its predicted track, I expect Miami to be fine. A few trees will fall, and a few thousand people will lose power because of the primitive, vulnerable power grid. That will be it. Unless those secret facts come into play.

I’m very glad I have not been watching the news. The few minutes I’ve endured have done nothing but raise my blood pressure and offend me.

I will keep praying for Irma to fail. Things look a whole lot better than they did yesterday. Thank you, God. Your patience is wonderful.

1 Comment »

Storm Reprieve

September 8th, 2017

Irma Moved

Well, this is a good day.

I spent most of the day preparing for the guest invasion. The house was supposed to be full of kids during the storm, and my dad and I needed things, so I bought all sorts of stuff. Then my friend Amanda came by to help. We moved junk around in the garage and the workshop so she and my friend Teri would be able to park indoors, and then I decided to try to move the tractor outside. It takes up two cars’ worth of room.

Starting a Kubota is a real project. There are about ten things you have to adjust. The manual lists the whole procedure, and it lists different versions of it for different tractors. I kept looking for knobs and levers my tractor didn’t have. I still haven’t found everything the manual said to find.

At long last, I got everything adjusted so the tractor’s lawyered-up computer was happy, and it agreed to start. I moved it into the small pasture and left it there with a bag on the seat to keep rain out. There is nothing worse than sitting on a wet tractor seat and having all the water squoosh out into your pants.

Here is Amanda with the tractor. Proof that it moved.

At some point toward the end of this, I realized it was after 5 p.m., meaning the National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. update was posted. I checked my phone. Hurricane Irma’s forecast path had moved maybe twenty miles farther west! What a relief! If it keeps on this track, the area where all the stuff that belongs to me and my dad is will only get tropical-storm-force winds. That, I can handle. It won’t rip roofs off, break windows, or sink my dad’s yacht. Probably. A tropical storm is not a very big deal. Not unless it carries a lot of rain. Irma does not.

I have that feeling you get when you know the worst is not going to happen. It’s as if adrenaline is ice, and you feel it melting and running down out of your body, like meltwater running through cracks in a mountain.

I can’t say Irma is behind me. It can still change course. But it appears that God heard me and the other people who prayed. And maybe he heard Jennifer Lawrence, who appeared to blame the storm on people who voted for Trump.

I had been praying for the storm to move east, away from my personal concerns and also those of my friend Leah. I do not want to see her house in the Keys get pummeled. Now things are looking much better for me, but they are worse for her. I think the only option is to pray for it to keep moving west.

I feel like I just got sprung from death row. This storm was set up to cause me very, very serious problems. I hope God will see fit to keep pushing it away.

Thanks, if you prayed for us. Leah still needs prayer, so don’t stop. We will see you on the other side of this.

1 Comment »

Bread and Water

September 8th, 2017

Preparing for the Blow

I just got back from K-Mart. That is very exciting, because K-Mart has bottled water. Every store in Marion County is dry, or so I thought. I went into K-Mart to buy a bread pan, and I saw big stacks of purified water in the aisles.

God bless K-Mart.

I took four cases. That’s a lot for two people, right? Yes. But it looks like there will be…let me count…twelve people in my house when the storm goes by.

My friend Amanda lives in a flimsy structure, and she has three young boys. My friend Alonzo has to work during the storm, and he doesn’t want his wife and five kids to be alone in their house in Orlando. My house (the lower story, at least) is made of concrete, so all these people will be spending the night.

There is nearly no furniture on the second story of the house. I had this nutty idea that after a week or so of settling in, I would be able to start looking for beds and so on. Then my dad had to be hospitalized, we had big problems with Atlas Van Lines, and a hurricane reared up and threatened our properties in both Dade and Marion Counties. Also, the couch I ordered arrived with forklift holes and had to be sent back. Needless to say, I am not accomplishing much RE furniture.

I suppose my friends are bringing sleeping bags and air mattresses. If not, welcome to the floor. We have a few molded lawn chairs and some rockers we are bringing in off the porches, but this house is not what you would call furnished.

I’m concerned about losing electricity. I hate life without air conditioning, and because our water comes from a well with a private pump, I would experience darkness, heat, room temperature food, and the joy of using buckets to flush the toilets. I had a stroke of very good news today. One of our neighbors works for the electric company. I am told this speeds up repairs to this neighborhood. Viva corruption, I guess.

I don’t know what to do about vehicles. I have a lot of garage space, but it’s full. I have two tractors. I’m thinking I should put one in the goat shed (don’t ask) and one in the middle of a pasture. I don’t think a hurricane will hurt a farm tractor. One of my friends just got an SUV, and the other depends on a Honda Pilot to feed her kids. I would feel funny worrying about a tractor when expensive vehicles are at risk.

My truck has an insurance policy with a $50 damage deductible. I got that after some kid shot the rear windshield out with a slingshot. I could put the truck outside and hope a huge tree hits it. New truck for $50. I don’t think the winds here will be bad enough to damage it, though, especially if it’s in the middle of a pasture. Hard to say.

I feel much better about the storm’s path, at least on my own account. They now believe it will hit pretty far west of Miami. If the predictions are right, Miami will be close to the boundary between tropical storm and hurricane. If that happens, the things that belong to me and my dad will only get winds of, say, 75 mph. That’s not good, but it beats 170, which is about what we got from Andrew.

I’m concerned about my friend Leah, who has a rental house in the keys. As Irma’s path moves west, it puts her house in more danger. On the plus side, she’s on the ocean side, and the storm surge will come from the Florida Bay side. Also, her house is on concrete stilts.

I have been fasting and praying for both of us, as well as Amanda and Alonzo. It would be nice if everyone’s property was spared.

There has been a lot of fasting this week. Leah, Amanda, and my friend Travis have all joined in. Yesterday something really crazy happened. My dad said he would fast if it would help. I did not know what to make of that. He thinks Christianity is superstition. I was stunned. I encouraged him to join us, and he fasted part of the day. We were only fasting until 6 p.m., and he didn’t know about it until after breakfast. Still! How about that God of ours?

I keep asking God to help me bring him as much pleasure as possible, and to help me avoid bringing him displeasure. The Bible clearly says our purpose is to give God pleasure; it says his pleasure is the reason he created us. Might as well be direct when I pray. Might as well confront the issue that is most fundamental to God.

This has been a very tough couple of weeks. I will not lie. We had a lot of problems we did not expect, and now Irma is threatening to obliterate a lot of our net worth. I have slept very badly. I have a lot of supernatural tools for reducing stress, but I don’t use them as much as I should, so I pay the price. Beginning night before last, I started feeling a lot more peace. Today I feel it very strongly. I hope God sees fit to continue it. If the power goes off and we end up living out of buckets in a roasting-hot house, life could be very unpleasant for one or more weeks. I don’t know what I would do. We might have to move somewhere.

In any case, God has been very kind, shifting this storm away from a city that greatly deserves it. If Irma misses our stuff, I will not waste the opportunity to prepare and strategize better.

I still have to bake bread, because buying it is not an option today. I have to take my dad to get food. I have to clean this place up. I need to check the tractor. Lots to do.

Please keep praying for us. If God doesn’t want to send the storm north into the open ocean, maybe he’ll be willing to run it through the empty Everglades, and out into the Gulf. After that, it could be driven into a sparsely populated area in Central America.

Jennifer Lawrence may have helped us with this storm. Supposedly, she suggested Irma was Mother Nature’s punishment for the election of President Trump. God put Trump in the White House to help his people and to hinder the children of the enemy for a time, so I don’t think God wants godless liberals to get away with mocking the people who elected him. They seem to love it when disasters hit conservative areas. I hope God will stand up for us.

Houston is not a conservative town. It’s minority-heavy, so many people vote for the sugar daddy party. Something to think about.

Please keep praying for us. I could use a week without a crisis.

2 Comments »

Irma L’Aigre

September 6th, 2017

Forget Gold; Invest in Water

I started blogging about Irma, but I have been too busy to stick to it.

I’m not sure it would be possible for a major hurricane to hit Miami at a worse time for me. We still have property there, and I am trying to sell my dad’s boat, which he keeps in the water, not in a big safe building.

Even in Ocala, which is extremely unlikely to have any major problems, the hurricane-crazy bug has bitten. I had to wait in line for 15 minutes to get gas today, and it looks like bottled water and batteries are unavailable. When I got to the gas station, some guy was putting 80 gallons in an RV, and other people were filling gas cans as well as their vehicles. Not sure if I should be angry about that.

I learned one useful thing: diesel doesn’t sell out like gas. Unfortunately, my diesel truck’s tailgate decided never to latch again as soon as I got here. I am trying to fix it. I may have to remove it. That will be fun, with no help.

In case anyone wants to help, here is what I’m praying for: I’m asking God to break Irma up and send it straight north, and for him to keep it away from the US.

Things could be worse. I could be in Miami.

Thanks for whatever prayers you are willing to offer.

By the way, people are price-gouging in Miami. What a great time to load up on bottled water and rip off your neighbors.

9 Comments »

Dividends

September 3rd, 2017

I always repeat something my mother told me. She said you’re very lucky if you have one good friend. I have several good friends, so I guess I’m pretty blessed.

This weekend I had to go to Miami to retrieve various things the movers didn’t bring. I also had to get my pickup truck started and bring it back to Ocala. I was not looking forward to the trip. Miami is boiling hot this time of year; it feels like the sun has turned inside out. Also, I just generally don’t want to be in Miami. I foresaw a great deal of miserable, sweaty work, combined with suffering simply from being in a rotten place full of rude people who can’t drive.

A week or so back, I was talking to my old friend Alonzo. I met him back during my Trinity Church days. We were both armorbearers. I told him about my upcoming trip. He said he was off this weekend, and he insisted on going with me. He and his family live in Orlando. He’s one of the hardest-working people I know. He has five kids, from four years old to fourteen. He never gets to sit down. But he spent his free weekend driving 300 miles to help me retrieve things from a place he hates.

He used to live in Miami. It was not a good experience. The year before he moved to Orlando, he applied for 47 jobs and got no offers. When he decided to move to Orlando, he applied for 6 jobs in the area, and he got 6 offers. He’s black, and he does not speak Spanish. Sorry to say it, but neither of those qualities is helpful in a city where Cubans do most of the hiring. He has a good job now, and so does his wife. They live in a house, not a cheesy apartment. They have two nice vehicles.

He says visiting Miami makes him feel miserable. He doesn’t even like to go there to visit family.

Anyway, he said he was going to help me get my junk, and my law school friend Amanda donated her weekend to looking after my dad. She brought her three boys to the house, and they stayed here. She cooked and generally fretted over my dad. She brought food. When I returned this evening, there were brownies and praline pecans waiting. That’s Amanda for you.

My friend Travis is watching my dad’s house while we get it ready to rent. This is advantageous to him, because he gets free housing while he attends the University of Miami, but it’s a huge help to me. No one is going to break in with him there, and he can help me with long-distance problems that pop up.

I picked Alonzo up on Saturday morning, and off we went. We had a funny conversation as we got closer to Miami. We kept noticing the rudeness of the drivers increasing. Aloud, we wondered what acts of rudeness would welcome us to Dade County. We knew it was coming. It always does. You leave town, you relax, and then when you drive back, the tension increases, and suddenly people are cutting you off in traffic or tailgating or being nasty to you when you stop to get gas. I guess everyone says the same thing we do: “Welcome to Miami!”

He kept correcting me when I used the word “home” to refer to Miami, and I thanked him for that. Miami has never been my home, and it damned sure isn’t now.

Excuse my emotion.

When we got to the house, Travis had arranged the remaining junk as well as possible, so the house looked less like the scene of a tornado. I appreciated that. He wasn’t home, but Alonzo helped me with everything I needed to do. He helped me put two new batteries in the truck. He helped me remove all the valuable items from my dad’s yacht, which is important now that we’re selling it. He put boxes together. He organized the whole affair.

The next day, Travis, Alonzo and I spent several unpleasant hours packing things and putting them in my truck and my dad’s SUV. The sun was so hot, stepping out of the glare and into the shade felt like walking into an air-conditioned house. Sweat ran off of all of us. They never complained. Not once. They grabbed the heaviest things before I could.

We got two scuba tanks, an 80-cubic-foot C25 tank, a 125-cubic-foot argon tank, over a dozen big toolboxes, numerous rifles, heavy ammunition, cast iron cookware, stainless pots, lots of power tools, a 3-foot pipe wrench, and other things I can’t even remember. A compressor. A refrigerated air dryer. A huge phase converter in a steel cabinet.

We didn’t get to the house in Ocala until nearly 7 p.m. When I got there, Amanda and Alonzo flew into action. Amanda carried the C25 tank and the refrigerated air dryer. That startled me. Alonzo carried the compressor. I was busy myself, so I couldn’t stop them. I would turn around, and there they would be, lugging my belongings.

Loading the vehicles took several hours. Unloading probably took fifteen minutes. Even my dad got into the act.

When we were done, Alonzo’s wife showed up in their SUV with their 5 kids. They poured in. The whole house lit up. Alonzo’s kids and Amanda’s kids got along great. I showed them the pool and told them they were welcome any time their parents saw fit to bring them.

I saw my goddaughter Gabriella hugging Amanda’s son Sean like he was the greatest thing she had ever seen. She hugs everyone. I don’t know what has come over her. It hasn’t been that long since she bit me at my old church.

Everyone had to clear out in a very short time because of the hour. Alonzo and crew had to get back to Orlando, and I’m sure Amanda was ready to go home.

The house was in better shape than when I left it. Most of my crucial junk was here where I needed it. Not bad.

Alonzo insists he’s going to make another run with me. I can get a U-Haul and a hitch for the truck, and he wants to start on a Friday night and drive back on a Sunday. This is the guy who hates Miami more than I do. Maybe.

When you invest in people, it pays off. You may not be able to get a return from the people you wish would return your feelings, but God will send you people who will reciprocate. He will choose them for you, to replace the dysfunctional relatives, selfish spouses, and so on.

The Bible says we should seek to accumulate treasure in heaven. That means people. When you make a good Christian friend on earth, you create a treasure that will be with you forever in heaven. Paying off, eternally.

It’s nice to have people visit, especially when they’re real friends and not superficial business acquaintances. It warms the place up. I know of a few more who will come eventually.

The house seemed somewhat cold and lifeless when I first got here. There were a lot of disturbing, unpleasant problems to contend with, and there were only two of us, banging around in a big empty place. I started to wonder if God had really guided me here. Maybe I had chosen the house myself, in selfishness or recklessness. Things keep happening to suggest that his hand is in this move. I’m very grateful for that.

I better get in the shower. I have to mow tomorrow. And who knows what else I’ll have to do? I really hope Irma doesn’t hit Miami. I can’t even guess how I would deal with that.

God will fix it. He always does.

Make sure you invest in people. People are the only wealth you can take with you.

3 Comments »

Who was that Masked Man?

August 31st, 2017

The Lawn Ranger Rides Again

Here is a quick one for you. I finished the small pasture.

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He Maketh me to Drive in Circles in Green Pastures

August 30th, 2017

The New Adventures of Tractor Boy

I received a pleasant reminder tonight. You can’t enjoy living in Ocala unless you go outside.

For the last ten days or so, I’ve been living like a cockroach, shunning the light and sitting indoors, working on an endless stream of unexpected problems. I kept wanting to go out to the shop and enjoy it, but I put it off. Always busy or tired.

Tonight I got a little time to myself, and I went out to look things over. The other day I managed to get the garden tractor running, and I butchered the yard, but it wasn’t very relaxing. I was nervous about running into things, and I didn’t know how to run the machine, and then, of course, it started raining. Tonight was a little different.

The property has one side which is woods and another side which is pasture. The pasture is getting overgrown, and it makes me nervous. I don’t know anything about farming, but I know you don’t want three-foot-high grass and weeds in a pasture, and I don’t know how a bush hog will feel about cutting it when it gets too tall. There is also a small pasture behind the house, and it was getting tall, too.

I decided to mow the “road”(grass track) that runs from the house end of the property to the end of the pasture, down by the highway. After some confusion and false starts, I got the John Deere running and took off.

I don’t know if you’re supposed to mow foot-high grass with a garden tractor, but I was not ready to risk death on the farm tractor, and I figured I could get away with cutting a narrow swath. We have a twenty-foot-wide circular burn area in the big pasture, and I decided to mow around that, too, so I wouldn’t have to walk through a jungle to burn limbs.

When we bought this land, I thought mowing was one of the major down sides. Boy, was I wrong. It’s very relaxing, and it puts you in contact with the nature you paid for. I spend about two hours zipping around in my Rural King hat and my Gun Muffler ear protectors. I didn’t stop until it was too dark to mow safely. The tractor has headlights, and I actually used them.

It’s very satisfing, seeing a scary overgrowth of weeds and grass lie down in an orderly, sheared carpet of green. You can walk in mowed grass. You don’t have to worry as much about snakes and other critters surprising you. You can see where to put your foot when you walk. When you mow, you show that someone is in control and that he cares.

I learned a number of things. First of all, when you mow in a spiral, you want the grass to shoot out of the outer side of the tractor. You don’t want to shoot it into an area you’ll have to mow on your next pass. If you do that, you keep piling mown grass up in the center of your spiral, and the mower has to deal with it over and over. It kills your speed.

I also learned that evenings are the best time to mow. Either that or early in the morning. The sun is just too brutal in the middle of the day. You have to be stupid to mow at noon.

The mower gets things done a lot faster than I expected. It really cooks. I’m sure it would be even faster if the grass were lower.

I don’t plan to mow the whole pasture with a garden tractor, but I can clear the road, and that allows me to get to the far end and out the gate onto the swale by the highway. I’m responsible for that swale, so I need a path a garden tractor can handle. I do hope I don’t get pancaked by a semi while I’m mowing it.

It’s scary using the garden tractor. I have come to realize that it sounds disturbed even when you use it correctly, and that has helped. It’s hard to get used to the fact that it has no clutch. You just ram it into gear, whether it likes it or not. Also, you turn on the PTO without a clutch, while the engine is running. That feels wrong, but the manual says it’s right.

I’m nearly sure I dinged one blade when I mowed the front yard, but I have no way to get under the tractor to change it. I need a set of ramps, as I understand it.

I did everything I wanted to in the big pasture, but I left maybe three-quarters of an acre in the little pasture. It was just too dark and too late. I don’t want to drive into a hole or a stump I can’t see. I’m definitely an amateur, leaving it that way, but I can knock it off in half an hour tomorrow.

When I was a kid, my dad got a push mower and figured I would use it. It had powered front wheels, so really, you just steered it. We both lost interest, and I forgot all about it. I didn’t like it much. I was lazy, and it wasn’t fun to use. A tractor is different. It’s a pleasure to use. I thought people were nuts when they said they liked mowing, but now I get it. Mowing is fine. Pushing a heavy machine that takes two hours to finish half an acre is what’s not fun.

Maybe I shouldn’t mow the little pasture. I’m told I may be able to sell hay. You find someone who makes round bales, and he mows in exchange for part of the proceeds. I suppose the little pasture has some potential. Thing is, it makes a very nice extension to the back yard. I don’t think it’s worth it to give up foot access to it for a few dollars.

Hay could get me a tax exemption next year, so letting the big pasture grow is probably a good move.

I look forward to the cooler months. I moved at the worst possible time. It’s boiling hot during the day. Mid-90’s. A month from now, I should start to see some relief. I was here in March, and it was wonderful. There will be cold days, but let’s be serious. Forty degrees is not cold. I lived in New York and Kentucky, and I know what it’s like to have two weeks of temperatures at or below zero, with thick snow everywhere. Northern Florida cold is a joke. It will be uncomfortable some times, but come on. While I’m complaining about forty degrees, people up north will be wondering which six-foot-deep pile of snow is their car.

I should have posted some photos. No one would have been impressed, though. Because the grass was so high, it was not an elegant cut. This was not maintenance mowing. This was desperation mowing, to get the height reduced at all costs before it was too late. If I want to make it pretty, I’ll have to wait until next time.

Anyway, I’m glad I got to mow a little. I feel that God used this to remind me that things are going to be okay here. If I sit in the house and look at the computer all day, life will be depressing and empty, but if I take advantage of the things that drew me here in the first place, I’ll enjoy myself. Moving here and sitting in the house is like moving to Miami and staying on shore. The only thing Miami has going for it is the ocean, and if you don’t make use of it, all you have is a rude, sweaty city with terrible traffic, high prices, and no culture.

Pray I don’t destroy my machinery while I’m learning to use it.

By the way, I checked, and they do make gun racks for golf carts. Does my golf cart really need a gun rack? Who cares? That’s not the point. Gun racks are fun, and they make a statement. That statement is, “I am all about conservative overkill.” I almost feel like getting a Confederate flag, just to make it worse. But that would be disingenuous. I gave up on the stars and bars years ago, because of slavery.

In any case, it will be good to have a .22 or the 16-gauge with me out there. We have rattlesnakes, possums, coons, and coyotes. I don’t want to kill possums. They’re harmless, obsequious creatures. But it looks like one is pooping on my front walk regularly. Coons…I hate. The first time you pick up trash after a coon, all your thoughts of cuteness and charm will evaporate. As for rattlesnakes, they should all be killed. Let the greenies whine. Rattlesnakes do horrible things to people. Google and see what a snake bite looks like after the poison has done its work.

Maybe I’ll get to shoot a little soon. This place is perfect for practicing with the .17 HMR and scope.

That’s all for tonight. Time to shower and look forward to another day.

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The Moravian Slave Myth

August 29th, 2017

God Doesn’t Need our Lies

I decided to interrupt this morning’s prayers to write.

Today I supplemented my prayers with some Youtube videos. I looked for Fred Stone, a preacher I admire. Here is a video I watched. His testimony is remarkable, and because he preached for about 60 years and never made much money doing it, it’s credible.

When I searched for Fred Stone, I came across a video featuring audio of preachers talking about the selfishness of modern Christianity and the need for repentance and confession. The video was great, but one of the preachers told a story that caused me to pause and Google. He repeated the Moravian slave myth.

Here is how the story goes. Two young “Moravians” (actually members of a sect that had “Moravian” in the name) heard of a Caribbean island owned by a man who would not permit preachers to talk to his slaves. They decided to sell themselves into slavery and go to the island to preach. When they left their families in Europe, they knew they would never see them again.

Problem: it didn’t happen. It sounded fishy to me, so I checked it out. I knew white men could not sell themselves into slavery.

Here is what really happened. Two men named Dober and Nitschmann offered to sell themselves into slavery so they could work as slaves on St. Thomas and preach the gospel. Because they were white, they couldn’t become slaves. Instead, they traveled as free men. Dober worked as a carpenter, and Nitschmann helped him. Nitschmann left for Europe in a few weeks, and Dober left after less than two years. They did preach, but they didn’t give their lives away in order to do it.

Stories like this are harmful, because people hear them and think they can never serve God. I can’t imagine selling myself into slavery and moving to a bug-infested tropical island where I would be beaten and forced to labor in the sun all day, every day, until I died. If I thought I had to do a thing like that in order to please God, I would be very disturbed, because I know I’m not strong enough to do it. It would discourage me. God gave me a phrase earlier this year: “We discourage people.” It’s true. We try to bury people under burdens God never intended them to carry.

Jesus said his yoke was easy and his burden was light. I assume he told the truth.

As far as we know, Jesus only had one bad day in his entire life. We never read that he was sick, that he was beaten for preaching, that he starved, or that he had to beg. We never read that he had to work as a slave or even an oppressed employee. To me, that suggests that the more aligned you are with the Holy Spirit, the more smoothly your life will go. This has been my experience. I will be rejected, and I may be murdered some day, but I don’t expect to live in pain and frustration as a general rule.

The Bible is full of promises God has made to the obedient, and most of the promises are about his help with life on earth, not in heaven. I’m sure God will deliver you from slavery if you’re a slave when you give your heart to him. I think it would be very unusual for him to tell a person to give up an ordinary life, which is hard enough as it is, and submit to things like forced labor, beatings, incarceration, castration, complete poverty, and separation from loved ones.

We don’t have to pay for heaven. It’s not a vacation you pay for in advance. It’s a gift. God doesn’t say, “Well, Bob sold himself into slavery and died toothless and alone at the age of 76, on a tropical plantation, shivering with malaria, so now I owe him eternity in heaven.” Someone else paid for heaven. We’re supposed to obey and make certain sacrifices, but we don’t trade earthly agony for heavenly bliss. The Bible says sin, not righteousness, has wages. We earn hell. Heaven is provided free of charge. If it wasn’t, the crucifixion would have been pointless. What was Jesus paying for? His own salvation? How would that help us?

Jesus was already saved when he was crucified. He had nothing to pay for, so if he wasn’t paying our bills, what was he doing?

Why would God make serving him so hard, no one would have the strength to try?

I heard something else when I watched the video. A preacher said he went to Africa to teach about salvation and end earthly suffering, but when he arrived, he found that the people already knew about Jesus but wanted no part of him. They loved sin. Isn’t that something? You create a mission for yourself, you sacrifice everything for it, and then you find out it’s a waste of time, because God didn’t tell you to do it.

Didn’t Jesus tell the disciples where to cast their nets? Has he stopped doing that? Has he decided he wants us to fail?

As you get older, if you have any brains, you will find that most people can’t be helped. They choose not to be helped. You can give them assistance, money, and things, but they will squander them and end up worse off than when you showed up, and even then, they will refuse to change. This is not something to marvel at. It’s completely normal. It’s the way the world works. People who can be blessed are in the minority. The world is not like a store full of shiny new things that are full of potential. It’s like a landfill with a few salvageable items in it.

The world is like a filthy, stinking dumpster full of excrement and rotten meat, and we are like cockroaches that live on the outside of it. Hell is inside the earth, and its stink permeates the surface. The earth is really an extension of hell. It’s like the front porch. God has been overwhelmingly rejected, many times, and Satan is, as Jesus said, the god of this world. The earth is very, very far from God. It’s not the focus of his universe, as people tend to believe. It’s like Africa; a distant, lost, screwed-up country God visits as a banned missionary. Human beings are not God’s children, until they choose to become such. By default, we are really just stubborn monkeys on our way to hell, and God manages to turn a few of us into successful projects.

You have to be very careful with charity. You have to ask God whom you should help, because the world is packed with people who will turn you into an enabler and neutralize your very existence. The things you do for them will be nearly worthless, and you will be kept from doing things that are profitable.

I don’t want to get distracted and forget the valuable things I heard in the video. I was reminded how filthy I am. I have nothing I can hold up to God for praise. I have done so many disgusting things, I have no hope of justifying myself. I have hurt a lot of people. I have failed to help people I could have helped. I have been extremely disrespectful and ungrateful to the one who allowed himself to be tortured to death for me. Change requires an end to denial. If I want to continue to grow, I have to admit what I am when I talk to God.

I don’t want to be a Joel Osteen Christian. The burden is light, and the yoke is easy, but God didn’t endure murder in order to make my life a resort stay. I’m supposed to be close to him, and I’m supposed to welcome his criticism and instruction.

Time to finish praying. Hope I have not bored you.

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