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Milo Opinion of Angry Pundits

February 21st, 2017

Secular Conservatives: Your Money is on the Dresser

I see Milo Yiannopoulos is in trouble.

Let’s see if I understand this right. He is gay. He is conservative. He is loved because he is aggressive and angry, and probably because conservatives like to point to him and say, “See? We’re all about the gay.”

Isn’t that about right?

To me, he’s just Ann Coulter or Ted Nugent with gay mixed in. I’m not suggesting he’s as smart as Ann Coulter or even Ted Nugent, but he seems like someone conservatives love simply because he makes their adversaries suffer. I never thought he was good for the GOP.

It seems like conservatives are divided. There are those who admit that the GOP is the party of Jesus and those who think we’re just the party of stinginess. Yiannopoulos appealed to the latter group.

When I say we’re the part of Jesus, I just mean Christianity is the primary thing that binds us, and it’s the primary reason people hate us. I’m not suggesting the Republican party is a religious organization or that we’re as morally superior as we like to think we are.

People are accusing Yiannopoulos of endorsing pedophilia. I don’t know if that’s correct, but based on my reading of his remarks, it seems pretty close to the truth.

Most of us don’t distinguish between pedophilia, which is the abuse of prepubescent children, and the abuse of teenagers for whom puberty has at least begun. Yiannopoulos seems to be in favor of the latter. It’s not pedophilia, exactly, but it’s still bad, so the difference may not be very important here.

He talked about lusting after older men and having sex with them at the age of 13 or 14. He described himself as the aggressor. He also said positive things about relationships in which older homosexuals serve as emotional anchors for “boys” with whom they have sex.

It seems fair to say that Yiannopoulos supports sexual relationships between teenage boys and grown men. Isn’t that exactly what homosexuals are always telling us doesn’t really happen (in spite of the fact that our cities are full of teenage male prostitutes)?

Does that make him sufficiently immoral to justify the things CPAC, his publisher, and (allegedly) Breitbart are doing to him, to distance themselves from the smell of his scandal? I think so. The mistake was embracing him to begin with. His moral positions put him too far outside the camp, and apart from that, do we really need someone who makes us appear more mean-spirited? Aren’t we trying to fight that baseless image?

It’s always hard to decide whom to align oneself with. President Trump is an adulterer who owns casinos where people go to get drunk and gamble. On the other hand, he is helping Christians, Israel, and the unborn, and we had no better alternative. If we’re to be criticized for backing him, it should be for backing him in the primaries, not the general election. In the general election, the alternative was a bona fide horror.

Solutions that offend God are bad, regardless of which political party resorts to them. I shouldn’t say “resorts” with regard to the Democrats, because they don’t have to be coerced to oppose God. They voted against him four times, by voice, on TV, at their own convention. They oppose God in their hearts, so they jump at any chance they get to offend him with their actions and policies. Anyway, Yiannopoulos was a stealth dumpster fire from the time he first gained prominence. We shouldn’t have expected anything good to come from promoting him.

We will reject him now, in all likelihood, and you know what Shakespeare said: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” He’s not a woman, but given his temperament, he is likely to react like one. He may become the ex-girlfriend from hell. Remember David Brock?

You have to wonder what feckless conservatives have told him in confidence. Will he disappear quietly, or will some outfit like Huffpo (founded by a scorned traitor) seduce him and use him against us?

I just remembered…Breitbart himself…Saint Andrew…helped start Huffpo. What funny heroes we have.

I didn’t develop my opinion of Breitbart from watching the news or reading his site. I developed it from behind-the-scenes knowledge, starting before his site existed. When I see the T-shirts with his face on them, I don’t get the same feeling other conservatives get.

Politics is interesting, but religion is what makes or breaks a nation. I may comment on political stories because they’re intriguing, but I am not a participant in the political game. Not even on a blogging level. I never link to anyone any more. I rejected PJ Media when they asked about writing for them. I don’t contribute to campaigns. I will never go to a Trump rally. That stuff doesn’t work.

It will be interesting to see what happens.


Escape From Miami

February 20th, 2017

Choosing Houses Takes Horse Sense

I feel a little better now that the shock of driving to Miami from America is wearing off.

Today I’m working on various responsibilities and preparing for a visit to Marion County to see the area and visit some houses. The knowledge that getting out of Dade County will take months is weighing on me.

I went to a forum to ask people from the Ocala area some questions, and while I was there, I couldn’t resist looking at posts regarding Miami. People were considering moving there.

I had to say something. I was honest. I said the people were very rude and the traffic was horrible. I said Miami had no culture. I said black people got bad treatment here, which is very true. Cuba had a political revolution, but it never had a civil rights revolution.

Some character popped up and accused me of creating an account just to “bash” Miami. Yeah, okay. What about the people who said they agreed with me? I didn’t see a convenient explanation for their remarks.

To prove Miami had culture, this person posted a video of someone singing in a bar!

I don’t know why a person who lives in an unpleasant city would pimp it to unsuspecting visitors. Why bring people here with crazy expectations? I would be pretty upset if I moved here thinking this was a nice place to live. If people tell you the truth, at least you can prepare and adjust.

It’s tough to figure out which properties are best. It seems like people in Marion County don’t follow the universal rule of pricing houses 5-10% higher than what they really expect to receive. The prices seem completely random. The realtor is sending me places with asking prices more than 15% above my limit, and he says they’re “negotiable.” If your asking price is nearly 20% higher than what your house is worth, you’re not a negotiator. You’re a scam artist. You’re trying to fleece somebody.

If you don’t know what properties really cost, it’s hard to decide which ones to look at. If your baseball glove budget is $50, and the store prices the good ones at $75 and sells them for $50, you’re going to look at the cheap ones and end up paying $30.

I wonder what a baseball glove costs. The last time I bought one, my dad was not in a spending mood, so I got one from KMart for $5. I cut the label out so I wouldn’t have to hear about it from the other kids.

Wow. I just saw one for $99.

I don’t even have a KMart glove now. I think it was one of the many items that belonged to me that got discarded when my parents moved. I guess I can get by without one at my age.

I have to have a place for tools, and that doesn’t mean half a garage. It means serious room. Some places don’t have workshops. Some have barns with tooly-looking areas that have concrete floors. How hard is it to turn them into shops? Search me.

There are a number of great properties with really bad houses. Florida is known for ugly houses. If you want a geodesic dome made of pink fiberglass, this is the state where you should look for it. It’s sad that so many nice lots have houses that look like machine gun bunkers or log cabins.

Who, in his right mind, builds a 3500-square-foot log cabin? You will never be able to sell a log cabin house to any family that contains a heterosexual woman. Repairs and alterations will be nearly impossible. Every time you hang a picture, you’ll damage your ridiculous wooden walls in ways that can’t be fixed. Is it even possible to insulate these monstrosities? I don’t know. But they’re surprisingly popular.

One of the nicest properties has a house which is “stucco over frame.” Is that even a recognized construction medium? I can’t even tell what it is. I guess they put some kind of siding over wooden studs and then slop cement on it.

I don’t know anything about rural property, so I don’t know what pitfalls to look out for. I don’t want a place that floods whenever it rains. I don’t want drainage problems, swamps I’m not allowed to drain, or nuclear waste.

I’ll have to trust God and do my best.

It’s my own fault I’m in Miami. I chose it. I didn’t serve God, and I didn’t have his guidance. There was a period during and after law school when I was reasonably happy here; I deluded myself. If I had listened to God, I would have landed somewhere else a long time ago.

Don’t be like me. If you’re young, start listening now.



February 19th, 2017

Miami is a Disease That Dies Hard

I just got back from Orlando, and already, two Miami imbeciles have practically run me off the road.

I had to sit down and decompress when I got home. I can’t interact with people until I have a candy bar and a few minutes to cope with the grief of returning to this place.

A friend of mine who moved to Orlando renewed his marriage vows, and I was invited. Yesterday I drove up and got a hotel room. I was startled by the traffic on the Ronald Reagan Turnpike (I refuse to call it by its former name). All the way past Palm Beach, it was packed. Things have really changed.

I was disturbed by the way people treated me in Orlando. They were so nice, it made me jumpy. It made me realize something about myself: I’m not just afraid of rejection; I’m afraid of acceptance.

I’m used to avoiding talking to people in Miami, because much of the time, conversations here are hostile or awkward. In Orlando, people forced me to have longer interactions. They held doors for me. The people at McDonald’s gave me helpful tips on prices. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t used to conversations lasting a whole 30 seconds.

When people accept you, you have to come up with something to say to them. I didn’t realize I would have to deal with that.

It’s not a humorous exaggeration when I say I was disturbed by the nice manners I encountered. Here in Miami, when a person tries to strike up a conversation with you, it usually means they want to do something bad to you. In my case, it’s mostly telemarketers and addicts (i.e. “the homeless”). I have become conditioned to cut communications short. I was very grateful for the good treatment I got in Orange County, but it also put me under a very real kind of pressure I was not used to.

When I got to the hotel, I learned that I had come on the wrong day. I had made a computer error. I reserved a room for Friday night, and I showed up on Saturday. My card had already been charged. When the clerk realized what had happened, she got on the computer and worked it out so I got a free room last night. The bill said “0” on it. They didn’t have to do that. The place was packed, due to the arrival of a geriatric biker gang (the Grandparents of Anarchy). They could have charged me or rented the room to someone else who would have paid. I didn’t know what to think.

People made a point of coming up to me and introducing themselves at the wedding, to make sure I wasn’t isolated the whole time.

Over the last month, lots of people have told me how much they hate Miami. I went to Home Depot, and the lady who designs kitchens said she hated Miami. I went to the flea market, and the old guy I bought wrenches from said he wouldn’t live in Miami if they gave it to him. I hired a guy to demolish my dad’s deck, and he said he hated Miami, too. At the wedding, my friend’s uncle said people in Miami seemed like they always wanted to fight.

I felt sadness come over me today when I realized I was nearly in Dade County. It was really happening. I was leaving northern Florida and coming back. It was like getting on a bus leaving San Quentin and then being pulled off by a guard.

I realized how much this rotten city has damaged me emotionally. I’m not cut out for this place. I don’t enjoy fighting with people. I’m not willing to cut a stranger’s throat to get a nicer car. I’m tired of living among atheists and demon worshipers. What other major American city has hundreds of thousands of people who literally practice voodoo? Even New Orleans can’t compete.

Before today, I had never seen myself as a person the city itself had harmed. That was a revelation.

Miami-boosters have no idea what life is supposed to be like. Childishness, racism, and aggression are all they know. It’s a good thing they like it here, because maybe it will make them less likely to invade and ruin other places. Miami has always been flypaper for jerks.

This weekend I had another revelation: Miami people have the Sodom mindset. Sodom and Gomorrah were famous for mistreating strangers. Jewish lore says Abraham’s servant Eliezer went to Sodom, and a man wounded him with a rock. A Sodomite judge told Eliezer he had to pay the man for the beneficial bloodletting. Eliezer wounded the judge and told him to pay the man what he owed Eliezer.

Anyway, people here treat strangers very badly. That’s why road rage is so bad here. People here like to use the word “random” to describe strangers, as if not knowing a person justifies whatever you do to him.

Miami is filling up like a tick, as people from other countries jam it to the rafters. The traffic is terrible, and the crude, congested skyline looks like it was moved here from Brazil. The ironic up side is that the more crowded this place gets, the better off I’ll be in Ocala. I’ll inherit what my dad owns here, and the population increase is raising prices fast. The annoying people I leave behind will, if God permits, provide for my ease in old age.

People who think this is a neat place are like men who have never seen a real woman, whistling at Bruce Jenner and trying to get his phone number. If you don’t know what the real thing is like, you can’t be expected to recognize a fake.

I’m going to bust my hump getting out of here. If I have to get in the car three or four times a year and drive down here to manage my dad’s real estate, that’s fine. That is a small price to pay. The hotel bills will be deductible.

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With Enemies Like Trump’s, Who Needs Friends?

February 17th, 2017

Bad Day for Press Elites

Yesterday I had one of the strangest experiences of my life. I saw a president who had absolutely no fear of the press.

President Trump had a press conference, and he was so honest about the deceitfulness and malice of the press, the news has reverberated all over the Internet.

I hadn’t been following things all that closely. I had been seeing and hearing little bits of information suggesting Trump was panicked, frustrated, exhausted, and furious. When I saw him speaking, I saw something completely different. He was happy. He was smiling. He was confident. He never raised his voice. He said very critical things about the press, but he wasn’t emotional about it at all.

Critics are making utter fools of themselves as they trample each other trying to spin the conference. Trump gutted them, so they’re toiling away, trying to stanch the bleeding with a transparent gauze of lies and insinuations.

One major paper (member of an endangered species) criticized Trump for saying the press would spin things and accuse him of “ranting and raving.” That same article had a headline that used the word “rant”! How biased can you be? How blind can you be to your own dissembling?

The reporters in the press pool were livid. Their anger, and the sense that they were being thrashed, was obvious on their faces. They were combative. They kept firing jabs that had nothing to do with learning the truth and everything to do with trying to find a hole in Trump’s defenses. Trump kept turning these jabs around on them, making them wish they had never spoken. It was as if they were punching themselves in the face.

Their emotionalism was exactly what they falsely attributed to Trump.

“Journalists” are describing him as angry and frustrated. They’re saying he was unhappy. What a lie! They’re also complaining that the conference ran 77 minutes. It ran long because Trump was having fun. Watch it for yourself. Presidents who are uncomfortable do not prolong press conferences. Trump was having a ball.

One outlet said Trump “imploded.” Again, watch the conference. He couldn’t have been happier at his own birthday party, and he scored point after point while they kept missing the pinata.

Actually, it was more like they were hitting the pinata, but when struck, instead of raining candy and free prophylactics, it rained manure.

One sucker was dumb enough to suggest Trump’s willingness to respond to press aggression was an attack on the First Amendment. Good Lord. How can expressing yourself freely be a threat to free expression? Who thinks like that?

What he really meant was, “I hate it when people hit back.”

When Trump decided to run, I thought it was a stunt. I said he didn’t want to be President. I said he just wanted free publicity. I didn’t think he was a real conservative (I still doubt that).

When he got the nomination, I consoled myself with the knowledge that he would fight illegal immigration and appoint solid judges. I figured that was the best I could hope for. And he wasn’t Hillary. That’s a major point in his favor.

Now that he’s president, I’m more impressed with him than I ever expected to be. If you look at what he’s doing, and you pay no attention to gossip and slander, you can see that he’s an extremely dynamic and capable president. Maybe some of his policies are wrong, and he does need to shut up on Twitter, but this is a man who took a $1 million loan, multiplied it by 9,000, and paid it back.

Try that for yourself. If you have $10,000 in the bank, see if you can die worth $90 million. Trump didn’t have his fortune handed to him by his parents, the government or a lucky break with a tech startup. He’s not a Rockefeller, a Perot, or a Zuckerberg. He had to beat thousands of highly competent, dishonest, ruthless individuals. We should have realized he would be a dynamo in the Oval Office. Now, instead of competing with real estate investors and hoteliers, he’ll be using the same exceptional skills to defeat world leaders who are hostile to our interests. Think about that. I guarantee you, investors are harder to defeat than politicians.

Whatever he does, right or wrong, he will be extremely effective and fearless. What other president compares? Obama was a limp dishrag and career bagman who avoided responsibility and obeyed his handlers. Bush II bent over backwards not to offend. Clinton was an unprincipled mouthpiece for special interests. Bush I was weak and too eager to please, and in all likelihood, he’s really a liberal who was forced to run as a conservative. You have to look back to Reagan to come up with anyone who was even close to Trump in his willingness to act independently, without apology.

Trump didn’t really talk to the press at his conference. He talked to the public, and he worked to provoke and expose the press. The press room was a courtroom, and although he was supposed to be the defendant, he was the prosecutor. It was brilliant. The networks donated 77 minutes to him, and he used it to strip them naked and horsewhip them in front of America. That’s how he got elected, so we shouldn’t be surprised. No one in history can match Trump’s ability to get his enemies to give him free promotion.

Look at the “lies” the press is accusing him of telling at the conference. He said he had the biggest electoral college landslide since Reagan, and he was wrong. Who cares? Are we ever going to have a depression or a war because the president doesn’t know who got the biggest electoral landslide? He said the Ninth Circuit, a notoriously incompetent and biased panel, was ‘in turmoil” and he guessed it had a reversal rate of 80%. He admitted he wasn’t sure of the figure, and the press ignored that. “AHA!”, shrieked the press; the actual rate is 79%! And other circuits have high reversal rates, too. Wow. That’s important. Because when Trump makes trade deals, protects our borders, and runs the military, it’s crucial that he knows circuit court reversal rates, to the exact percentage point.

The insignificance of the misdeeds a man’s enemies attribute to him is a monument to his character and achievements. When the press gets excited about electoral college vote figures, you know they’re scraping the bottom of a very tired barrel.

I can’t get over it. I expected much less from him.

His critics will probably never give up, even when they realize they’re ruining their own reputations. If the country does well under Trump, they will look like complete morons. They’re so emotional and deluded by passion, they can’t see that they’re undermining themselves.

It reminds me of a story my dad used to tell. A union of Basques in Spain went on strike against a firearms factory. One day someone came to them and told them the strike had destroyed the company and all of their jobs. They held a massive victory celebration.

Man, this is strange. I don’t know what to make of it. It has to be the supernatural at work. God must be giving Trump favor, in spite of his faults, in order to help God’s people prepare for the harder times ahead.

It’s sad to see conservative Trump-haters clinging to their bitterness and rage. Fine; Trump may not be a real conservative. He’s an adulterer. He’s arrogant. Whatever. He’s still on our side, and he will definitely be our candidate in 2020, so unless you’re so childish you would rather have Governor Moonbeam or Al Franken, you better change your diapers and work with what we have.

One neat thing about Trump is that he exposed the Deep State, which is the throng of mostly-liberal career bureaucrats who run our executive agencies. Presidents come and go, but like J. Edgar Hoover, Deep Staters stay at their little desks and become permanent fixtures with immense power to blackmail and obstruct. Trump offended these people, so now they’re emerging from the cover of their holes to attack him. Suddenly the public knows they exist, and that they’re extremely dangerous. They’re like the palace eunuchs in imperial China.

Bureaucrats don’t care at all about the countries they supposedly serve. They care about their tiny empires. They worship the idol of job security. Most people don’t understand that. Trump is giving us a real education.

Chuck Schumer is afraid of the Deep State. He said the intelligence bureaucrats have “six ways from Sunday” to get even with people. Now we’re seeing that this is true. They and the other Deep Staters are actually leaking classified conversations, not to help America, but to take down the person who trained a spotlight on them.

Imagine voting for Chuck Schumer for president. “Elect me. I’m terrified of the FBI.”

One has to wonder what the administration will be like when it’s more than three weeks old. That’s how far in we are, and liberals and anti-Trump conservative crybabies are already saying the administration is a failure. By the end of this year, a whole lot of Trump enemies will have been fired, and some may be under federal criminal indictment. What will the battlefield look like when Trump’s treasonous soldiers aren’t fragging him ten times a day out of pure spite?

I would have been thrilled with any of a number of conservative candidates. I would even have accepted Bush, but he was unelectable because of his name. I voted for Cruz in the primary, but I would have been okay with Paul, Perry, Rubio, Carson, Hunter, Palin, Brownback…maybe even Christie. I didn’t want Trump. But now that he’s here, I will be honest about his good points and his successes, especially when they’re shocking and unprecedented.

If you really care about America–more than you care about being vindicated in your criticism of Trump–pray God guides him and gives him success, and that God drives off the ungodly people around him. Seeing America collapse prematurely may be an alluring notion to you now, but you won’t enjoy it if it actually happens. Trump is a barrier between us and the people who will eventually start murdering us in the streets. Call me crazy, but I want to keep that barrier strong.


Drowning in Choices

February 14th, 2017

As Problems Go, This is a Nice One

I’m writing because some websites are failing to load for me. I figure they’ll probably kick in just as I start getting interested in this blog post.

I’m trying to look at Marion County properties a realtor emailed me. Before I contacted a realtor, I went to Zillow and other sites and found a few properties worth saving. Now I have a bunch of new ones to look at. You would think an Internet search would turn up everything worth looking at, but the realtor found a lot of fantastic stuff that didn’t appear on Zillow.

It looks like the hard part will be narrowing the choices down. I’m overwhelmed. These places are so beautiful, I can’t believe I could end up living in one of them.

For some reason, the prices of properties don’t seem strongly related to the acreage. A place with 10 acres will not necessarily cost much less than one with 31 acres. Obviously, this means I’m excited about the big places. With 10 acres, shooting in my yard could conceivably annoy neighbors. If I get 31, as far as I’m concerned, they can put their complaints in a sock, because I will be way too far away for anyone to have a legitimate gripe.

Why do people live in Dade County (now named Miami-Dade because Spanish-speaking foreigners can’t figure out that “Dade” means “Miami”)? The lots are small. The traffic is starting to rival Hong Kong’s. The people are very, very rude. You have to repeat yourself over and over when you buy things, because half of the population can’t understand English. If everyone here were getting rich, I would understand the draw, but Miami is a poor city. I guess the allure is the knowledge that you can move here, refuse to learn English, and do okay.

There are a lot of variables to look at when I go through these properties. I want reasonably good soil so I can grow food when America finally collapses, so I am looking at the photos and trying to weed out the places that are all pine and no hardwood. I don’t want too much horse stuff. Supposedly, keeping one small barn on a property will bring some sort of tax advantage, but some of these places have tracks and 5000 square feet of stalls.

The north part of the county might be better for my dad, since he will need to be reasonably near good medical care (i.e. Gainesville).

The thought of having a workshop I can roller skate in is intoxicating. I watch other people’s Youtube videos, and some of their shops are nearly empty. It makes me want to jump through the screen and lie down on the cool, satisfying concrete. I can’t imagine what it’s like to have that kind of space. Some of the places in Marion County appear to have shops as large as 2000 square feet. I would never, ever leave. I would move the bed into the shop.

Now that I think about it, I’m not sure what I need a house for. Oh, yeah. Now I remember. My dad will want a place to sleep.

You know what’s really exciting? We could conceivably have a tractor. A man with a tractor is a man to be reckoned with. In addition to chores like bush-hogging (boring!), you can use a tractor to move machinery, do light earth-moving jobs, and generally wreak havoc. I don’t know if I would actually use one. I might just go out into the shop and hold it, like a Hillary voter holding a rented puppy.

I always say I have no ambition. Now that has changed. My ambition is to move to a rental property, screw around with my tools, have all sorts of prayer meetings, get old, and die. Judging from what I’ve learned so far, when I get up there, I may have a lot of competitors in these pursuits.

This morning I read something from 2 Peter:

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority.

Reading that made me very emotional. To think that God might get me out of here and put me among better people…that is true generosity.

Lot lived in Sodom, and God called him righteous. If you read about Lot, though, you will see that he wasn’t what we would call a saint. He wasn’t on the same level as Abraham. Lot’s deliverance shows that God will help people who fail a lot. That tells me he is willing to help me.

I can’t go back and rejoin the crazy, ungodly world. Life has gotten truly insane. If you’re any kind of a Christian, you now have a target on your back. People will do their best to take away your livelihood and blackball you so you can’t get hired or own a business anywhere. You can’t even have a bakery, because vicious people who don’t really want your cakes will come to you and order wedding spreads just to get you put out of business.

Our culture has gone nuts. This week a female performer named Beyonce (you probably know who she is) did a dance number for the Grammys in which she dressed up as a voodoo “goddess,” put a halo on her head, and had other dancers worship her. She threw in elements of the Hindu “god” Shiva. People lapped it up. If you criticize her on Facebook, her warped fans (the “Beehive”) will come after you and heap abuse on you.

A few years back, Madonna did a similar act in which dancers dressed as demons worshiped her.

Americans see nothing wrong with things like this now. Satan is officially mainstream. People think it’s cute. They don’t realize these “gods” represent real spirits that hate Yahweh.

We’re so filthy now, and so proud, most of us are beyond God’s reach. Persecution will now increase, and it won’t be that long before the state treats us the way Nazi Germany treated Jews. If you think it can’t happen here, wake up. The Germans and Austrians were more civilized and orderly than we are now, and they built the death camp ovens.

I can’t go back. I can’t give up what I have. I can never rejoin the devil’s system, so I will always be faced with bitter, cruel opposition. Unless God wants me to live in complete subjugation and misery, he will have to provide a way out, and I think that’s what he’s doing.

The sites loaded, and I went over the properties and made notes.

You can get more property for your money when you move away from Ocala and Gainesville, but then you have to think about the aggravation of driving half an hour to get to Lowe’s or the nearest hospital. Also, my dad likes to have lunch in restaurants. I just looked at a place called Williston, and it appears that the choices are basically fast food, two BBQ joints that get dubious reviews, and diners.

On the whole, a restaurant shortage in a wonderful place is a much better problem to have than being stuck in a rude, crowded city and having restaurants that are sort of okay.

I really want to go lie down on a concrete shop floor. Like, now.

If I ever manage to choose a place, you will read about it here.


One More Thing Lawyers Have Ruined

February 10th, 2017

The Grand Tour Fails to Reach its Potential

It’s funny how you can sometimes detect the activity of lawyers without being told they’re at work.

I’ll give some examples.

I have bought key lime juice. There are two brands available where I live. One is labeled “Mrs. Biddle’s Key Lime Juice.” The other is labeled “Key West Lime Juice.” Why? Obviously, the second one isn’t made from key limes. If it were, they would use the phrase “key lime juice” on the label. In order to get around the illegality of selling Persian lime juice as key lime juice, they invoke the name of Key West, which has nothing to do with lime varieties.

Here’s another one. Have you ever bought a junk food item with a label that says it contains “creme”? It said that because it didn’t contain cream. “Creme” doesn’t mean anything. It could be lithium grease. Real cream comes from a cow and costs a lot of money.

I’ve watched all of the episodes of Amazon’s The Grand Tour, and I see lawyer footprints all over it.

First of all, no Stig. The BBC owns the Stig (perhaps literally). Amazon found a legal way to replace his vibe on the show. They hired an American driver named Mike Skinner, and they call him “The American.” He’s not as good as the Stig, because the writers who write his material aren’t good, but if he had better lines, he would be a fine replacement.

He has a lot of potential. The constant jokes about him being American could be funny. Problem is, they’re very weak. Maybe bad British writers are to blame. Someone who actually understood American Southerners could write very funny stuff for Skinner.

Second thing…no celebrities. This is a major problem. I suppose it’s possible celebrities are boycotting the show because of the odor of racism, but I doubt that, because they do appear in short, generally silent cameos in which they die horribly. They don’t give interviews or drive laps.

Somehow, lawyers have interfered with the practice of putting celebrities on the show. I don’t know what the issue is. One would think that it would be impossible to protect the concept of interviewing celebrities about cars, but the BBC must have found a way, because there is no other plausible explanation for cutting out a huge part of the fun of the show.

Instead of stars in a reasonably priced car, the show has a feature called Celebrity Brain Crash. It’s supposed to be a quiz, but the gimmick is that every celebrity is killed while making his or her way to the studio. It was funny the first two times, but now it’s annoying, and surely Amazon knows that and wants to fix it. Because they never did, lawyers must be getting in the way.

I guess it’s possible that the creators of the show are just incompetent, but how could anyone be that bad at his job? It’s the kind of decision a producer would make if someone were secretly paying him to fail.

I like the show, and I’ll keep watching it, but it’s in danger of turning into the American Top Gear, which was terrible because it had no celebrities and a hosting team headed by a hipster sissy.

Overall, the show is pretty good, but not quite as good as the original. The writing is weaker; that’s the main issue. Bezos needs to hire some people from Top Gear or some top sitcoms. Male Republicans, if possible. Whether Bezos wants to admit it or not, 90% of the fun of Top Gear was the persistent lambasting of political correctness.

No one really cares whether the Porsche 918 is as fast as the Ferrari Enzo. People want to see the boys make fools of themselves, and they want to see them have interesting interviews with famous people.

A reviewer from The Guardian says people don’t like the “scriptedness” of the new show. He’s right. With the old show, it was always nearly possible to make yourself believe the things you saw on screen were simply things that had happened on their own. With the new show, the action is about as spontaneous as The A-Team. The Grand Tour punches you in the face with its artificiality.

Maybe they need to hire Ted Nugent. That would help.

The Grand Tour doesn’t have a home city. They have a tent they fly around the globe, and they put it in a new place almost every week. Fun idea, but you have to wonder if the work and expense of moving around makes it hard to keep a good staff together and get things done. Here’s something strange: the show doesn’t make much use of its locations. If they were to put the tent in the Bahamas, they might very well film most of the show in Egypt. If you’re not going to use the location, why go there?

One of their locations disturbed me pretty badly. They went to Scotland. Most of my ancestors were Scottish. When they stood in front of the studio audience (tent audience?), I noticed that there wasn’t a single good-looking person in the crowd. I’ll be honest; they looked WRONG. Like someone had hushed up a radiation accident in the 1970’s. Their Dutch audience looked way better. Maybe I need a gene transplant.

If I were running the show, I would find a way to get some celebrities to talk to. I would also beat the writers with a stick and hire some new ones. After that, I’d find a studio in England and stay there. What they’re doing now is like moving a tomato plant from one pot to another every week and expecting it to grow.

It’s still better than the BBC’s offering.

I have to wonder if the hype about Amazon’s giant budget is true. The Grand Tour looks like it costs a lot less than the old show. The projects are much less ambitious.

Top Gear itself is returning soon, with Matt LeBlanc still in charge. Unfortunately, his ineffective co-host Chris Evans will be replaced by the soon-to-be-proven-equally-ineffective Rory Reid and Chris Harris. These guys are not even a little bit funny, and Top Gear is a comedy show. No one at the BBC seems to understand that. They think it’s about cars!

I plan to watch the new season. I’ll do what I did last time around. When LeBlanc or the Stig is on the screen, I’ll watch. I’ll fast-forward past the plastic twins. I should be able to get through an episode in 15 minutes.


Adios, Al Fin

February 9th, 2017

Talk to my Taillights

This is a momentous day, or rather, yesterday was. I was working on the problem of leaving Miami, and I realized there was no point in limiting myself to South Florida. Things have worked out so that I will be able to go where I really want to go, farther up the state.

Four years ago, I decided to leave this area, and I went to Ocala and looked at houses. My father was extremely disturbed by this, and I agreed to linger here while he got his affairs in order, with the understanding that we would both leave eventually. Finally, things are more or less organized, and I have realized I can manage his properties just as well from Ocala as I can from places closer to Miami.

It’s funny, but when you’re used to certain problems and certain options, you may not be aware of it when your options change. You have to sit down and reassess things. Sometimes you will think you’re still trapped when the cage door is actually open.

I was looking at properties in Broward County, which is where Fort Lauderdale is. To the west of the city, there are semi-rural neighborhoods where you can cover your lawn with Trump signs without having your house egged. It’s a nice area; no doubt about it. Still, the good houses are already taken, and if you want two acres (the minimum amount of land required to maintain sanity), you will pay out the nose. Also, Broward is 28% Hispanic.

Am I saying I don’t want to live around Hispanics? Not exactly. I’m saying I don’t want to live in a foreign country, which is what Miami is. This county is about 65% Hispanic, and that doesn’t include illegals and tourists. When you go to a mall, you can expect the people around you, most of whom were born in America, to speak Spanish to each other and the clerks maybe 75% of the time. That gets old.

I actually lived in a foreign country where I heard English spoken more often. I spent four months in Israel, and virtually everyone spoke English.

When you turn on the radio here, you may try five stations before you hear anything but Spanish.

If you think wanting to live in an English-speaking country makes me a bad person, wait till you read this: I am also tired of Hispanic culture.

Here in Miami, people talk really loud, all the time, and when they sit in groups, everyone talks at once. People are angry maybe 60% of the time, for no reason at all. People are very aggressive; I think that’s a Cuban thing, not a Hispanic thing. Other Hispanics are less confrontational. Anyway, people here are extremely emotional, and they have no respect for rules (even good ones). It had probably been forty years since Castro’s victory when Miami Cubans learned it was not okay to walk straight to the head of lines in stores and restaurants.

In Miami, one has the persistent sense of being threatened. Everyone wants to deny you the right of way in traffic. Everyone wants to get in front of you and get to whatever it is you want before you do. Everyone wants to get over on you in business. People tailgate and drive with their high beams on. People talk in front of you in Spanish so they can take advantage of you (pretty funny when they do it to Cubans who don’t look Cuban). It makes you feel like you’re Captain Kirk and you can never lower the deflector shields.

I know a Cuban lady who demanded a transfer out of Miami because she couldn’t stand the way people treated her American husband. She told me horror stories. They would be waiting in a restaurant, and the people who worked there would talk to Cuban customers, calling her husband dirty names and saying they would make him wait while the Cubans got tables. They didn’t know she understood.

It’s not like every American is treated badly all the time. Many, many Hispanics treat us very well. There are hundreds of thousands of wonderful Hispanic people here. But it doesn’t take many bad apples to ruin things, and it’s difficult for a person who has lived among nice people and knows how much better life is supposed to be.

People here hate it when you criticize Miami. They love it because they have never been anywhere else in America, and because most of them are in the top caste. If you’re Hispanic, life is good here. Everyone speaks your language, you have big advantages in business, and people will treat you better than they treat Americans (especially black Americans). If you’re Cuban and you grew up here, no wonder you think it’s paradise. You’re like a Brahmin in India. You don’t know what it’s like to be blackballed.

I have a black friend who moved to Orlando. He’s a hard-working man who is doing a terrific job supporting five great kids. He doesn’t speak Spanish. He applied for 27 jobs here and got no calls. He applied for three in Orlando and got three offers. His wife, who speaks only English and Creole, got a good job, too. Hello? Can anyone guess the reason?

My friend says he absolutely hates to visit Miami. It depresses him and makes him angry. He and his family are thrilled with Orlando, even after two years of getting used to it.

Broward County is 28% Hispanic (and that figure is increasing fast), but up around Ocala, the percentage is more like 8%. That means everyone has to learn English and make an effort to fit in with the existing culture. I’ll take that.

My dad has dementia, and it won’t be long before he will need a place to go every day to be with other people his age. In Miami, he would be surrounded by old people he couldn’t talk to. They would talk to each other all day in Spanish, and then once in a while they would talk to him in English. That’s no good. I always say no one wants to get old in Miami.

I looked at properties on the Internet, and I was dazzled. I got brave, and I removed the “2 acres+” filter from my searches. I changed it to 5 acres. Then 10. Then I went nuts and changed it to 20. I found a place with 56 acres. I found one with 107 acres.

I found houses that had magnificent outbuildings built to be workshops. You know why? Because people up there are like me! Oh, my God. It was too good to be true. One place had several welding stations, 200-amp service, and a lift. It even had a bunker with a steel door. It’s like I dreamed that place. All it needs is a machine gun nest.

That was a joke…or was it?

Yes, it was a joke. Calm down, DHS.

Of course, if it wasn’t a joke, I would definitely pretend it was a joke in order to fool people. Just saying.

I’ll finally be able to practice shooting in my own yard. I’ll be able to practice correctly. No slow fire. Think how good I’ll be. I will be positively dangerous.

My new mission in life is to get my dad’s house ready so he can rent it out after the move. I am doing that as quickly as I can. I would like to fix it up so he can charge a lot, but he is resisting moving out until it’s done, which makes the whole process much harder. My current strategy is to get it done, quick and dirty, and get the hell out. If he has to charge 30% less, well, life will go on.

I gave up on local contractors. I went to Home Depot and told them, essentially, “Give my dad a new kitchen right now.” They’re coming in the next few days. I’m going to have his rotten deck pulled out. I’m not going to worry about the terrible 1950’s windows or the 9000 other problems that will take too long to fix. Once we’re gone, maybe I can do more.

Why is all this happening so fast? I can answer that. A stronghold is being broken. I chose to live in this rotten city, and I chose to rebel and do my own thing, so God required me to have my nose rubbed in this place. I’ve turned back to him, and he has restored things in my life one by one, on his own schedule. I have started apologizing to him for choosing Miami. Now things are breaking loose.

One of the neat things about God is that he may be very quick to break a stronghold that looks like it will last forever. That’s important to know, especially for people like convicts who think they will never be free from the consequences of their actions. God gave birth to Israel in one day. He shook a prison and freed Paul and Silas. He still does things like that.

I can’t wait to leave this area. I won’t miss one thing about it. Not for one second. I will never come back without a compelling reason.

Won’t I miss the culture of a big city? Excuse me while I laugh. Miami has no culture at all, unless you count the new rap culture of Miami Beach, which is now the top vacation destination for ghetto thugs. There is no real orchestra here. There is no classical station. There is virtually no jazz. The museums are hilarious. There is no architecture, unless you count a few cheesy Art Deco hotels. No, I don’t think I’ll miss that.

I definitely won’t miss the gay scene. I wonder what life is like on South Beach now that it’s an uncomfortable mixture of gays and rap fans. I know everyone is complaining, and charges of racism are flying around.

It’s not about race. It’s about shootings, beatings, noise, property damage, intimidation, and theft. It’s about scared Europeans who spend more money, who go someplace else now.

Why am I writing about this? Not my problem.

If you want to be helpful, do me a favor and pray God will help me get all this done, and that he will guide us to a peaceful home. I would appreciate that.

Now I have to call a guy to rip out the deck.


I arranged for a demolition guy to remove my dad’s deck, so I feel pretty good about that. I felt like expounding on my remarks about Miami culture, so here I am

God has helped me to turn my back on my own culture. I used to be proud of my Eastern Kentucky heritage, for some reason I no longer recall. Now I realize Eastern Kentucky is full of racism, alcoholism, ignorance, violence, and God knows what else. It’s a white ghetto. It keeps getting worse because people who have a better mindset keep leaving.

Eastern Kentucky is not going to get better. Lyndon Johnson’s vote-buying money didn’t fix it, missionaries didn’t fix it, and if Trump takes a shot at it, he won’t fix it, either. People up there cause their problems, and every day, they choose to cling to ways that keep their problems in place. I am not stupid enough to worry about people who don’t care about themselves.

A side effect of my sudden willingness to criticize my own culture is a willingness to criticize other cultures. Miami is very messed up, and I am trying to be honest about it. I may sound harsh or even bigoted, but when something is messed up, and you speak the truth about it, you aren’t going to say positive things.

To show that I’m not always negative about other cultures, I will also say that I now think certain American cultures are superior to my own. On the whole, I think people in the middle of the country, in places like Iowa, Nebraska, and the Dakotas, are the least dysfunctional. I think their culture is flat-out superior to Appalachian culture and Southern culture as a whole.

People in the heartland commit less crime, and they generally treat each other better. They may not be the most exciting people on earth, but on the other hand, they cause less trouble than the rest of us, and they haven’t completely lost their humanity, even in polarized 2017.

A bigot thinks his culture is the best in the world. That’s not me.

Southern culture, like the culture in Ocala, isn’t the absolute best, but it’s pretty good, and it’s a thousand percent better than what we have in South Florida.

A wise person doesn’t cling to backward ways out of pride. I would like to be wise eventually.

If I offended anyone, well, I don’t apologize. Wronging someone and offending them are two different things.


How I Saved $50,000 in Six Months

February 7th, 2017

You Can Read Books Without Paying a Hippy

I’m waiting for a friend to come by and pick up some stuff he left here, so I’ll write.

I’m having an excellent day. The reason is simple: my head doesn’t hurt. I got a cold about 2-1/2 weeks ago, and while the main symptoms are long gone, I just went through a 2-day period during which my head felt like it was in a vise. Some sort of lingering sinus thing. It’s gone now, so I am very happy indeed.

The headache killed whatever enthusiasm I had for doing things, so Sunday and Monday were pretty useless. Sinus pain is a huge hindrance when you’re trying to read, so my efforts to complete the Columbia College Lit. Hum. reading were even more painful than usual.

Man, I am sorry I ever thought about taking liberal arts courses. I don’t know why I ever believed I enjoyed literature. Maybe it was because I was too lazy to do my math and science homework. Courses involving literature are simply too easy to do badly in, so I must have gotten the idea that my good grades in writing and literature courses meant that I should stay in that area of learning.

I made some effort to get away from the easy and useless subjects back when I was young. I became a biology major. But I was too screwed up to pull it off. My family drove me nuts every day, from over a thousand miles away, and I spent most of my time trying not to want to die. Aptitude notwithstanding, I did poorly and dropped out.

Once this self-imposed torture is over, there is no way I’ll ever read another boring work of fiction. If I look at literature at all, it will be entertaining stuff like Shakespeare and Voltaire. Or Philip K. Dick. I think you have to be mentally ill to read Homer or Cervantes for pleasure.

I feel sorry for the technically inclined Columbia students who still have to read this mess. Back when tuition cost $50 per semester, it was okay to indulge the pathetic fantasy that you could turn street kids from Brooklyn into poets and classicists. Now that it costs hundreds of thousands of dollars to put kids through C.U., forcing engineers and scientists to take classes that won’t help them in their careers is a form of extortion.

You know what? If you haven’t taken calculus and university (calculus-based) physics, you’re very ignorant about science. Your scientific ignorance is much worse than the cultural ignorance of a person who hasn’t read Cervantes. Why doesn’t Columbia force the basket-weavers to take these courses?

Liberal arts bias, that’s why. And most of the literature and history professors would flunk physics. It would be embarrassing to make students take courses their professors could never pass.

The more expensive and time-consuming education gets, the less justification there is for library-card courses. By that I mean material you can absorb perfectly well by reading free books from your local library. If you seriously think you can’t understand Dickens without listening to a long-winded socialist draft-dodger with weed on his breath, you’re badly mistaken.

It’s wonderful not to have an oppressive, endless sinus headache. I feel positively dynamic today, as if I had received a blood transfusion from Donald Trump.

Maybe I’ll get something done! It could happen.

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Steven Seagal is a Hero

February 6th, 2017

Don Quixote is Just a Psychopath

I’m sitting here trying to find the gumption to continue reading Don Quixote. No wonder I skipped so much of the reading when I was in college. I feel like I’m getting psyched up for a colonoscopy.

In an earlier post I quoted the author Vladimir Nabokov, who said a bunch of flattering and patently inaccurate things about Don Quixote. For one thing, he called the protagonist “gentle,” which is like calling Richard Speck gentle.

Here’s something weird: Cervantes fan-niños can be found on the web excoriating Nabokov for criticizing Cervantes. Nabokov called Cervantes’ work “crude and cruel.”

I wonder what the truth is. Was Nabokov pro- or anti-?

I have to go with the critical Nabokov. Don Quixote is remarkably free of any type of compassion. When DQ breaks an innocent man’s leg, it’s a trifle. It’s supposed to be funny. Cervantes himself calls a hunchbacked, one-eyed girl who has done nothing wrong “this engaging creature” (en Español). When DQ gets impatient with Sancho Panza, whom he considers a friend, he beats him with his lance, and we’re supposed to go on liking DQ.

I’m thinking Cervantes may have been a sociopath. He may have been unable to feel love or pity, so he may not have realized it when he crossed the line.

To push the notion even further, I think this book may be a good litmus test for sociopathy. If you really enjoy it, and the cruelty doesn’t wear you down, you have an issue. Some essential pieces of your heart are missing. You would probably enjoy a GWAR concert.

One of the rules of fiction is that if you want to put suffering in your work, and you don’t want the reader to sympathize, you should make the characters who suffer look like they deserve it. You can see this rule at work in any Steven Seagal movie. Steven Seagal can’t just march onto the set and start snapping people’s arms backward at the elbow and setting them on fire. Maybe it was hard for his directors to make him understand that, but it’s true. If he wants the audience to root for him, the people he hurts have to be set up in advance. They have to put him in a coma and shoot his partner. Something like that.

If Cervantes had written a Steven Seagal movie, it would have started like this: Steven Seagal is lying in bed with his really good-looking wife. They smile and cuddle. Then he shoves a bayonet through her throat and says something snotty while she dies. No, no, no. That doesn’t work. You have to lay some sort of John Wick-style groundwork. Stomp on a puppy. Steal Keanu’s Mustang.

Maybe the people who defend Cervantes are cruel and underdeveloped. Cervantes can’t see his own problem, and neither can they, because they’re just like him.

Just spitballing here.

What time is it? About 1:30? This isn’t working. I haven’t killed enough time. I still have time to sit down and read. Man.

I saw some foolish person claiming Nabokov was worse than Cervantes, because Humbert Humbert, the main character in Lolita, was a sexual predator who went after a young girl. What a stretch. You’re not supposed to like Humbert Humbert! Hello? It’s okay if a villain does bad things. Obvious, right?

I plan to gag my way through at least 30 pages today. I’m glad the copy I bought was cheap. I would hate to spend more than ten bucks on an experience like this.

It’s 1:34. I guess I better get to work.


Chivalry Isn’t Dead

February 5th, 2017

It’s Just Nauseous

Update on my progress through Don Quixote: today I made it to page 206, and I thought I could force myself to go all the way to the start of a horrible verse on the bottom of the page. No dice. After a few sentences, I realized I could not face another line. It’s as if my mind threw up.

Back to work tomorrow, I guess.

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Lord of the Fleas

February 5th, 2017

Plus Metrosexual Abuse

Sometimes I don’t know what to make of the Internet. It’s tempting to think of it as a reliable repository containing every type of knowledge you could hope to uncover, but the cruel truth is that it fails a lot.

Yesterday I visited the Florida Swap Shop to see if I could find a few cheap old wrenches to cut up and use for welding projects. I bought three, and I also bought two small adjustable (“crescent”) wrenches made by Williams. This company has made a lot of excellent stuff, and I was able to get a 6″ wrench and an 8″ wrench for eight bucks. They’re not in mint condition, but they work fine, and a new 6″ SK wrench costs about $22.

I cleaned the Williams wrenches up and did a minor repair on the bigger one. When I bought it, I didn’t notice that the jaws didn’t close all the way. At home, I took it apart (screw on the side of the wrench) and cleaned it up, but it still wouldn’t close. I finally realized the moving jaw could not slide out of the body all the way (necessary when it closes) because some ape had used the wrench to tap something. Hammer, wrench…what’s the difference?

The metal where the jaw slid out of the body was slightly deformed. I jabbed it with a file a few times, and now the wrench closes.

If you’ge Googling for information because you need help with ADJUSTABLE CRESCENT WRENCH THAT WON’T CLOSE, now you know what to do. Don’t lose the tiny spring that holds the knurled adjustment worm in place.

To get back to the issue that drove me to write today, the Williams wrenches had some kind of greasy black grit (or gritty black grease) on them. I’m sure you’ve seen this stuff. It magically appears on all old tools and in the bottoms of all old toolboxes. I had some success removing it with my amazing shower concoction (water, no-scrub cleaner, Dawn, and dishwasher rinse aid), but I couldn’t get all of it off.

That stuff works wonders on aluminum wheels. Ask my friend Mike, who used my last batch to clean the crud off the wheels of the Explorer I sold him. Without asking my permission.

I Googled today, and I saw a list of offerings. Which site was most likely to be right? People who write things on the Internet are usually ignorant; they just write for the purpose of filling websites. I wanted good information.

I chose Popular Mechanics, even though I knew better. There was a page about restoring rusty tools. The wrenches I’m working on aren’t rusty, but I figured black mystery crud might be covered as well.

Guess what Popular Mechanics says about removing rust? You soak your tools in vinegar and then scrape the rust off by hand. Are you kidding me?

I don’t like Popular Mechanics. I had a subscription, and I canceled. My take was that it was written by poser sissies who knew nothing about tools. It was full of useless articles about overly diverse-looking millennials who had tech startups (Wow! She’s a woman! And she’s Asian!). It also contained lots of material which appeared to be favorable press given in exchange for free tools. When a story features flattering photos of a new tool, plus gushing prose and a link to a website, hey…it’s an ad.

In the old days, Popular Mechanics was written by guys who still had the blood of dead Japanese soldiers behind their cauliflower ears. The target audience was actual men who had Vitalis in their short hair and surplus lathes in their garages. The magazine was full of useful stuff. Now, it’s useless. I mean, Glenn Reynolds writes for it. Come on.

Here’s how you take rust off of tools. You put them in a plastic bucket with a solution of water and baking soda or washing soda. You attach the negative clamps of battery chargers to them. You attach the positive clamps to submerged scrap iron. Then you wait. Every last particle of rust comes off, along with paint and everything else, if you wait long enough. You will end up with tools that are nothing but ferrous metal. It’s great. How can a magazine dedicated to tools recommend vinegar?

At least it wasn’t balsamic.

Another option: products made with phosphoric acid, such as Ospho or naval jelly. Apply. Wait. Rinse. Phosphoric acid loves rust and hates iron. It works.

I don’t know if pressure cleaners remove rust, but I’ll bet they do.

When you use abrasives to remove rust, as the magazine recommends, you take off sound metal. You’re not restoring. You’re altering. It’s much nicer when you can avoid removing steel.

I can just picture the Popular Mechanics writer, with his skinny jeans, Smith Brothers beard, creepy glasses, and punch-me cardigan, trying to use a Sonicare to remove rust from a pink-handled hammer without getting too dirty. They need to put him to work in a waxing salon.

If you want advice on tools, join a forum frequented by old machinists and woodworkers with missing fingers. They know what works.

Here’s the secret password: “Kroil.” If they don’t know what it is, you’re on the wrong forum.

Maybe instead of being disappointed, I should be glad I know more than Popular Mechanics.

I still don’t know the best way to get the black stuff off of tools. Maybe a good soak in gasoline, at least 20 feet from the house. I don’t have a parts washer.

Having visited flea markets exactly twice in the last 25 years, I am now an expert, so I will give you my take, which cannot be questioned. They work for three kinds of people.

1. People who know exactly what they want and what it’s worth.
2. People who like buying useless crap just to have a good time.
3. Poor people.

If you lack funds, a flea market can set you up with acceptable goods, cheap. If you’re a young man, and you need to put together a tool collection, flea markets are where you should be. Look at what I got. Two wrenches for eight dollars instead of fifty. You can also get well-made old furniture which is just beaten-up enough to look sort of chic in a college apartment. It will work better than Ikea crap, and you will be able to resell it for about what you paid.

Flea markets are also good for tool people who care more about how tools work than how they look. Me, I have a weakness for the shiny and clean, so I haven’t bought as many old tools as I should have, but I could have loaded up on quality wrenches and pliers for a hundred bucks.

If you can’t tell good stuff from bad, you will be skinned alive at a flea market, and you will come home with a lot of Chinese tools. Look for “USA” on everything you buy, and you should do okay. Use your phone to check prices.

I couldn’t get people to haggle at all. I got one dollar off the asking price for the three big wrenches. Maybe my clothes were too clean.

I’m happy. I tend to lose small adjustable wrenches, so next time it happens, I won’t lose much.

Maybe next week I’ll hit some garage sales.


Forgot to mention another reason the Internet is not as reliable as one would hope: queered ratings.

I bought a Ridgid Jobmax reciprocating saw attachment. You probably call this kind of saw a “Sawzall.” I had had great results with the drill, impact driver, and sanding attachments, so I figured the saw would be useful.

When I used the saw, I was very disappointed. It seemed to get bogged down very easily. I felt it was worthless. You could cut something like foam with it, but people buy this type of saw for wood and metal.

I gave it a one-star review on Home Depot’s site. One day a guy who worked for Ridgid emailed me, asking questions. I didn’t like being pestered about the review, but I responded. I said I wasn’t interested in being part of product development, because I figured that was what Ridgid wanted.

He said they weren’t trying to involve me in product development, and he said various things to defend the saw. He said it was only for light duty. Okay, but I still didn’t like it.

He thanked me for my input, and he said he would like to send me some Ridgid gear, so I gave him my address. Then he asked if it would be okay to take down my one-star rating.

No, it was not okay. It was disturbing and unethical.

I told him the Home Depot ad didn’t mention light duty. It said the saw “will tackle most any repair job.” I have never found the tool to be of any use at all. I don’t know why I didn’t return it. Maybe I thought some day I would have a job light enough for it to handle. I think my review was right on target.

He said it was intended for things like PVC. Coincidentally, I had to do a lot of PVC work last year, and I went out and got a corded DeWalt reciprocating saw. I was not about to try the Jobmax.

To be fair, today I put a 2 1/2″ PVC pipe in a vise and tried to cut it with the Jobmax. You would not believe how slow it was. I got about 3/16″ into the pipe and quit. It looked like I was going to be there a while. The DeWalt would have gone through it as if it were toast.

If you absolutely have to leave your sawzall at home, yes, take the Jobmax. It’s better than a steak knife. But don’t even let yourself fantasize about the possibility that it’s a real reciprocating saw.

I was not all that excited about the Ridgid gear. I like tool-related shirts, but Ridgid’s signature color is orange, so I felt it was unlikely that I would want to wear a Ridgid shirt. It turned out I was in no danger; after I refused to let them remove the review, he said they were out of shirts. I don’t know what they’re sending.

A cynical person might wonder if they always run out of shirts when someone refuses to change a review, but I assume he was telling the truth.

I agreed to let them send me stuff because there was some chance there might be something good included, and they offered before telling me they wanted to take the review down.

Now that I know they ask people to change their reviews, I wish I had turned down the offer.

The point of this story is to let people know that at least one company out there is asking people for permission to remove negative reviews. When I bought that awful saw, the reviews looked good, and I was shocked when I found out how useless it was. Now I wonder how many helpful negative reviews were abandoned by customers who like orange shirts.

I honestly believe the tool is bad, and I would never consider recommending it to anyone. As a customer, I want to protect people from this product, which disappointed me. It seems to me that Ridgid should put its energy into fixing the tool instead of the reviews.

If Ridgid is doing this, who else is doing it?

It’s a bummer, because I really like Ridgid tools. I have two Jobmaxes, a table saw, an oscillating sander, and two miter saws. Whenever I shop for a power tool, I look at Ridgid first, because I like their products and their warranty. Now I’m afraid to believe other people’s reviews.

Here’s what would really be bad: a review of a Ridgid tool, published by Popular Mechanics. “I give the Ridgid jigsaw two thumbs up, because it was great for cutting out the foamboard background for my bedroom shrine to Justin Bieber! It was so quick and easy, I didn’t even sweat up my man bun!”

I hope people are impressed that I didn’t whore myself out for a T-shirt. It will take more than that to buy me off. They should have offered me a free beer insulator.

If you like researching tools online before you buy, remember my sad tale of woe. You may only be seeing half of the reviews.

As long as I’m here, let me say I bought the Jobmax ratchet, and it slipped. If you buy one, make sure you test it thoroughly and apply for the lifetime warranty.


Avoiding Weld Schmerz

February 3rd, 2017

More Stuff I Don’t Actually Need to Do

Having had great success with my welded box wrench bottle opener, I am planning to do some more metalworking projects. It occurred to me that turning trash into useful objects would be an effective and inexpensive way to improve my abysmal welding skills. I’m thinking I may hit the flea markets this weekend and pick up some junk to work on.

I really need practice. I had some problems with the last two items I welded.

In 2016, I used stainless wire to weld the corner back onto a cast iron motor base. The weld worked, but it was very ugly, and there was a lot of spatter. I couldn’t see a thing when I welded it, so the weld wandered around a bit, and I also deposited too much wire. Experiences like this are the reason I’m so good at using the angle grinder.

When I welded the wrench/opener, I still couldn’t see, and I ended up with blobs that had to be ground off. The spatter was also bad.

Day before yesterday, I took out some scrap steel and ran some beads on it, and I discovered the cause of the poor visibility. The welder’s shade was set too dark. I guess that should have been obvious, but when I was welding the motor and opener, I had this dim memory of having tried adjusting the darkness setting, and I thought it wouldn’t work. Clearly I was wrong. D’OH.

As for the spatter, I learned that 75/25 is the wrong gas for stainless. People are telling me to use pure argon. Something about the CO2 reacting with stainless. They say it causes spatter and also makes joints rust. There is also something called “tri-mix,” which contains helium as well as argon and CO2. I am told it works really well, and that if you know what you’re doing, you can do just about any type of electric welding with only three tanks. Supposedly you can connect the tanks and create mixtures. Don’t ask me if that’s true.

I decided to get an argon tank. I learned a few things about buying gas and tanks, so I am here to pass it on. Don’t assume I’m right, especially if you live outside the US.

First of all, there are two types of tanks. Some tanks are company-owned rentals, and others are customer-owned.

Company tanks have the names of the companies stamped somewhere on the neck. If you buy one of these tanks from a private party, you may be receiving stolen goods, and if you take it to be refilled, two things can happen. You may be turned away, and the tank may be confiscated. This is bad.

Customer tanks have “slick” necks (people use that word to describe them). No stamps, except for regulatory stuff like test dates. If you have a tank like this, you can take it anywhere to be filled, and you won’t have a problem.

If you have a customer tank, and you want to swap it instead of getting it filled, you need to tell the gas people when you bring it in. If you don’t, they may do two things. First, they may give you a rental tank, and then you have to keep bringing it back to them forever, and they think they own it. Second, they may stamp their name on your tank, which is another way of saying they may steal it.

These things are also bad.

When I got my MIG, I bought a new tank. I thought this was a smart thing to do. I think it was around $140, empty. Imagine my surprise when Airgas swapped me an old one for it instead of filling it. I wanted to use my pretty new tank, but they gave me a crappy one that wasn’t shiny at all. Oh well.

Intelligent people do not buy new tanks. Well…they don’t do it twice. Although I do have two CO2 tanks I bought new, and I bought a beer gas tank new. Okay, they don’t do it five times. That’s my story.

You can buy used tanks and save a lot of loot. If you buy used, you need to make sure a) the tanks are customer tanks, and b) their test stamps are valid, or at least they are still in good enough shape to be tested. If you buy a tank that’s expired but still okay, you will have to pay a certification fee when you turn it in for a swap, but at least they won’t discard it. If the stamp is good when you refill it, you will have no problems at all.

Luckily for me, the Airgas I used did not give me a rental tank, so I still own whatever is currently attached to my welder, and I can get it filled anywhere. Also, they confirm that I can buy a used tank somewhere else and get it swapped at their shop. You need to look into things like this before you buy used tanks.

Final thing: small tanks are generally not rentals, so the stuff I wrote above may not apply to you.

I found a guy on Craigslist, and he sells full tanks cheap. He swears they’re up to date, and that they’re all customer tanks. I decided to give him a try. Today he’s bringing me 125 cubic feet of argon for $120. We will see if it’s a good deal or not. Hopefully it won’t turn out to be propane or mustard gas.

My existing tank is 80 cubic feet. Because I started with a new tank, I went a little cheap. A bigger tank would have cost a lot more. I now think I made a mistake. A bigger tank will last a lot longer, it won’t be much heavier, and it will fit on the same cart. It probably makes more sense to have a 125 cu. ft. 75/25 tank and an 80 cu. ft. argon tank, since one doesn’t generally weld stainless, but I have what I have.

I sincerely hope the Craigslist guy isn’t a complete crook, but I will have plenty of time to call the cops on him later if he cheats me, and I feel like the deal is good enough to warrant some risk. Even if all I get is the tank, at $120, I’ll be doing okay.

I’m not totally sure of the best way to weld old wrenches to stainless. The steel in wrenches isn’t exactly stainless, but it’s not plain old mild steel, either. It looks like stainless when you saw it and grind it. My plan is to use bits of stainless in my projects using tools like wrenches, so I’m going to use pure argon and see what happens. My guess is that it’s better to use argon and stainless wire with stainless and wrench metal than it is to treat everything like carbon steel.

I think the idea of making stuff from scrap is a very good one. I don’t come up with legitimate welding projects very often, and welding is not something you can do once a year and expect good results. You really need to do it more than once a month in order to avoid horrible results.

I’m 65% sure the information I provided here is right, but in any event, it should be a good start for anyone who wants to weld stuff other than carbon steel. If you read this post, you will definitely be better off than I was a month ago.

I do hope the Craigslist guy doesn’t kill me and take all my stuff. That would spoil everything.


I decided to do what I should have done before writing this: I Googled wrench steel. I learned that the “chrome vanadium” stamps on wrenches aren’t just advertising hype.

Good wrenches are made from steel to which chromium and vanadium have been added. This makes them more corrosion-resistant than ordinary steel, and it also gives them all sorts of structural strength. You can actually make springs from it. This steel can be hardened to Rockwell 55, whereas you would generally expect a good knife to be around 58.

Stainless steel has to have something like 10% chromium, and chrome vanadium comes in at about 1%.

People on the web say it’s a good idea to preheat it when welding it.

Hope this is useful or at least interesting.

Even More

The gas guy (He should put that on his business card: “Call and I will give you gas.”) arrived with my tank. I’m awestruck. It’s a newish tank, complete with argon sticker and safety cap, full of argon. A new tank, all by itself, runs $350, so I feel like I got a crazy bargain.

Let’s hope there is real argon in it when I open it up.

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The World Gets an Intervention

February 2nd, 2017

President Tough Love Melts the Snow

Trump’s first couple of weeks in office have been very interesting.

I don’t really follow the news any more, but I’ve noticed a few things. Trump is doing stuff he promised to do, and that is making heads explode all over the world.

This morning I realized that the single thing that makes Trump a revolutionary president is this: he is the first president elected in my lifetime…who didn’t owe anything to special interests. That’s incredible!

You can say I’m wrong, and that this faction or that faction helped him. That’s not what I’m talking about. No one gets elected without support. Trump got help from various groups, but unlike every other president elected in (at least) the last 50 years, he was not the CREATION and SERVANT of any particular group, except for his bona fide grassroots fan base.

Democrats serve large corporations, unions, minority blocs, women, and various fringe-nut groups. Republicans serve wealthy donors and a certain percentage of corporations liberals are trying to destroy. Trump serves millions of nuts in red hats. I don’t mean “nut” in a bad way; I’m just describing their enthusiasm.

I also realized Trump knows exactly what he’s doing. Do I mean he understands foreign policy or the ins and outs of his job? No. I mean that when he acts like a loose cannon, it’s very deliberate. He’s using negotiating skills he learned from multiplying a $1 million seed loan by 9,000. He is being the same aggressive businessman he has always been, and even if he’s a nasty guy on a personal level, his aggression is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. It’s just good business.

Americans have a sick tendency to treat business contacts like family members. We talk about “offense” and “feelings.” That’s not healthy at all. Business is hardball. Attorneys use the term “arm’s length” to describe the way businesspeople treat each other. You try to do what’s right, and you avoid breaking the law, but other than that, you look after your own interest, and you expect the other party to look after his. This may not be a great strategy in the Christian world, in interpersonal dealings, but in secular business, it’s normal and correct.

Why is Trump offending foreign leaders and other poobahs who are used to being treated like snowflakes? Because unlike them, he’s a businessman. He has spent his life getting things done, not trying to get elected and collecting poorly disguisded bribes. Unlike government employees around the world (like Obama, who has never had a real job), Trump knows what it’s like to wake up in the morning and know that if he doesn’t hustle, he can lose everything he has and end up selling cars for a living.

Trump is hungry. Most government employees are not. They are parasites, and they’re used to failing upward. Naturally, they expect deference and butt-kissing. The people Trump deals with in business don’t expect that, and Trump probably doesn’t know how to do it anyway.

Trump is giving world leaders a lesson in growing up.

People say he’s going to start a war. Really? Did the Ayatollah Khomeini start a war when he kidnapped and held Americans for 444 days? Did Kim Jong-Il start a war when he violated international agreements and built nuclear weapons? It’s pretty hard to start a war. Even Hitler had to take over half of Europe to really get other countries off their duffs and into uniform. I seriously doubt Trump has the ability to start a war except by large-scale military action. Tweeting and making blunt (truthful) remarks in phone calls will not do it.

People say other countries will be less likely to cooperate with us and help us. Seriously? Like they help us now? Are we going to lose all the aid the Saudis send us? Are the Japanese going to stop funding our military? Are Mexicans going to stop sending us unvetted people they can’t feed? Trump understands something the rest of us have forgotten: we have a very powerful negotiating position. Suddenly, we’re using it, and Trump is the only one who isn’t upset.

This is how he got rich. He wasn’t born a billionaire. This isn’t a charm offensive, intended to butter up nations that don’t respect us and don’t do anything for us. It’s business. Trump isn’t doing anything new. He’s doing what he has done for fifty years, in a different office.

Trump won’t start a war, but he will get us better deals. He doesn’t care what rich people or selfish voting blocs think, because they didn’t do a thing for him, and they can’t give him orders. He will be motivated by egotism, the joy of the game, and a desire to make America more powerful. I never thought I’d see someone like that occupying the Oval Office.

Is this a good thing? I don’t think it matters. His policies, not his manners, are what will determine whether America prospers on his watch. Making stupid decisions politely will kill a country just as quickly as making stupid decisions rudely. Obama used to go on apology tours, criticizing America and bowing to sleazy tinpot leaders in silly nations that cause problems. It wasn’t helpful at all. We lost respect all over the world. He attacked business and caused a dramatic upturn in the pathological entitlement mentality of the unproductive and irresponsible. If the Fed hadn’t inflated our currency, we would still be in a recession, and we will eventually have to eat the bill for that inflation. We cannibalized ourselves. You can’t gain weight by eating your own flesh.

I hope Trump will make good decisions. He probably will, because he is dynamic and extremely capable. His big obstacle will be pride. If he can manage to change direction when needed, admitting error, he’ll be a great president. If not, well, at least he saved us from a socialist federal judiciary, and he slowed down America’s slide into all-out, open, state-sponsored persecution of Christians and Jews. I suppose our lives are worth something.

I don’t care if he offends people. He’s not a game show host. He’s a president. Obama offended me and my kind a thousand times. No one seems to think that matters. If leftists hate listening to Trump and living under his rule, all I can say is, welcome to my world. I got over it, and so will they.

America is a snowflake nation, and because we’re snowflakes, we can’t even see it. Electing Trump is like rolling a car window down while driving on a freezing day. The shock will do us good.


Some Giants are Just Windmills

February 1st, 2017

Or Just Windy

My efforts to complete the reading list for Columbia College’s Lit. Hum. course continue. I would almost call it a quest at this point, which is fitting, since I’m currently mired in Don Quixote.

Once again, I am having a hard time comprehending the enthusiasm scholars have for an ancient book. I started reading quite some time ago, and it has been so unpleasant, I only reached the hundredth page today. It reminds of of a joke I once read about a book a reader didn’t like. His review read, “I couldn’t pick it up.”

The cover of the book has two blurbs of praise on it. One comes from the author Vladimir Nabokov. I know I’ve read Lolita, because I remember a phrase from the book, but I must not have been very moved, because that phrase is nearly all I remember. Is Nabokov a good writer, or was he just a purveyor of lurid pulp novels? I don’t recall.

Here is what Nabokov says:

Don Quixote is greater today than he was in Cervantes’s womb. [He] looms so wonderfully above the skyline of literature, a gaunt giant on a lean nag, that the book lives and will live through [his] sheer vitality. . . . He stands for everything that is gentle, forlorn, pure, unselfish, and gallant. The parody has become a paragon.

Based on my hundred pages, that looks pretty crazy.

First of all, I can’t figure out how to make the quotation work with the brackets removed. Sometimes that can be a real puzzle. Try “than he was in Cervantes’s womb. looms so wonderfully…” It’s hard to see how that could make sense. Maybe Nabokov was drunk, and he dictated the blurb into a publisher’s answering machine.

Apart from that, it’s hard to see why anyone would call Don Quixote gentle or unselfish. He was a violent lunatic who went around hacking at innocent people with a sword. How can that be gentle? I don’t know if English was Nabokov’s first language. Maybe he misunderstood the word. He also forced Sancho Panza to share his misery and join in the beatings he received, paying him nothing in exchange. If that’s not selfish, then I need to look the word up and refresh my memory.

In my dim memories of Columbia, Don Quixote is a too-long and somewhat humorous book. I am sticking with “too long,” but I feel I must withdraw “humorous.” It’s not even slightly funny. DQ attacks a windmill, and it lifts him by his lance and drops him on the ground. Is that funny? I don’t think so. It was funny when Rabelais’ Frere Jean D’Entommeures used a cross as a battle weapon and shoved it up a man’s rear end, and it was funny when Gargantua’s horse drowned a bunch of pilgrims in urine. These things were gross and sophomoric, but they were funny. Falling off a windmill is not funny or even clever. It’s not even funny by Three Stooges standards.

Cervantes seems to have a few things going for him. He is intelligent, and he appears to be well-read. He can put a paragraph or a page together. But he’s not very creative, and his stories are pointless. They don’t have any connection to each other. One of the unwritten rules of fiction is that you don’t add anything that doesn’t serve a purpose. When you write an Archie comic book, you don’t have Jughead see a flying saucer on the second page and then never mention it again. DQ wanders from isolated adventure to isolated adventure, and once an event is behind him, it vanishes as though it had never been written. That’s not how novels are supposed to work.

It’s more like a Fifties TV series than a novel. One week, Lucy dresses up as a man so she can join Ricky’s band to see if he’s cheating on her. The next week, Fred is arrested in the ladies’ room of a major department store. One episode has no relationship to the next. DQ has the same kind of existence. He bounces around in Spain, like a chrome bearing in a pinball machine. He hits the windmill bumper and bounces off. He hits the Basque squire bumper and bounces off, minus one ear. I can’t wait for him to roll between the flippers and disappear.

I’m not impressed by Cervantes’ knowledge of old literature. Think about it…how many books did a man of his era have access to? You couldn’t log onto Amazon and have any of millions of titles installed on your tablet in thirty seconds. You had to read the classics and whatever crap had been written up to your time. OF COURSE he had read Virgil and Homer and all the books of chivalry. What else was there to read? If you had been alive back then, you would have read all of that stuff, too. How many books did you read last year? Probably more than Cervantes read in five years.

When I was at Columbia, I took the DQ course taught by a man I will call Dr. S; a scholar people referred to as a genius. Like many other students, I thought it was ridiculous, and I never saw the brilliance of the book or, quite honestly, of the man who taught the course. He’s dead, so I can say that. The course was a rite of passage and an easy B, so everybody took it. S never said anything I considered remotely smart, and I never developed the impression that Cervantes was a writer of real stature.

Not all of my professors were like that. I took an advanced French poetry course taught by a guy named Daniel Penham, and I thought he and the material were great. I kept the textbook and looked for other books by the same author (Morris Bishop). The class was small, all of the students sat around a single table, and Penham told us all sorts of interesting things about France, French, the poets, and so on. I’m not the problem here. If S’s class or Cervantes’ book had had the stuff, I believe I would have perceived it.

People I knew thought S was incoherent. Sure seemed that way to me. Maybe he was slipping by the time I took his course. They said he was being treated for cancer.

It looks like an emperor’s-clothes situation to me. If people say a writer is brilliant for five hundred years, it doesn’t matter whether they’re right. Anyone who disagrees will be sent to sit on the Group W bench. I will take my seat gladly if it means I don’t have to read any more Cervantes. Life is too short.

In the liberal arts, you don’t have to do much or be very smart to be considered brilliant. Memorizing a lot of things and learning a couple of languages will do it. It’s strange that liberal arts professors have big egos and consider themselves gifted, when they walk the same halls as physicists and mathematicians.

Liberal arts people are intellectuals. The thing people forget is that “intellectual” doesn’t mean “intelligent person.” It really means “academic” or “academic buff” in practice. It describes an insular group of people who read the same books and use the same argot to confirm each other’s borrowed perceptions and opinions. Intellectuals use a lot of big words, but that doesn’t mean they’re bright. It just means they’re clannish. Sailors use a lot of funny words, too, but no one thinks it proves they’re smart.

Okay, okay. I’ll go sit on the bench.

I feel like these books are cages. I committed to read them, so I can’t spend much time reading things I actually consider interesting. I’m working on Dark Sun, the follow-up to The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and I really want to read the Eugene Sledge and Robert Leckie books I bought. Arrgh. I wish I had one of those Matrix plugs I could jam in the back of my head to get DQ into me in three seconds.

Don Quixote de la Mancha: If you are a gentleman, take up arms that I might engage you in mortal combat. If not, let me know, and I will send my cloth-eared squire to beat you with a stave.

Morpheus: How the hell did you get in here?

I’m glad there are people who dedicate their lives to studying and preserving this material, and I’m also glad there are people who dedicate their lives to embalming the dead and squeezing other people’s boils. I think that sums it up. Was the Vietnam War really so scary that it was worth it for men to bury themselves in this stuff in order to get deferments? How bad can land mines and punji sticks be?

Maybe I can force myself to sit down this week and knock this book off. Like the Abbe Faria, digging his way out of seclusion with a spoon, I could eventually tunnel my way back into the light. I suppose that’s the best option, since I can’t go back in time and pay Cervantes for his manuscript so I can burn it.

Enough for one day. I need to go weld something.



January 31st, 2017

Out Top Gear-ing Top Gear

If I haven’t posted much lately, it’s because I am exhausted from recreation.

My oldest friend (not literally oldest, but the one I’ve known the longest) decided he wanted my dad’s 1995 Ford Explorer, which I was about to sell on Craigslist. It has at least 146,000 miles (for a while he couldn’t find a mechanic who could fix an odometer), it leans to the left, it smells really interesting, and my dad had the heat disconnected because it went bad and would have cost $800 to repair. I told my friend (Mike) it was “a real piece of crap,” but he wanted it to plow his driveway in New Hampshire, so we cut a deal for $500, and he flew down to get it.

My dad keeps saying Mike “stole” it. Guess I’ll be hearing that for quite some time.

It seemed to be okay before Mike came down, and then when he arrived, the overdrive wouldn’t work, and it lost something like a quart of oil every hundred miles. I have a recollection of adding oil to it recently, but I didn’t know it had a serious leak.

Some interesting facts that make the story richer: Mike’s birthday was yesterday, and he forgot to renew his driver’s license. When we tried to address this online, we found that New Hampshire’s online renewal system only works if you have the code they mail you before your birthday; the code Mike didn’t bring. Can you renew over the phone? Sure. The paperwork takes maybe a week to arrive by mail, and during that time, your license is not considered valid.

Also, Mike decided not to bring his winter clothes, because Florida is warm. Think about that.

He said, “When I left, it was forty degrees.” I pointed out that sometimes weather changes. I think that was helpful.

I had told Mike the car was only guaranteed until he got it out of my dad’s driveway, but he drove it to Delray Beach and back (funeral: a friend’s father had died), and it came back two quarts low, so I reluctantly decided his friendship was worth more than $500, and we spent several days doing a Top Gear-style restoration to get the car ready for the trip north.

During this time, Mike scored a number of free meals off of me via guilt trips, and I also gave him a treasured possession: the world’s best bottle opener.

Mike loves my tool collection. While I was showing it to him, I showed him the severed end of a 1 1/2″ box wrench. I had it on hand because I had bought a $9 Chinese wrench and modified it to use as a tool post wrench. I’ll post a photo. I had cut one end off to make the wrench shorter. You don’t want a really long tool post wrench, because if you have too much leverage, you may crack your compound slide when you tighten the nut.

Mike thought it was disgraceful that I hadn’t turned the wrench end into a project, and he suggested a bottle opener. That actually sounded good, so while he was at the funeral, I got to work. I had a piece of 304 stainless steel, and I cut a semicircle out of it, using a hacksaw and my belt grinders. I then welded it across the wrench opening. Because I am having all sorts of problems with my helmet, I couldn’t see what I was doing, so I left big globs of weld on the wrench, and I had to grind it down to make it pretty.

I was going to keep the opener, but then I thought of Mike’s frozen corpse sitting in a Ford Explorer with a seized engine, surrounded by puzzled state troopers, one of which was busy writing his dead body a ticket for driving without a license, and I decided to make it a birthday present, because that would completely make up for sending him to an untimely death.

Before turning the opener over to him, I put a lanyard hole in the end of it. Now Mike has the world’s heaviest keychain.

Mike thought a new ABS sensor might fix the overdrive problem, so we spent a day crawling around under the Explorer, and we got a new one installed. We put a quart of Lucas Engine Oil Stop Leak in the engine, and that seemed ( ! ) to reduce the leak’s flow to an acceptable rate.

Unfortunately, the transmission fluid level was low, and Mike added too much, so we spent the next day looking for someone to flush the transmission. Mike figured he might as well flush it instead of just having the level reduced. The weather had turned cold and rainy, so that was fun. I wore traditional Miami cold weather gear: a hooded fleece jacket with shorts. Maybe not the best choice.

Sears gave Mike a service appointment, but when we arrived, we learned that a Sears appointment is really an appointment to stand in line. It seems to serve no purpose at all. When we got to the front of the line, they refused to service the car because of the mileage. You would think they would have mentioned this on the phone, but Sears is dying, so I guess the people who work there are not knocking themselves out in order to get promoted.

I did offer to give the money back and put the car on Craigslist, but by now Mike was on a quest. He wasn’t about to surrender. Thank God.

The next day he got up early and bought an inverter from Harbor Freight. This is a device that turns DC into AC. He figured he would install it inside the car and connect a 1500-watt space heater to it. I am completely serious. My suggestion was to stop at Salvation Army stores during the trip and buy a used down jacket and gloves.

He collected me, and we decided to go to a Salvation Army store to see if they had anything he could use to keep himself alive. Miraculously, they had an unused electric blanket. I thought that was the answer. Put the blanket on, turn on the inverter, and drive. That has to be better than a heater, which blows hot air in random directions. It was like five bucks, so Mike decided to buy it. I also found an incredible deal: a #6 Wagner Ware skillet in perfect condition. Mike is my friend, so of course, my first impulse was to grab it before he got to it and buy it for myself, but I already have three #6 skillets, so I decided to let him have it. If he hadn’t bought it, I think I would have shot him. It’s the perfect size for cornbread. He got it for $3.75. Talk about “stole.”

We spent most of yesterday running cables through the car’s firewall and installing the inverter. He fired it up, and sure enough, it powered an electric drill. Now that he’s gone, I’m kind of wondering if it’s okay to use an inverter while the car is running, but I guess he’ll have to find out on his own. Maybe I should disconnect the phone.

He won’t be able to get a heater until he gets to Fort Lauderdale. In Miami, stores only order a few heaters every year, and on the first cool day, Cubans storm the aisles and buy every last one. The ones they can’t use, they sell for a massive profit. Probably. That’s what they do with generators during hurricanes. Anyway, there are no heaters here today.

I am still dealing with the virus I got a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have congestion or anything, but I have a crappy feeling that gets worse with exertion and lack of sleep. Last night I collapsed on my bed and started sweating, even though the mattress was cold. I thought for minute that I might be dying. I was cool with that. I still had Mike’s money, so I was dying a winner.

I slept about nine and a half hours, and then I got up to say goodbye to Mike. I still don’t feel rested, but I think a day of total loafing will put me right.

I shouldn’t worry about Mike. He’s a possibility thinker. Whatever happens, he will come up with a solution that will get him to New Hampshire. Anyone who would put a space heater in a $500 car can be trusted to look after himself.

I was hoping to talk to Mike about God while he was here, but he kept me so busy, I didn’t make as much progress as I had hoped. I managed to get him to sit still for a prayer session with my friend Travis and me. Mike loved it, and he talked about it before he left. He had been in a hurry to get to a car parts store, so he almost missed the session, but I got him to put it off long enough to pray. I told him you pray BEFORE you fix the problem, not afterward. That’s an extremely important thing to learn.

Considering all the barbecued ribs I bought Mike during the week, I’m not sure the car sale will show a profit, but at least it’s gone.

If you have a junk car, and you want a really interesting cheap project to improve it, I highly recommend an inverter. It will allow you to use power tools when the car breaks down. You can’t beat that.

I can’t wait for night so I can sleep some more. And I’m going to miss that bottle opener.