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Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Black Socks, Bermuda Shorts, and a Warm Ma Deuce

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

The Dream is Within Reach

I had the funniest experience yesterday.

I was watching American Pickers, the show about the guys who drive around buying old stuff other people have hoarded. They resell it, usually at about a 100% markup. They burrow through barns and attics, and they meet all sorts of interesting people. Very often, they end up on big properties with one or more outbuildings, and the buildings are full of junk.

Yesterday, they took a random right turn and ended up on a dirt road which had not been selected in advance (supposedly). They went past a “KEEP OUT” sign and stopped at a building resembling a garage. They hollered and went in, and they found two weird old guys playing homemade musical instruments. They were surrounded by tools and knickknacks.

I heard myself think, “THIS IS HOW I WANT TO LIVE.”

Not so much the sitting around with another old guy, playing music on an instrument made from a plunger handle and a Chock Full of Nuts can. Not that part. The part I liked was being a good distance off the road, on a big property, with no one aggravating me. In a building with concrete walls. Surrounded by cool stuff.

They visited another guy later. He was some sort of engineer, I think. I don’t remember. Naval something or other. He had a lathe, a huge bending brake, lots of grinders, a giant vault, and God knows what else. There were old tin toys there. He had a wooden wind-tunnel model of a plane; his uncle had built it for some outfit that was trying to make supersonic aircraft.

I realized one of the major differences between my garage and his shop was character. He was doing more to keep his junk ordered. I tend to avoid the garage in the summer, because the heat is bad, and a couple of pieces of garage door insulation fell off a while back, which made things worse. The garage was a big mess.

Day before yesterday I went out and fixed the insulation and straightened up a little. After I watched the pickers show, I continued. I went back to work on my garlic press project. You can’t really clean up a shop if there are old projects lying around.

In cross-section, from the side, the press is an H. It’s a stainless tube blocked by a plate about halfway down. The plate will have holes in it, and there will be a plunger which mashes garlic through the holes. Think of a hypodermic syringe with a sieve instead of a needle at the end. Sort of like that.

I had a cylinder made, and I had bored out one end of it. I needed to bore the other end, leaving a 0.10″-thick plate in the tube, for the holes to go through. I considered doing this on the lathe, but the steel I’m using throws ungodly long chips, so I stuck it on the mill and used a 1/2″ end mill.

08 28 13 garlic press body on rotary table

It took forever, dropping down 0.025″ at a time and going through 360° of rotation, but I got it done. Now I have to radius the sharp edges and drill the holes. The plunger is already done. It fits so well, when you drop it in the press, it sinks in very slowly, because it’s hard for the air under it to escape.

That’s cool. I like to drop the plunger over and over and watch it sink.

It’s looking more and more like I’m getting out of here. God be praised. I would say that even if I were an atheist. I do NOT NOT NOT like Miami. I want to be able to go outside and walk a hundred yards before hitting a property line. I want to hear English once in a while. I want to be able to wear long pants occasionally. I want to be able to drive ten miles in less than twenty minutes.

My dad has a 46-foot boat which has been a problem. He uses it as a place to hide out, which is fine, but it’s his main motivation for staying in Miami. I can’t let his hobby ruin my life. I want him to enjoy himself, but this is too much to ask. He doesn’t want me to move 700 miles away, and I understand that, because of his age. I’m against it, too. But if I have to leave without him, I will do it, because this place is not right for me.

Today he started talking about selling the boat. Thank you, Lord. He could keep it in Pensacola (currently my preferred destination), and maybe that’s the better option, but I’m glad to see him consider unloading it. It shows God is breaking things loose.

I am not excited about practicing law, but it’s a pleasant way to earn money, and if I can do it up there and generate income without becoming a cubicle slave, you better believe I’ll do it and be grateful.

Some people need room. I guess I’m one of them. I have several worthwhile hobbies you can’t indulge in a small suburban house. I want to be able to shoot on my own land. I need a shop with an area of at least 800 square feet. I need a normal-sized kitchen. Until I get these things, I’m going to feel like I’m wearing a burlap straitjacket.

I feel bad for my dad. Rejecting God preserves your pride, but it costs you peace and satisfaction. God is ordering my path, and he would gladly order my dad’s path, too, if he would give in.

I’ve located some tempting properties in the 20-acre range. That will suffice. I’d rather have a hundred, but from this chair, I can see three houses without standing up, so 20 will seem like heaven itself.

Prayer in tongues lines things up. It makes things happen. People reject this advice. I can’t help that. I put it out there. Benefit from it or don’t. At least I can say I told you.

Hopefully by this time next year, I’ll have a shop and some tomato plants. That would sure be nice.

Smaller, Worse, Slower

Monday, February 18th, 2013

America’s New Slogan

Last night I had a remarkable experience. I watched the James Bond movie, Skyfall.

It’s remarkable that I sat through it. Skyfall is a truly terrible movie. They have the best James Bond ever, and they’ve already destroyed and abandoned the character. It also looks like they’re hiring people’s girlfriends to write the scripts. But apart from that, I was amazed by what it showed me about the world.

Part of the movie took place in Shanghai. According to Wikipedia, Shanghai is twice the size of Los Angeles. The population is around 23,000,000.

They showed some night scenes, shot from the air. You could shove New York inside this place and never notice it. It’s gigantic. And the buildings are gorgeous. They’re new. They’re clean. They’re immense. They’re lit up with all sorts of electric displays. Lights. Moving advertisements. It looks like a carnival for giants.

The streets are filled, not with bicycles or pedestrian traffic, but with cars, trucks, and buses. The roads are modern.

It buries anything America has to offer. It’s not even a contest. Our cities look puny and dirty by comparison. They look poor.

Shanghai has three buildings over 400 meters in height, and it will have a fourth in 2014. The entire US has two, and they would rank third and fourth in present-day Shanghai. Take a look at this page to see what has happened in Shanghai: Shanghai: 1990 vs. 2010.

We have lost. That’s what the movie showed me. Our economy is still bigger than theirs, but they’re on the way up, and we’re on the way down, and unlike us, they still believe in “bigger, better, faster.” Their human rights record is dismal, and they have a lot of pollution, but they are still leaving us in the dust, and even if they cleaned up and treated their citizens better, that would not change. Critics love to point to the pollution and oppression, as if these things somehow generated China’s prosperity, but they’re wrong. It came from hard work, and from our disobedience to God. These people are our enemies, and God has stopped restraining them, just as he has stopped restraining the anti-progress leftist nuts who used to lose elections here in the US.

A long time ago, I realized that a man’s sins can breed and feed an giant enemy who sits beneath the horizon. You may think nothing you brings consequences, but somewhere, an angry behemoth may be dining on your wickedness, and one day, he may step over the horizon in the blink of an eye and destroy you. It happened to the ancient Jews more than once, and it can happen to us.

Shanghai is just one city, in one country. What about Mumbai? What about Moscow? Xingdao, Beijing, Hong Kong…go to Ebay and look for tools, and see the place names that come up.

When China goes after Taiwan, we will back down. They’re going to be ready, armed with weapons we paid for, and we’re going to be mumbling “Believe in America” and “You didn’t build that.” The socialists and America-worshipers will have to drop to their knees and say, “Enjoy your new province.”

America isn’t going to be restored unless we repent and pray. It may already be too late for our nation, but you can still save your family.

GPS Without Transistors

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Follow the Pillar of Fire

I want to pass on a little advice. It’s a piece of knowledge that has been useful to me.

As many Christians know, the Bible is like the Constitution (or any other set of laws). It provides many benefits, but you won’t necessarily receive them unless you apply. It’s like the Fifth Amendment. The cops can’t question you after say you want an attorney, but if you don’t assert your right, they’ll question you anyway. There are many things God will do for you whether or not you ask, but on the whole, it’s best to make your needs known and stand on God’s promises.

Here’s a promise which is particularly useful: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.” That’s Psalm 37, verses 23 and 24. It’s clearly a general promise available to all. It doesn’t say “a good Jewish man” or “a good man who sacrifices at the temple” or “a good man with freckles.”

Lately, I’ve been bringing this promise up in prayer, more than once a day. I ask God to honor it until the next time I ask. I believe prayer is like manna in that you shouldn’t rely on yesterday’s ration, so I think it’s important to ask repeatedly and not to expect the prayer to keep you going for the rest of your life. There are some things you only have to ask for once, or which you can stop asking for, once God confirms he will do what you want, but it pays not to take chances.

I remind him of similar promises. The Bible says that when your father and mother forsake you, the Lord will take you up. It says you will hear his voice behind you, telling you which way to turn. It says he will lead you in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

I also ask God to lead my enemies onto the points of their own swords and to hold them there until they repent.

What I’ve found is that when I make this request, things go better. There is less dead time in the day. I get things done. I spend less time goofing off or wandering in confusion. Life is more organized. There is less stress.

This prayer got me over the hump with CAD software. As I wrote earlier, I’m finally able to use it. And it has also led to greater musical productivity. I’m getting all sorts of good melodies written down. I really think I’m going to get to the point where I’ll be selling music. It’s going to be good enough to publish. That’s amazing. Music can be extremely lucrative. You only need one successful work to keep you fed and clothed when you’re retired.

I suggest you try asking God for guidance, daily. See what happens.

I’m very excited about music, because I’ve come to realize that writing music requires the same gift as cooking. It’s really no different. When you write recipes, it comes from inspiration. You’ll be sitting around thinking about other things, and suddenly you’ll imagine a flavor or a texture, and the way to create it, and you’ll write it down and try it. Your imagination tells you what will taste good, and your work only serves to confirm it. When you write music, melodies that “taste good” to the ear come into your mind, and all you have to do is write them in musical notation. If it sounds good, it IS good. That’s the only test.

I find that God is as willing to give me tunes as he is recipes. And here’s one great thing about music: you don’t have to make a mess in order to create it. You don’t have to drive to the store and buy food. You don’t have to wreck the kitchen. And when it’s done, you can preserve it forever, and you can email it and publish it with very little effort.

I don’t know how I would go about finding a market for music, but I’m sure there’s a way. When I have a portfolio built up, I should be able to do something with it.

I consider myself a writer and a creator of music. I think those are the things I should focus on. The other stuff is great, but I believe it deserves less priority. No one will ever pay me to run a lathe, and no one will ever draw closer to God while listening to me make a pizza.

I’ll put up the piece I’m working on now. I was shooting for something resembing a spiritual, but it has more of a classical sound. I love classical music. There’s no reason why I can’t enjoy writing it. I know it’s not fashionable, and composers are expected to come up with inventive new forms of music no one can stand to listen to, but only a moron would say the genre is exhausted. There is a lot of classical music, but only some of it is truly great. There is still a big need to fill. I’m always frustrated because my favorite composers (Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, and Beethoven) didn’t leave more work, and I’m sure other people feel the same way.

Chopin actually had some of his works burned when he died. Unbelievable.

This piece isn’t done. It’s very short, and there are lots of things I may want to do with it. But it does show that things are going well.

12 31 E Minor Piece

Get connected to the power supply and see what God will do for you. I think he is leading a lot of people out of the spiritual dark ages.

Chewing Through the Straps

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

Observations From the Life of a Runaway Slave

More stuff is breaking loose in my life.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to be able to use tools. I wanted to be able to fix things and make things. A few years ago, I started making it happen. I got a table saw, milling machine, lathe, welder, and a bunch of other stuff. I’ve enjoyed it tremendously, but it seemed like I was being restrained. I was never able to make myself come to terms with CAD software, and there were essential things I chose not to buy, because I was cheap.

Over the last couple of months, I’ve returned to the workshop. I’ve spent some money; a low four-figure sum. I picked up a few little things that made things much, much easier, and plans I had put on the back burner are beginning to come to fruition.

I also got started with CAD. Og and other Internet friends gave me advice about this a few years back, and I tried a few things, but I got nowhere. It was very frustrating. I’m not going to say what my IQ is, but it’s sufficiently high that you would think mastering a piece of software would not be beyond me, and I was completely confused. I could have fixed the problem by spending tons of money on training, but I already felt a little queasy about the money I had spent on tools.

A few weeks back, I started looking at the programs again. Og had recommended Allycad and Alibre Design, and I looked into other things, like Turbocad, Autocad, and Draftsight. I wanted 3D, because I don’t need the aggravation of trying to picture a pile of 2D drawings as an assembled machine, so I ruled out simple, free programs.

I signed up (again) for a free Alibre trial, and once again, I was utterly flummoxed. I could barely draw a line. If you ever want to fully grasp the meaning of the word “counterintuitive,” try this software, or any CAD software. Alibre publishes a book of step-by-step exercises, and I downloaded a few pages, but it turned out the book is completely obsolete. It goes with a user interface which bears little resemblance to the current version and is currently unobtainable. I was going to give up and get Turbocad, plus training, but then I found the Youtube video that appears below.

That guy does everything wrong. Anyone who produces training videos knows that you go step-by-step, and you include every detail. He doesn’t do that. He flies, and he leaves things out. And it WORKS. Watching the video, I managed to draw an oddly-shaped tub with chamfered edges.

That was a breakthrough. Using what I had learned, I was able to go through the first three exercises in the Alibre book. I managed to translate the old interface into the new. Here’s a useless and unrealistic part I created (but did not design).

01 01 13 alibre exercise crank

I say it’s useless because you can’t really attach the flat piece to the handle and axle that way. If it’s a press fit, the thickness of the metal can’t go to zero around the inserted portion of the metal, and there is also nothing there to allow a real-world weld. But that doesn’t matter. I drew it successfully, so now I have a foothold in the world of CAD. I’m ordering the rest of the design book. And I bought the program, which, “coincidentally,” was on sale for 50% off this week.

This may seem unimportant, but it’s a huge leap. The actual work you do when you make things is of trivial importance. What really matters is the design. Most of the act of creation is mental. The actual cutting and welding…that’s just housekeeping. I would rather design a thousand parts and make one than make a thousand and design one. If I can use CAD, I can exercise my creativity, and I can keep the results forever.

You can do all sorts of stuff with CAD. I don’t know much about it, but my impression is that you can send designs by email, print them, use them in patent and product submissions, have parts made from them, and even send them to machines that crank the parts out for you. Compared to anything that existed thirty years ago, that is godlike power.

So I’m happy about that. And I’m getting interested in 3D printers. They make actual parts from sturdy plastic, at a cost which is not prohibitive for a hobbyist. My gut tells me that as the technology advances, ordinary CNC may go the way of manual machining. Who knows what they’ll be able to do with lasers and plasma in the future? Today it’s plastic. Tomorrow, you may be able to cut metal on a printer, in your own house. And prices are dropping. In ten years, everyone will have a 3D printer, or they’ll have them at Home Depot, to be engaged at affordable prices.

This is exciting. It gives individuals a level of control they’ve never had before. Democrats are already wetting their pants over it, because it will make home gun manufacturing easier. There isn’t one thing they can do to stop it. They can pass laws, but we all know how well gun control laws work. And the First Amendment will guarantee that people will be able to pass designs around.

Sooner or later, technology is going to make us so powerful that Democrats are going to have to give up on controlling the means and look toward improving the man. And only God can do that.

I am not interested in printing guns, but the possibility shows how powerful the new technology will be. The printing principal is packed with potential. It provides mankind with a type of leverage that rivals the mental augmentation of computers. In fact, it’s the reason computers exist. If we couldn’t print circuits, the PC would be impossible.

So the CAD thing is good news.

Here’s another thing: I’m getting more original music. I used to have a constant flow of variations on existing tunes, but I wasn’t really able to write original music. Common sense told me the same gift had to be the source of both types of music, but it wasn’t happening for me. Lately, that has changed. I get original tunes more and more often. I got several over the last few days, and they’re not bad. Composition is like cooking with sound, so if you know what tastes good to the ear, you should be able to write good music. I’m going to write some worthwhile stuff, if God stays with me.

I used to be bummed out because I didn’t receive original tunes. Now I realize there’s a new danger. Soon I’m going to receive more tunes than I can finish. What do I do then? I keep reminding myself that it’s better to waste than to want.

It’s wonderful to be able to budget and economize, but truthfully, I don’t think that’s what God intended for us. I think he wanted us to live in such abundance that things would serve us, instead of lack that requires us to serve things. If you have too much, you can focus on what you’re doing. If you have too little, you have to focus on getting more. You shouldn’t serve the dollar; the dollar should serve you. I would rather have more than I need and have to give things away or even throw them out than not have enough. It’s better to receive a hundred tunes and write three than to receive and write one.

Here’s a hard thing to accept: God is not against waste. Or at least, he reckons waste differently than we do. That’s my opinion, based on my observations. Consider the loaves and fishes. Did God pass out just enough? No, he gave the people so much, they had baskets of scraps left over. Consider Solomon. God gave him so much, he really didn’t know what to do with it. Consider the way America used to be blessed. We fed the world, and then we let crops rot, because we had no place to put them. God told the Jews not to harvest every square foot they planted. They were ordered to leave crops untouched, in case the poor wanted them. What we call “waste” is a symptom of abundance.

This principle is found over and over in the Bible. We are told that he who waters will be watered. We’re told that being stingy will make us poor. We’re told that when we’re asked to carry something one mile, we carry it two. God ordered the Jews to give up about 14% of every work week, plus holidays, in times that were very, very hard, when every penny counted. I believe we’re supposed to have and give more than we need. Otherwise, there will always be gaps that aren’t filled.

I don’t think God wants me to work hard. I think he wants me to have ample time to pray and minister every day. I believe that every hour I spend in prayer saves me hours of work, just as the sabbath made the Jews more successful. And I think God is going to give me many more tunes than I can complete. I am an heir, and this is how heirs live. Our cups run over, our yokes are easy, and our burdens are light. Or God is a liar.

I think excessive devotion to work is a Satanic notion. It seems very natural to expect people to earn things. The problem with that is that God wants to give us things that are greater than what we can earn. I believe we limit him when we insist on earning.

Think of the beggar the disciples healed. They didn’t ask him to do their laundry or make a pilgrimage on his belly. They touched him and healed him, for nothing, and he got the use of his legs back. If he had had to earn that, he would have stayed on the ground for the rest of his life.

A while back, some Obama underling told the press the Bible said, “God helps those who help themselves.” Clearly, this person was not familiar with the Bible. The Bible does not say that. It says you shouldn’t be lazy. But it doesn’t say blessings come primarily by, or with the prerequisite of, great effort. Not unless you’re cursed.

Adam didn’t earn the title to the earth or his life of ease in Eden. Noah didn’t earn preservation in the Ark. Lot didn’t earn his angelic rescue. Samson didn’t earn his strength. Gideon didn’t earn his improbable victory. These examples are shown to us to make us understand that faith, submission, and humility are what bring us blessings and power.

Offhand, I can only think of one person in the Bible who thought he had earned his blessings, and that person was Job. And God set him straight, but good.

Satan wants us to think we have to earn things. With this lie, he gets us to devote way too much time to work and way too little time to prayer. And then we don’t get what he promises. For example, you may get rich, but your family may be messed up because you weren’t around to pray for them and teach them.

Prayer is job one. I’m sure of it. Quite literally, prayer is an investment. It is the seed God gives the sower, and in your season, you will get the harvest.

I feel much freer than I did before. I feel like the restraints are being removed. In ignorance, I buried myself in curses, but God is washing me clean and killing their effects.

Spend time praying in tongues every day. Try to make it add up to at least an hour. And pray for God to guide your steps, leading you to the experiences you need to have. Good things will happen. It may take time, as a tree takes time to bear fruit, but it will happen.

“…Then the Old Guy Waves his Stick, and OUT COMES THE DANGED BEAR…”

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

They had it Coming

My former church has finally gone completely insane.

Today they welcomed Kim Kardashian. Yes, the Kim Kardashian who poses nude. The sex-tape Kim Kardashian. I don’t know if they took her into the green room so she could bless the pastors with her wisdom, but she tweeted about her presence at church, and they proudly re-tweeted it.

People are saying it’s wonderful that she went to church. Uh…no, it’s NOT wonderful. Not unless she repented. Churches are supposed to welcome REPENTANT sinners. The other kind screw churches up.

Think of it as an immigration problem. Say you live in a Christian nation, and Muslims start showing up. When there are 50 of them, it’s no big deal. When they’re 50% of the population…big deal. You’re going to have Sharia law, honor killings, an end to the pork industry, lots of terrorism…it will be bad. When sinners come to a church and don’t change their ways, and their numbers get too high, they convert the church. Not that this would be a big change for Trinity. It’s barely a church as it is.

I was furious when I heard about this. It’s bad enough that the pastor sucked up to R. Kelly, who narrowly avoided conviction on a statutory rape beef with video evidence. Do they really need to use Kim Kardashian to prove they’ve made it?

The name “Kardashian” used to be associated with top-notch legal representation. Those days are gone. Now it connotes promiscuity, nudity, stupidity, and shallowness. As the good book would put it, it has “become a proverb.” Why would any pastor be proud this person came to his church? Only a desperate self-promotor or a feckless infant could think this was a good thing.

It would be wonderful if Miss Kardashian went to a church and told everyone she regretted all the dumb things she had done. I’d be the first to welcome her. Well, actually, I think a woman should do that, just to be safe. But I would be all for it. But for her to roll in and out with no evidence of change…how is that a victory for anyone?

I really blew up about this on Facebook. The gloves are off. I said the leaders of the church clearly did not know the Bible, and I posted a long series of verses about respecting persons. The pastors are like children. It’s as though they had never heard of the Bible. This stuff is obvious to teenagers who read the word, but these adults don’t have a clue. Or they just don’t care, which is looking pretty likely.

Some lady tried to “correct” me, saying I should not “touch” God’s “anointed.” That’s sad. Preachers have succeeded in brainwashing many Christians, so they will cover up their pastors’ backslidden behinds. They say all sorts of curses fall on those who speak up. But God didn’t curse Jesus, Paul, Isaiah, Micaiah, Malachi, Peter, Jude, Jeremiah, Samuel, Nathan, or any of the other Biblical figures (or if you’re Catholic, figurines) who spoke up. If you took the negative remarks out of the Bible, the remaining text would be a pamphlet.

She said I should only correct people privately. But she said that publicly, which is a little hard to explain.

As Perry Stone teaches, there is a difference between “anointing” and “gift.” A person who is anointed has God’s authority to do some job or other. He has God’s approval. Anointing is not always permanent. God anointed Saul, and he took the anointing away. A gift is a natural or supernatural ability. It may persist when the anointing leaves. This is why truly foul preachers sometimes continue to function in their gifts. It helps explain why some very bad churches stay very big for quite some time.

Anyway, a preacher who teaches false tradition and serves his belly is not acting under an anointing. Not in my book. And because they commit their sins publicly, it only makes sense to correct them publicly. Besides, the leaders of Trinity Church know exactly what they’re doing wrong. People have spoken up. They just don’t care.

God is not going to stand up and give me leprosy for criticizing people who milk the poor and lie to them. If he did things like that, John the Baptist would have exploded. Repeatedly.

Quite honestly, I think these people are idiots. I have tried to show restraint. I’ve said I disagreed with them. I’ve said they were off the path. But after a time, you have to start using terms like “idiot.” Even Jesus did it. After a certain point, mildly critical language just doesn’t do the job. If you speak about foolish people too respectfully, there is a danger that other people will not understand just how foolish they are. “I’m going to try Trinity Church.” “DON’T!” “Why not?” “They’re…missing the mark.” “Well, I’ll just check it out.” “THEY’RE IDIOTS! THEY’RE IDIOTS! DANGER! DANGER!”

I think God takes a similar approach. He starts by sending you little hints. Then he sends people to correct you. Then he might let you get a physical illness. He might let you suffer defeat. Eventually, if you keep pushing it, he buries you in burning sulfur and pitch. Or he sends you to hell.

I wish I had never heard about this. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life reflecting on the stupid behavior of a group of carnal ministers. But there it is. And I don’t investigate this stuff. People bring it to me.

How about some positive news? Today Apostle Michael Tomasulo visited my church. My denomination, or whatever it is, is big on apostles. They seem like the real thing. They have shown up and said some very solid, very impressive things. Mr. Tomasulo is one of them.

I met him on his last visit. He’s an EE (electrical engineer). I was building guitar amps at the time, so I was really glad to meet him. I have a lot of weird interests, so it’s always comforting to meet someone who can relate. When I meet a person who shares one of my interests, it’s like meeting someone from home. Which is odd. And I can’t combine all, or even most, of my interests in one friend. I have to have an assortment. The gun friend. The cooking friend. The physics friend. The law friend. And so on.

Today he lit into TBN (he can’t stand watching it) and megachurches that teach self-help and motivational gibberish. LIKE TRINITY. He said exactly what I was saying to my prayer group three years ago. I said we didn’t need Dr. Phil and Oprah. I said motivational speakers were not what God wanted for us. He said these things today, even referring to Dr. Phil and his mothership. I saw a preacher on TBN say the same things last year (no word on whether his body has been found). God tells all of his people the same things. The church is unified, as Jesus prayed it would be. It’s just scattered. Like golden tickets in a pile of worldly Wonka bars.

Before he spoke, and before I knew what he would talk about, I put this on Facebook: “At my old church we had great motivational speakers who promised God would make us rich if we gave them money. Here at New Dawn Ministries, we have to settle for prophecy.”

Lately I’ve been getting back into tools, and I’ve started watching engineering lectures. Engineers don’t know where formulas come from. Physicists do, but they don’t know what to do with them, so I’m hoping to bridge the gap a little. I’ve been watching EE and ME stuff from NPTEL (Indian universities) and other sources. Today I decided to ask Mr. Tomasulo a few things, to see if he could steer me in the right direction. So far I’ve learned how much a truss can hold when the beams have been tempered in a tandoor.

Lo and behold, it turned out he wanted to talk to me. He remembered that I had been building tube amps. We started talking. I kept trying to tell him how much I admired engineers for knowing how to do USEFUL things, and he kept trying to tell me how much he admired physicists for knowing the root causes of stuff. Anyway, it turned out he was considering supplementing his income with EE work, and we started talking about amps. I told him it might be possible to generate some money building amps, and now he wants to come check out what I’m doing. Even if it goes nowhere, now I’ll have a friend who is almost a physicist. An EE is really not that far off. They are not the dumb engineers. What they do takes brains. They don’t seem to realize that, though.

An EE is actually more useful to me than a physicist, because a physicist wouldn’t know anything new.

We talked for quite a while, and unfortunately, his wife was standing right next to him, and she was bored so severely she required medical attention.

So here is what happened today. As a former physicist and amp builder who was recently told he had the anointing of a prophet and teacher, I met a guitar-playing EE apostle who wants to build tube amps. Tell me that’s not a weird day.

I want to introduce this guy to my dad as “Apostle Mike,” and I’ll insist he call him that. Come on. That’s irresistible. “Glad to know you, Mike.” “APOSTLE Mike, Dad.” “Uh…”

“Dad, I’m going to Five Guys with Apostle Mike. Do you want anything?”

I guess I’m stupid. That cracks me up.

But hey, it’s what he is.

I think if I could pick a job, it would be prophet. Apostles have to travel. Prophets can hang out in their garages and mess with tools most of the time, and every so often, they pop out, go to the local church, and say something that scares the living daylights out of everyone. Then they go home, and people leave them alone. It’s like Punxsutawney Phil, only holy.

“An earthquake is going to destroy the city next week, and afterward, an omer of organic dove’s dung from Whole Foods will cost as much as an Ipad 2. Plus God is going to give Deacon Fred a withered foot for playing Powerball. See you later, and stay off my lawn!”

I’m not positive my expectations are totally realistic. But it’s my understanding that a prophet can command a she-bear to eat punks that get on his nerves. That could be really handy.

Welcome to Zoar Farms

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

Where the Cows Lick Pillars of Salt

Sorry I did not come by to weep with everyone on Tuesday night. On Monday, I had a 2-phone-battery conversation with somone who thinks going into drug rehab is somehow a service that benefits ME, and I decided to get up the next day and get out of Miami.

Ocala. That’s what it’s all about.

To recap, I went to Winter Haven to help launch a new church, and I felt like a runaway slave. Afterward, I started thinking about moving north. Then my buddy Mike started talking about Ocala. Either that, or I came up with the idea myself. Can’t remember. I started looking at Ocala real estate on the computer, with the intensity of an Obama campaign staffer researching Romney’s overdue library books. I found out that you can get a magnificent farm up there for the cost of a little-bitty house in Coral Gables. I’ve been making lists and looking at Google Earth a lot.

Originally, I thought I would go alone, because I didn’t think my father would ever leave this place. Then he started coming around. That was great, because I refuse to have a mortgage, and if we both go, we can have a much nicer property.

I checked out fourteen places, from two acres to forty, if I recall correctly. If I had to describe this area, I’d say it looks a great deal like the area outside Lexington, Kentucky, only without the backwardness and bigotry. I hope. Mike says everyone got along great at the racially mixed school he went to in Ocala.

I had read that the dirt up there was too sandy for growing things, but that’s not true. I saw all sorts of hay, and people were growing stuff in their yards. It may not be the finest dirt on earth, but clearly, it works. We don’t really have dirt in Miami. A lot of this area has a few inches of white sand over oolite (coral rock), and when they build houses, sometimes they add a little muck from the Everglades, so you end up with grey sand. To plant a tree in my yard, you have to use a mattock and cut a hole in the rock. I’ve pretty much had it with our dirt.

I was able to move between properties ten miles apart in about as many minutes. As a victim of Miami, I can’t even express my joy. The traffic here is nearly unbearable, and the worst part about it is that when you finally get out of the car, you’re still in Miami.

There are actual hills up there. At one point, while driving, I felt pressure in my ears. I didn’t think that was possible in Florida.

I also enjoyed hearing English. Diversity is swell, but I get very, very, very tired of playing charades to make myself understood in the United States of America, by individuals who have been here since Carter.

People get mad at me because I can’t understand their bad English. One of the biggest night school subjects here is ESOL, or English for Speakers of Other Languages. That’s great, but they haven’t gotten around to adding UESOL, or Understanding English for Speakers of Other Languages. Funny thing, I find it easier to talk to relatively new Haitians than Cubans who have been here 20 years. The Haitians learn English very quickly, and when their English isn’t good (very rare), I can talk to them in French.

Anyway, I do look forward to saying everything ONCE.

The Romney signs…they were everywhere. I saw a few Obamas, but not enough to matter. Mike says a politician who runs as a Democrat in Marion County has no shot. I love that.

I would say the Ocala area looks, well, not hectic. I suppose it could get dull. But I don’t do much anyway, in terms of going out on the town. I don’t like movies because my feet stick to the floor and people yap in Spanish. I don’t like restaurants because I cook better than they do. Clubs…don’t even joke. I can generally be found at home, at church, or running errands. My assumption is that if I join a good church up there, I’ll have a social circle within two to three months, and after that, life will be much as it is here, only without the unpleasant sensation of being in Miami.

I saw a lot of wonderful things. Barbecue restaurants, plural. All sorts of businesses related to farming. They would be helpful to a tool-oriented person hoping to get into things like canning food and maintaining a workshop. There’s a Krystal restaurant in town. They don’t have a Costco, and that will smart, but you can’t have everything. There’s a Gordon Food Service 60 miles away. I wanted to be remote, so I shouldn’t complain.

It may be hard to find a place that doesn’t have horse paraphernalia. I am not going to have much use for a barn. I know people will say I can put a workshop in it, but horse barns are cut up into little stalls. I think it would be pretty hard to convert one. Mike says we can rent stalls to people. Basically, they would be paying to give me handy manure.

I don’t know much about maintaining rural property, even though I’ve owned a ton of it in common with family. As far as I know, you don’t have to do much with barns and land. We did virtually nothing to the farms we sold, and they held their value. I don’t want to end up bush-hogging thirty or forty acres once a month, or mowing a giant yard.

I’m going to try to put together a plan and get this done. Things are probably going to get very bad now that we have chosen Obama a second time, and if a depression hits the cities, the entitlement flash mobs will be invading houses en masse, raping, killing, and stealing. Or “stealing BACK,” as they would say. Places like Ocala will be very dangerous for that crowd. Up there, a guy with scoped rifles (and friends with scoped rifles) might have a real advantage over liberal dentists and accountants in Coral Gables. I guess it sounds like I’m planning to move so I can shoot a bunch of people. No, but I don’t want to be an easy target when the anti-Christian, anti-conservative Kristallnacht comes.

I guess I should write about the election.

Many conservatives are questioning the legitimacy of Obama’s victory. Let me give you a bitter pill. It’s completely legitimate. Unless they turn up an extremely unlikely election-rigging scam which spans many states, no reasonable person will ever be able to deny that we chose this man. We know what he is, and we want it.

People are saying he won because the media didn’t go after him. I’m sure that helped him, but his screwups have been covered fairly well. Everyone who owns a PC or TV should be aware of his failures and negative traits. People claim he won because the public has drifted left. I very much doubt it. I don’t think the public is smart enough to know what left is.

Obama won because a big percentage of the electorate is ignorant and/or not very bright. Grab a typical college graduate and ask him if he has any idea why entitlements lead to unemployment and low productivity, and chances are, he won’t have a clue. The people who decided the election were not favoring leftism. They went for the guy they liked best. They saw the debates, and they thought about things like hair and suits, and at the end, they decided Obama made them feel better.

People who are obsessed with politics think everyone worries about things like the proper level of taxation and the size of our military. In reality, the average voter votes based on instinct, which is something that exists to help creatures who lack the ability or inclination to reason.

Ronald Reagan ran against Carter. He projected confidence and charm, so he won twice. Bush I ran against Dukakis, who looked short, dumpy, and timid, so he won once. Clinton charmed female voters, so he beat Bush I. Bush II seemed less crazy than Gore and less snotty than Kerry, so he got eight years.

I know it’s not really that simple. Policies matter a little. But it’s very obvious that we are as willing to vote for extreme leftists as right-of-center conservatives, so I don’t believe substance means much.

Anyway, Obama is the President, and he is the true choice of the people, so get over it.

As to why Obama won people’s hearts, I believe the answer is supernatural. We have killed tens of millions of unborn babies (and quite a few that were born), we have turned against Israel, a huge percentage of us support perversion, we think fornication is a God-given right, and we are becoming cruel and extremely proud. We pray less than ever, and church attendance is dropping. We are becoming God’s enemies. In my opinion, our reward is national decline. God has blinded us to Obama’s revolting shortcomings, so we did something no reasonable nation would do. We chose Obama not once, but twice.

I was highly disturbed when I saw the election results. I was in a hotel room, trying to sleep, and I stupidly forgot to turn off my phone. People woke me up more than once, calling to express their horror. At some point in the wee hours, I gave up and looked at Drudge. Arrgh.

Before the election, I spent a great deal of time in prayer. I felt great faith pushing through me. I thought a Romney victory was very likely. When I saw that I was wrong, the thing that disturbed me most was not the Obama victory, but the fact that I had believed he would lose. It’s very unusual for me to have strong faith for a result and then to see something different happen. It affects my relationship with God. I will never doubt him or criticize him, but a failure like this makes me reevaluate the things I do in my walk of faith. Am I praying correctly? Am I interpreting what I feel correctly? Is there something else I should be doing? If I’m wrong about this, what else am I wrong about?

I believe God sometimes sets his seal on things. By that, I mean he decrees that a thing will be done, with complete finality. He doesn’t say “if” or “maybe.” It’s done. Period. I believe he reveals this to some people during prayer. Sometimes the rush of faith that follows a request is so powerful, it’s overwhelming. There’s no way to deny it.

This happened to me back when an ex-girlfriend was filing nutty lawsuits against me. One day I was praying in my truck, and a wave of faith hit me, and I grabbed the console between the seats because I felt I would be pushed over if I didn’t have something to hold. After that, I knew I was going to win, and I was right. On top of that, I asked for very specific things in the last two hearings, and I got them.

I’ve also had it happen with regard to other things I’ve asked for. I asked God to do everything within his power to get my father and sister to accept Christ, be baptized with the Spirit, pray in tongues, be freed from their iniquities, and live in power and blessings, and my faith told me it would be done. God didn’t say they would change; he just said he would do everything possible. They still have free will.

I have found that usually, a strong rush of faith that doesn’t reach the threshold of a sealed answer will still get the job done. But sometimes–I think–a small amount of doubt is enough to sink the ship. I think that’s what happened with the election. I felt great faith, but I also felt something pushing back, and I wasn’t able to get to the point where doubt was completely destroyed. It may sound like I’m giving a lot of importance to my prayers, but my religion tells me the prayer of one man held the sun still in the sky, and I am not willing to limit God.

I think that in the future, I’ll have to be careful not to conclude that something is sealed when it isn’t. I also think that when I’m not sure a thing is sealed, and it’s an important matter, I should continue in prayer until I get resolution. That’s my take for now, anyway.

For a long time, I’ve prayed for God to bless and empower Christians, not America in general. I won’t pray for America’s success because America has been harmed by false prosperity. When things go well, we do what the ancient Jews did. We turn away from God, credit ourselves, and sink into sin. I see that happening around me, so I have prayed that God would bring down ungodly people who are in power and strengthen believers. I believe this will help people turn back to God, where they will work to achieve his ends. They will work as they were intended, with his authority, to increase his kingdom in the earth. I think the Obama disaster is God granting prayers like mine. Like the Hebrews who feasted on quail till they puked, we’re going to feast on our own conceit. God will give us the incompetent, dangerous leaders our egos tell us we need, and they will lead us over cliffs until we repent. That’s my best guess.

God is taking away the things we believe in. He is taking away every stable investment. Stocks are shaky, and Obama’s tax changes will kill them. Gold is volatile. Real estate could plummet again at any time. Even cash is sinking. Thanks to Bernanke’s backdoor socialism, if you sell your risky stocks and put the money in the bank, you still lose value. It looks as though a time is coming when everything we cling to will turn on us, and unless we have a good grip on God, we will sink.

This is why I like the rural-compound-with-no-mortgage idea. Little properties in places like Manhattan and Coral Gables are only valuable in good times. They have no real value. A Park Avenue condo, for example, is a tiny box with no soil, even if it costs ten million dollars. Right now it’s valuable because there are a lot of people who have money. When things go bad, people won’t want little boxes. They’ll want acreage, so they can grow things and defend themselves. Bernanke can wreck the dollar, but he can’t dry up your well or prevent potatoes from growing in your yard.

I keep meeting people who have Ocala connections. Mike was the first. I went to church and mentioned it, and I found out that one of the armorbearers already owns 20 acres there and wants to move, but his wife won’t let him. He has a carry permit, and he’s learning to can! One of my best friends, a former armorbearer, is married to a woman who has family in Marion County. She has wanted to move there for a while now. The other day, I mentioned the idea to a friend who used to be part of my prayer group at Trinity. He goes to New Dawn now. He says he went to high school in Ocala. To me, these things seem like confirmation.

I think God is probably going to protect Christians in the years ahead. I think we will do better than ever, while the country sinks. I think Israel will also prosper. America is abandoning Israel, and God never will, so he will find other ways to bless his nation. If Christians and Israel do well, it will serve to ground persecution. No surprise there. We’ve been told to expect it.

When I say “Christians,” I mean charismatics who really know God. I don’t think he’s going to do much for people who don’t have the Holy Spirit, because they don’t hear his guidance as well. They say 20 million confused people who claim to be evangelicals voted for Obama. I think that should tell you how lost a so-called Christian can be.

If I learn anything new, I’ll let you know.

Can of Bliss

Monday, October 29th, 2012

The Big Bad Wolf Would Need a Plasma Cutter

Does anyone who reads this blog know anything about what it’s like to live in a metal house?

I ask because I was fooling around on the web, and I found a couple of insane properties in Texas. Around 25 acres. Metal buildings with living quarters (drywall, wood, etc.) built into one side. One of these places has a 2800-square-foot shop. I’m…I’m…it’s hard to breathe…losing consciousness…argghff…auugghfff…Rosebud…

This is north Texas. I don’t know much about it. Looks somewhat wetter than Dallas, which would be good.

If you don’t know what I mean by “metal building,” I am referring to the kind of building car dealerships use. Big steel arches hold it up, and the sides are steel. I’m wondering if there would be problems in the living area.

I’m not taking this too seriously, but man…all that for $117500. It’s like I dreamed it.

First Shalt Thou Pull Out the Holy Pin

Friday, October 26th, 2012

Truck Gun Progress

I don’t know what traditional Christians think of evangelicals and charismatics, with our backyard bunkers and gun collections. I assume they think we’re pathetic and insane. I guess when they come to this blog and see posts about prayer alternating with photos of rifles and reloading tools, they assume there is no possible way I could know anything about the real Jesus. The touchy-feely, Oprah-in-a-Jewish-man’s-body, probably-gay, warm, fuzzy, Jesus who never, ever criticized anyone and always wanted us to be nice.

Can’t do anything about that. Anyone who has ears to hear should already be aware that the Bible really says, “You shall not murder,” not, “You shall not kill.” Anyone who knows anything about God should be completely comfortable with Christians serving in the military and shooting our enemies. By now we should all realize that Jesus was not always nice, and that when he returns, he is going to kill a whole bunch of people (not for the first time).

I’m not saying a Christian should dedicate his life to becoming a killing machine, but increasingly, people who are close to God are getting close to guns. And criticism and rebuke have always been part of the Christian life.

With that, here is what’s happening with the truck gun. I found a foregrip on Amazon, with a 1″ hole for a laser or flashlight. It came with a light (no way to avoid that), but once the light was removed, I was ready to install the laser.

It’s all mounted and ready to shoot now. Photo below.

There is a tiny bit of flexibility in the laser mount, but that’s not a foregrip problem. It’s a Hogue handguard problem. Hogue makes its handguards out of the same flubber it uses to make pistol grips. That means the handguard can flex a little. Not a brilliant idea, when it’s used to mount stuff that needs to stay still. I may replace the handguard. I’ll be eating maybe thirty bucks, but you live and learn. Better to do it right than save a few pennies.

The flexibility isn’t bad enough to cause a problem. It just bugs me. I can’t really detect any dot motion related to the foregrip flexing.

I thought I’d have to use the laser’s pressure switch, which is on a wire with a springy, coily bit in the middle. I figured I’d cut a hole in the mount somewhere, run the wire through it, and mount a better switch on the end, attaching it to the handguard.

I found out this was not necessary. The laser came with a totally pointless (but solid) aluminum cap, and when you install it, the laser is always on. When you back it out a couple of turns, the laser operates when you press on the cap. I installed it this way. The laser is enclosed in the mount, so the cap can’t unscrew and cause a problem. The mount has a button on it, and when you push it, it presses a doodad against the back of the laser, turning it on. Perfect. Or nearly so. If I put the button part of the cap on the lathe and turn down the flange that goes against the ring part of the cap, I’ll be able to tighten the ring and still use the button.

I like this, because it will work better than the scary pressure switch, which sometimes fails to go on when I push it, and it will save battery life, because it will go off when I release the button.

The bad part is that I can’t change the battery without removing the laser. I’ll have to re-zero it a lot. But it only has to work for like twenty seconds in a gunfight, so I’m okay with that. The battery doesn’t have to have 90 minutes of charge in it every day.

Overall, this is a very cool and economical solution to the vehicle security issue. The rifle is $440. The laser is about $50. The other junk can probably be had for $100. It’s as cheap as a Glock, and it should be way more effective. I just need to put some earplugs in the truck.

The gun is a little heavier than the Vz2008 I considered, and I assume the shorter barrel will cost me some fps, but 2300 fps, 30 rounds, and good short-range accuracy should be a great combination.

I’ve been trying to come up with a good container for it, so it will pass the “securely encased” law. I’m thinking I might just find a cheap flat cardboard box. Believe it or not, that’s completely legal, and it will look really boring to gun thieves. Maybe I’ll find a box with lettering on it and repurpose it. “What kind of idiot keeps a Scrabble game under his back seat? And look at that crappy stereo. Forget this truck.”

I know the serious right-wing conspiracy nuts say you should never talk about your guns on the web. What can I tell you? If you have them, one way or another, Uncle Sam will be able to find out about most of them. I’ll cross the registration and confiscation bridge when I come to it.

Still thinking about Ocala. Yesterday I got stuck in traffic THREE TIMES, and I got so mad I nearly drove to Ocala last night. I wanted to look around. I may go in the near future. It’s funny, but suddenly I know several people who want to move up there. A friend from church says he owns 20 acres there, but his wife won’t let him move, because she hates the country. Meanwhile, he’s learning to can. Today another friend said his wife has family up there, and she wants to go, but he’s stuck here because of his job. And then there’s Mike, who used to live there.

I’m starting to feel like this is confirmation.

When Romney wins, the price of real estate may shoot up. Real estate is an investment, and under Obama, people are afraid to invest. It would be nice to avoid getting stung in a post-Obama bubble.

Anyway, life is neat. And to all the appalled gay-Jesus Christians, all I can say is “BOO!”

Out of Haran

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

You Can HAVE This Place

I guess I’m on fire these days. I’m blogging AGAIN, even though I blogged once today.

I have a testimony. I always have a testimony, though. Back at my old church, when the volunteers met in the morning, there were always two people who had testimonies. I was one, and the other was a young guy who sang with the worship team. I guess people got tired of us.

I hate living in Miami. I always have, except for a brief period after law school, when I made a determined effort to fit in. People are incredibly rude here. It’s too hot for a person who likes shooting and working with tools. You can’t grow anything, because the lots are small and the topsoil is six inches deep. The traffic is like something out of a Terry Gilliam movie, if he made movies about traffic. This city is a known hub of homosexual activity. We have nude beaches. We have a yearly celebration where thousands of people go out in the bay and have sex in public. We even have voodoo, including santeria. This is no place for a decent person to live.

My new church opened a place in Winter Haven, and I went up there with a team of people who were helping the place get off the ground. I loved it. My blood pressure plummeted. I felt relaxed. The people were nice. There was lots of open country. There was no traffic. There were Romney signs everywhere. It was like heaven. I started Googling real estate in that area.

Since then, I’ve gotten interested in Ocala. You can get a nice five-acre property near Winter Haven for a very low price, but in the Ocala area, you can get ten acres, and the selection is better. The people are just as nice. There are lots of good churches. The soil is fantastic. The climate is even better than it is in Winter Haven.

My buddy Mike used to live up there. His dad had a thoroughbred farm, and Mike ended up buying in the area. I’ve been picking his brains. He says it’s paradise. Anything you throw in the dirt grows. You can shoot guns in your backyard.

Here’s the problem. My dad is 80, and he’s at the stage where he shouldn’t be alone in Miami. My sister lives here, but she’s in far worse shape than he is. He likes the idea of leaving Miami, but he prefers the Cocoa area. He has a huge boat, and he wants to live on the water. If he sold his Miami house, he could have a palace in Brevard County, with no mortgage.

I don’t want to live in Brevard County. I don’t feel God pulling me that way. Aside from that, the lots are smaller, the soil isn’t as good, and I think it’s gradually becoming polluted with the worldly crowd that has infected Orlando. They say Orlando is not much better than Miami now.

I’ve been praying about this a lot. When a potential disciple told Jesus he wanted to wait until his father was dead, Jesus told him to let the dead bury the dead. Often, you have to move forward alone, as Lot and Noah learned. But you shouldn’t give up too early.

I refuse to have a mortgage. I can do all right with my own resources, but if my father goes with me, we can have a place that would be out of this world. There are lots of properties near Ocala that have more than one house, or what are known as mother-in-law apartments. Many of them have detached workshops. Talk about bliss. I’d be able to look after my dad, I’d be away from Miami’s nasty people, both of us would have privacy, and I’d have a real workshop where I wouldn’t have to trip over things and move things around all the time.

It looked like there was no hope of getting my father to consider moving inland, but I’ve been praying a great deal (mostly in the Spirit), and the other day, he started talking like the Ocala area might be a good choice. Now I’m looking at bigger homes. I won’t even consider less than 20 acres. With the low land prices up there, there is no point in settling for less.

It’s going to happen. I know it. God has set me free from this miserable city. I richly deserved my sentence, but it’s coming to an end.

Prayer in tongues made it happen. I’ve been cranking it up lately. Things are falling into place. In nerdspeak, I feel like I’ve been held captive in a potential well, and now I’m over the hump and being propelled out.

One of the best things about prayer in tongues is that God uses it to order your life. He uses it to plan and build your future. We don’t know which way to turn, because we see so little. God knows everything. He knows exactly what we need and what will make us happy. He fully intends to give us blessed lives. If you pray in tongues enough, you’ll see it start to happen.

I’ve seen some really wild properties. One is a former airport. It’s a long lot; about 20 acres. Most of it is a grass airstrip. It has a house, a caretaker’s cottage, and TWO beautiful hangars. One has a magnificent shop area. The floor is concrete. I salivate when I look at the pictures. Another is some kind of horse-training facility. As it happens, Mike knew the owner. He knows the place. He says it’s gorgeous. It has a bunch of outbuildings and a big detached garage. I have no idea what we’d do with the barns, but that’s not a dealbreaker. And it’s 48 acres. It’s the Sofia Vergara of homes.

If we don’t get one of these places, there are dozens of others. Most of them have horse-related crap on them, but we can deal with that. I can’t imagine what life would be like, living among good Christian people who vote Republican. It would be a foretaste of my home in the hereafter.

I’ll blog more when I know more.

Bach to my Future

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Breakthrough has me Butchering Standards

I have a new music teacher.

Longtime readers will remember that I bought a grand piano in 2003 or 2004. The main purpose was to learn about music so I could compose, but I ended up learning to play a few things and focusing too much on becoming a musician. After a few years, I quit. I forgot things as soon as I learned them, so at any given time, I had a repertoire of four songs. And I could not sight-read well or write music competently.

A couple of years back I started working on the electric guitar. I built most of a Telecaster, and I built a few amps. I worked on sight-reading and other skills. I went through two teachers. I got to the point where I could play a few things, but I wasn’t any closer to composing.

I started looking for a real teacher. Someone who really knew what he was doing. I checked out Craigslist, the center of all knowledge and enlightenment (after Wikipedia and Fark). I found a guy who wrote long, opinionated ads. He seemed to be truly disgusted with virtually everyone else who claimed to teach people how to play the guitar. He explained why their methods were a waste of time and money. He provided wordy insights into his personal philosophy of music teaching. Stuff I didn’t really need to read.

I was impressed. He reminded me of me.

As I told him later, I like opinionated people. Some are opinionated because they’re just stupid, and I’m not real fond of that group. But others are opinionated because they have had it up to HERE with BS. I figured anyone passionate enough to write an ad like that was someone I needed to meet.

Eventually, I called for an appointment. He wouldn’t give me one! Instead I had to talk to him for about half an hour, explaining my goals. Then he made me spend a week writing down goals and influences. I had to create two Word documents and send them to him.

Finally, I was cleared to go for a lesson. I drove all the way to Davie, and when I knocked on the appropriate door, an enormous human being answered. At first I thought he had to be standing on a box. But no, that was all him. We shook hands and got started.

The lesson went like this: I showed him what I knew, and he told me it was wrong. Then I showed him something else, which I was really pleased about, and he told me that was wrong, too. By the end of the lesson, I had learned that I was doing the following things wrong:

1. Playing position
2. Guitar position
3. Right hand position
4. Left hand position
5. Holding pick
6. Fretting
7. Picking
8. Foot tapping
9. Breathing

I think there were some other things I was doing wrong, but I can’t remember what they were. As far as I could tell, there was not ONE thing I was doing right.

Here’s something weird: he seems to share the personality of my buddy Aaron. If Aaron were a non-Jewish musician, he’d be this guy. It’s freaky how similar they are.

He gave me an exercise straight from hell, to enable me to stretch my left hand, and he told me to play the same scale a billion times in different positions, at glacial speed. And home I went.

I worked on this crap for two weeks, and the net result was that I was no longer able to play the guitar. I mean, I could not play ANYTHING. My fingers missed the frets. I forgot entire passages. My left hand was in constant pain, because I was using a couple of shriveled muscles I had never used before. It was bad. But I had faith, because he seemed to know absolutely everything there was to know about music. Plus he once spoke on the phone with Billy Gibbons. I was sure I was headed for a wax on, wax off moment.

My third lesson was last week. I could not play a thing, but we spent a very long time talking. This is how the lessons go. I barely touch the guitar. We discussed the correct mindset for making pizza. We covered our mutual disdain for Prince. And after a while, we got onto conservative politics. I told him it was hard to hold the guitar the way he had told me to hold it, because it rested on my pistol. From there, we moved into a discussion of things like labor unions and Chick-Fil-A. He’s way out on the right, which probably explains why he’s not a famous musician. He has played in some worship bands.

Last week, we got off on sight-reading and composition. He told me something I had never heard before. He said it was a mistake to start with sight-reading. He said I should start by transcribing things. I told him I would try, but that the software was a pain to use. He told me the problem was that I was using software in the first place. He said I should transcribe things on paper. That had never occurred to me. In the past, I tried to compose things on the computer so I could play them back immediately and check them out.

A day or two later, I decided to try transcription. But I hate transcribing on the guitar. So I sat down at the piano with some blank paper, and I started working on “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” in C major. I was amazed at how much I knew about music. I thought I had forgotten it all. I managed to write and play a very coherent version, and then later I made up a left-hand part.

You can’t imagine what a breakthrough this was for me. When I first started studying the piano, it was because I had music in my head, and I could not write music fast enough to capture it. It drove me nuts, especially at night. I’d lie in bed with wonderful original music playing in my head, and it would keep me awake for an hour and a half. When I started transcribing, I saw that there was finally some hope that I could save some of it.

I texted my teacher with a question, and he called me up. I told him I had bad news. He had driven me back to the piano. He didn’t care. He thought it was great. He helped me out with a few clues, and I fired off some files by email, so he would know what I was up to.

I am accomplishing squat on the guitar, but I’m finally getting a grip on music writing. And I learned something else: the software isn’t so bad, if you write the music on paper first. You use a pencil, and then you have a stationary (or stationery) target. The notes are written down, so they don’t vanish while you’re cursing Finale’s horrible interface.

I’ll post a MIDI file, so you can see what I’ve done so far. I’m thrilled with it. I’ll write more variations, but as far as I’m concerned, this is a wonderful start. The left hand part reminds me of Bach, and I’m no Bach fan, but I’ll take it.

Over the Rainbow Transcription

Now I have hope that I’ll succeed at this, so I have new motivation to go forward. And the music in my head is back. I laid awake for quite some time last night while variations of “Sweet and Dandy” roared through my mind. On the one hand, it was annoying, but it was also intoxicating. I know I can do this.

God is a restorer. If you’re on the wrong path, he may put roadblocks in front of you, and when he’s ready for you to succeed, he can remove them so fast, you won’t believe it. You may have a problem you think is insurmountable, but the answer may be a change you can make in five minutes. If someone had given me the right advice about music in 1998, I’d have a pile of original compositions by now. The advice was all I needed.

I’m practically beside myself, thinking about the things I’ll do. I feel like I’ve been turned loose in a toy store.

I know this will go somewhere. Sooner or later I’ll come up with something fit for use in a church. It’s only a matter of time. That will be a huge milestone.

It’s more evidence that prayer in tongues straightens out paths. The more I do it, the better things go. I knew this in 1987, but I didn’t get serious until about five years ago. So much time wasted. Since then, the progress has been continuous.

Try it yourself. You have nothing to lose.

I Received no Consulting Fees for Writing This Blog Entry

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Plus a Pork Tour de Force

I should be working on my amp cabinet, but I just can’t. I’m high on pork.

I made an impulse buy at Costco the other day. How shocking. They had two pounds of smoked pulled pork for eight bucks. How could I turn that down? Besides, I think I would buy a leaky bag of anthrax spores if it said “Kirkland” on it.

Today I decided to prepare it.

I was considering putting it in a calzone. It would work as lechon asado, so I could make pan con lechon with Swiss cheese. That’s an unbelievable sandwich. Or I could experiment: BBQ pulled pork calzone.

In the end, I went with Texas toast.

I made a loaf of homemade bread, which takes about four minutes of work. I threw some cole slaw together, and I bought a baking potato, which I nuked (cheating) and then stuck in the oven to finish. I made my own BBQ sauce, and I sliced an onion.

I fried the onion in some old beef fat/peanut oil I used for fries. I used cast iron. I tossed the pork in, flambeed it in Jack Daniel’s, and tossed it with sauce. I fried two slices of bread in butter, which is just plain wrong. Then I sat down and ate.

Oh, man. I can’t describe it. As sold by Costco, the pork is not quite as good as pork you smoke on your own. But it’s more than adequate. It’s tender, and it has a nice hickory flavor. The stuff I put in it just melted into the meat. The bread was crunchy and drippy and buttery and yeasty. I think I may faint.

The cole slaw was also a cheat. I bought shredded cabbage and carrots in a bag and added my own stuff. I don’t think it makes much difference. I can’t shred cabbage any better than a factory can.

The potato was not quite right, but the wonderful thing about potatoes is that screwing them up can make them better. This one ended up with parts that were a little too chewy, and it may sound stupid, but they were wonderful. If I were cooking seriously, I wouldn’t go near the microwave, but this was just lunch, and the potato was great.

This sandwich was so good, it was sobering. Sometimes food makes you giddy. When it’s really good, it’s almost scary. It will make you serious. It will make you wonder how good food can get. That’s the situation I am dealing with today.

I can’t believe God lets me cook like this. What is the purpose? I can’t eat it all. I threw out a lot of my lunch because you can’t eat like that and expect to live.

I have an idea. My new church is thinking about feeding the poor. I’m all for this, and I’ll help, PROVIDED they do it right. There is no reason the poor can’t have the best food in Miami. The cost of food has no relationship to the quality. It’s all in the preparation. I’m thinking pulled pork sandwiches might be a good way to go. At most, the pork will cost $1.50 per pound. Homemade bread is almost free. Sauce ingredients aren’t expensive. Neither is slaw. For three bucks a head, we should be able to pretty well stun the poor, as well as the volunteers and anyone else who comes around.

We would need a couple of chafing dishes plus a big propane skillet. That’s about it.

Speaking of the poor, I learned something about a local nonprofit today. My old church has a charity wing. I know someone who went to them for help. He claimed they sat him in front of a computer and showed him links to places that could help him out. Did they give him money or groceries? He said no, although he had given money to the church in the past.

In the recent Pentecost fundraising drive (“Five Victories of Pentecost”), the leadership said they were going to give the special Pentecost offerings to the poor, via their charity wing. I ran that by my dad, the non-Christian attorney. He said, “So he’s paying HIMSELF.” The conflict of interest was not subtle. If you run a church, and you ask the congregation to give money to a charity, and you run the charity, and the charity pays you, what are you really doing? Maybe you’re not taking any money out, but what if you are? Shouldn’t donors be told how much and for what?

Out of curiosity, I Googled, and I came up with a PDF of some Canadian government documents. They say the church’s charity wing lost its nonprofit status in Canada in 2010, because they failed to respond to requests that they open their books and show that they were doing what charities do.

Okay, let’s be fair. This could be irresponsibility. This would not be a big surprise, given what I have observed personally. So far, what I’ve said doesn’t prove dishonesty. But here’s something one of the letters said: “The Organization’s only expenses for the period under audit were for non-charitable ‘Professional and consulting fees.’ The Organization did not report any expenses in support of the ‘ongoing programs’ as described in question C2 of its T3010s.”

You run an outfit which is supposed to be a charity; it’s supposed to give stuff to the poor. But as far as the Canadian government can tell, ALL–not some–of your expenses are for “Professional and consulting fees.”

You can see why it disturbed me. “Consulting” is a good excuse for organizations to funnel money to people who don’t really do anything of value. Michelle Obama made huge money “consulting.” And I think it’s fair to assume that none of the fees mentioned by the Canadians were paid to the poor (who are rarely hired as consultants). If a charity pays consultants, yet it gives nothing to the poor, what, exactly, is the point of the consulting? What are the consultants helping them do? Consultants are supposed to give advice. I think the obvious suggestion would be, “Stop giving all of the money to consultants and professionals and give something to the needy.”

Other websites say the charity received six figures a year. How can all of that money go to consulting and “professional” services?

Maybe there’s a legitimate explanation, but it doesn’t look good, does it?

A full-blown grifter–a charlatan with no intention of doing anything but getting rich–might leave a trail just like this. Money in, no services provided, and lots of expenditures for vague “fees.” So while the PDF doesn’t prove anything crooked is going on, if something crooked WERE going on, it would not look much different. I have decided to show the PDF to some friends and see what they think.

In any case, it shows I was right to quit giving them money. A long time ago, I realized they asked for money and then told donors nearly nothing about how it was spent. By “nearly nothing,” I mean I did not receive accountings showing how much money was taken in and how it was spent. I cut them off, apart from church offerings. I found transparent, trustworthy ministries and charities to give to.

They didn’t tell me where the money went. That’s bad. Reputable charities send out reports accounting for their donations. But failing to cooperate with the government of Canada…that’s another level of bad. It shows they don’t deserve money from anyone. If they’re that irresponsible or incompetent, how can you expect them to spend their money effectively?

What if they’re really helping the poor? Shouldn’t they keep books that prove it? What’s the down side? Jesus told us we were to keep quiet about giving, but he was referring to individuals, not ministries. Besides, before Pentecost, the pastor got up and told the congregation he and his wife were giving a thousand dollars in the Pentecost drive. Obviously, he is not concerned about hiding his good deeds.

This isn’t the only nonprofit that keeps things quiet. Kenneth Copeland refused to open his books when Congress came calling. On Youtube, there’s a video in which Copeland explains that Congress is full of evil people who do Satan’s bidding, and that he, as God’s representative on earth, is not accountable to them. That’s not really what he said, but it’s not that far off. If he’s not open with Congress, he’s not open with his donors, either, because if the donors had the information, it would have been impossible to keep it away from Congress, so he would have complied.

How can anyone give money to a man like that? What possible reason could he have for refusing to tell retirees and people on disability what he does with their money? He is incredibly wealthy. It didn’t all come from penny stocks and brilliant commodity trades made on a pastor’s salary; I guarantee that. Why won’t he tell us how he got where he is?

It’s sad, but Christians are so brainwashed about submission to authority, they can’t see it when the devil himself walks up the aisle and picks up the collection plate. Jesus said we should be as harmless as doves, but he also said we should be as wise as serpents. A man who won’t explain himself to his flock has no business handling other people’s money.

I pray for God to help the leaders at my old church get it together, but I also pray he throws them out and brings better pastors in. I hope they improve, but I don’t think the congregation should suffer while they learn. They’ve had a long time to get it right, and it’s not right for thousands of people to have poor leadership just so a few folks can hold onto their jobs.

My faith tells me God is replacing them, and as I have noted before, the scuttlebutt is that the head pastor is on his way out. I didn’t hear about that until after I prayed for the leaders to be replaced.

In other news, my latest amp now almost has a home. Here’s a photo.

I am not a great upholsterer, but it looks wonderful. I don’t know how to handle the inside corners in the ivory panel. I am considering experimenting with a heat gun. The vinyl will have to be stretched, if the job is to look professional. As it is, I may have to mask it with some sort of metal or plastic things I screw into the corners, over the vinyl.

The amp sounds magnificent. I can’t stop playing it. It sings. I still have some 120 Hz hum to get rid of, but it’s not bad enough to be a major concern. Once I get it fixed, I’m moving on to my 4-EL84 version.

Stay away from that Costco pork. I am just now starting to come down.

More

I’m really not sure what’s going on. I have been re-reading the Canadian government’s documents, which you can find here:

Link to Canadian gov’t documents.

The organization that had its nonprofit credentials revoked is headquartered in Miami, and it belongs (or belonged) to the head pastor of the church. But it doesn’t have the name the church’s charity wing uses. The Canadians were puzzled by this, too. In trying to get information, they looked at the current charity’s website.

Now I have to wonder: is it even the same outfit? Is it possible they let this organization lapse (irresponsible, but not inherently crooked) while setting up the new one? That would explain why they ignored inquiries from Canada.

If we were talking about a responsible organization like The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, there would be no questions. They publish and mail an annual report to their donors, and it accounts for all of the money they receive. I know Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein’s salary, because of that report. With my old church and its affiliates, who knows? Maybe they generally let people look at their books, but for some reason, they decided to shut Canada out. Maybe everything they do is legal and ethical. I have no idea. I don’t recall receiving any annual reports.

The organization the Canadians disqualified used this language in describing its purpose:

[T]o evangelize and educate young people and their families regarding drugs, suicide, and moral values

That doesn’t sound like what the current charity is purportedly doing. As far as I know, they occasionally round stuff up and send it to Haiti, and as I’ve said, they refer poor people to organizations that give them assistance. So maybe it’s a different body entirely.

Here is how the charity’s website describes its activities:

When a person in need enters our office we will immediately hear the person’s need and respond with appropriate resources. Often the response will be a referral to another resource. [Italics mine.]

Anyway, I don’t want to be unfair. The church’s charity has one name, and the organization in the Canadian documents has another, so they may be different entities, and it is completely possible that the church’s charity is doing more for the poor than I suspect.

Will, but no Grace

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Emmanuel Goldstein, at Your Service

Today someone accused me of being homophobic. And he (or she) was very nasty and rude about it. I made a joke about “trying not to feel gay” in a fabric store, and this person ordered me to keep my “homophobic” comments to myself!

In a way, it’s funny. Obviously, the remark was not hostile toward gays. If it is, La Cage aux Folles (“The Bird Cage”) and Will & Grace are hateful, as is The Ambiguously Gay Duo.

In another way, it’s not funny. The accusation itself was hateful, and it reflects the increasing boldness with which the enemies of Christianity are spewing their rage.

Satan managed to kick the Holy Spirit out of the church around 1700 years ago, and for centuries, the church was no real threat to him. The power was gone. The courage was gone. Look at the lists of the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit. All those things were gone from the church, except in piddling quantities. We were disarmed.

A little over a century ago, the Holy Spirit returned, in spite of our foolishness, and since then, Christians have been getting more powerful. Not all Christians. Only the charismatics. We should have realized God was preparing us for battle. The world is becoming a sea of filth. Humanity is turning against real Christians. Without the power of the Holy Spirit, the imbalance in power would put a quick end to us, and to God’s assault on Satan’s kingdom.

Now we have homosexual “pastors.” Not just the closeted kind we’re used to seeing. They are out in the open. We have “scholars” who twist scripture in order to justify perversion. The Old Testament and the New Testament condemn homosexual activity, and contrary to what the revisionists say, the criticism isn’t just directed to acts performed in rituals. It is a blanket condemnation.

It’s surprising, but it’s starting to look like this is going to be one of the biggest weapons that will be used against us when martyrdom returns. When unbelievers gas us and shoot us and loot our homes, this will be one of their excuses. Many of them will call themselves “Christians,” and they’ll say they’re doing God’s work. I guarantee it.

Do I hate gays? Of course not. Could anyone hate Nathan Lane or that kid who played Doogie Howser? I know some people feel visceral anger because other people are having gay sex. I don’t feel that way. When I was young, I thought homosexuality was perfectly fine. I have never felt rage toward gays. I admit, homosexuality can be funny, and the picture of two men entwined in passion will always be amusing to me, but that’s not hate.

Gays themselves realize how funny they can be, as The Bird Cage and Will & Grace prove. They joke about themselves constantly. Joking about feeling gay in a fabric store is not evidence of hate.

That doesn’t matter. People who point these things out will be told that the issue of whether a joke is hate depends on who made it. By that standard, all Christians (real Christians who do not endorse homosexuality) will be considered guilty, and persecution will be excused and encouraged. The presumption of guilt will not be rebuttable.

Here’s a funny thing about causes. People use them to justify cruelty and viciousness. Think of the PETA nuts who throw blood on women. Lots of people are against harming animals, but only a few use that conviction as an excuse to cause suffering. Homosexual rights constitute a cause, and that cause is already being used to ground hateful words and actions. It will get worse.

Today someone pointed out a scripture to me. Revelation 21:6. In it, God tells us the cowardly will “have their part” in hell, which is a lake of burning brimstone. Who are the cowards these days? Seeker-sensitive Christians. The people who let homosexuality (and positive thinking and cult methods and greed and…) into the church.

That’s sobering.

Hell is a hard thing to understand. The Bible doesn’t speak clearly about it. We know it exists. We know certain supernatural beings will be tormented in it forever. We know ordinary people will be placed there. What isn’t clear to me is whether it’s permanent for everyone. The Jews believe hell is a place where people go to be cleansed, and that we will not be punished forever. I’m inclined to believe that, and it makes me think there will probably be many self-proclaimed Christians there.

We know God punishes Christians. The Rapture will only take some of us, and the rest will be here during the Tribulation, when God’s ameliorating presence will be gone from the earth. If God would permit that, I don’t think it’s a big stretch to say some of us will suffer after we die.

If that’s right, it would make sense of Revelation 21:6.

In any case, you don’t want to be cowardly. Displeasing God and helping his enemies are bad things to do, with serious consequences for you and your house. The world is rapidly polarizing, and you don’t want to end up on the wrong side. God is the worst enemy you can imagine. There is absolutely nothing you can do to escape his anger, if he is determined to make you suffer.

How are we going to stand, when society changes and we are seen as parasites and troublemakers? When our Kristallnacht comes, how will we get the courage to affirm our Christianity before the mobs?

The answer is the Holy Spirit. He puts God’s character in us, little by little, as we pray in tongues, fast, read the word, and strive to listen and obey. Peter denied Jesus three times, after seeing him work miracles. That was before he received the fulness of the Holy Spirit. After Pentecost, he became a different man. He watched the Romans crucify his wife, and then he followed her, and all he had to do to survive was to renounce Jesus. Only the Holy Spirit could account for the change in him.

You can’t stand without the weapons and armor of God, and if you check the book of Ephesians, where these things are described, you will see that it refers to prayer in the Spirit. If you were born brave, that’s wonderful, but most people aren’t like that. God’s help is available, and we are expected–required–to accept it.

These things may sound crazy. So be it. I’m going to die, and it’s not going to be that long, because I’m already middle-aged. I can’t concern myself unduly with what people think of me here on earth. I have my future to think about. You are dying, too. You need to ask yourself how much you are willing to pay for temporary peace and approval from misguided human beings.

Corruption is already in the Spirit-filled churches. We teach greed and pride as though they were virtues. Other garbage will creep in through the cracks we have already made. One of these days, we’re going to see someone like Joel Osteen stand up and say he was wrong about gays or abortion or some similar issue. People who want to fill stadiums (and their pockets) will make up whatever lies they have to. They never cared about the flock. The desperation that drives them will eventually take control, unless they get into the Spirit.

Joshua was given to us as a symbol of Spirit-filled believers. He went forward to possess his inheritance–his place in the Promised Land–and before he did, he said this: “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” You are going to make a choice, even if you do so by refusing to choose. You will be rewarded, with good or evil, depending on that choice. I say go forward with the Spirit. You can’t make it on your own, no matter how many positive thinking preachers you listen to.

Let the dogs bark. What’s right is right, and foolishness will not stand forever. Better to be slandered and insulted now, by simpletons, than to be blamed justly by God himself.

Homosexuality is wrong. If that looks like hate to you, it’s in your mind, not my heart. I don’t hate gays, gamblers, drunks, prostitutes, the greedy, the gluttonous, potheads, or anyone else who harms himself through iniquity. Believe it or don’t. God shares his power and his help with me every day, and he helps others through me. I am not giving that up so I can be your pal.

Winged Victory

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Little Box Full of Smoking-Hot Soul

I finished my latest amp.

This thing is called the Wingman. It’s a Fender Bassman preamp coupled with the output section from an amp called the Little Wing.

The Little Wing was created by an Internet forum dude who calls himself “Da Geezer.” It’s supposed to be a sort of small Bassman. It has two 6BM8 output tubes, and it dissipates 7 watts. I wanted more juice, so I built an amp with 4 tubes and two output transformers. Why two transformers? Because I failed to take the impedance into account. Going from two tubes to four, I messed things up, and by the time I knew it, I already had one output transformer on hand.

I mounted the transformers incorrectly. I got too close to the work, and by the time I pulled back and saw that the laminates on on OT were co-planar with the power transformer laminates, the holes were drilled. But there is a test you can do to determine whether this does any harm. You connect the PT to 120, and you hook a speaker up to the OTs. If there’s a problem, you will hear hum. I didn’t hear anything, so I knew I was okay.

I wanted to put a post-phase inverter master volume (PPIMV) on it. This is a potentiometer that allows you to reduce the signal from the coupling caps to the output tubes. It lets you run the preamp at full blast, without sending a huge signal to the output. In other words, you get the nice sound of a preamp working hard, without the incredible loudness it ordinarily causes.

Because I had four output tubes, I ended up with two PPIMV pots. This is probably unnecessary, but I wasn’t sure, so I didn’t take a chance. It seemed to work fine when I ran everything through one pot, but pots are cheap, so I bought two.

I machined the chassis out of 6-inch aluminum channel. I used the mill to make the holes. While I was doing all this, I realized I needed end mills exactly the right size for tube sockets, and I managed to find some on Ebay. Next time, the tube holes will be a wonder to behold.

I put the amp together, and it barely ran. I got oscillation and low volume. I fought with it for days. Finally I realized I had the output tubes wired up wrong. Each coupling cap has to go to both OTs, and I had it rigged up the other way.

When I fixed that, I found that the bass had a sound sort of like a synthesizer. I went through the amp, adjusting voltages. The Bassman uses a 355-0-355 PT, and this amp has a 275-0-275 job, so the preamp voltages were pretty low until I got rid of the Bassman-sized resistors.

I also had to adjust the cathode resistor on the output tubes, since I was running four tubes into one resistor. The Little Wing has one resistor for two tubes.

Even with all this work, the amp did not make me happy. The bass still sounded off, and the amp did not have the clarity I wanted, also, when I cleaned up the wiring, I got noise, including heater hum.

People said I needed a bigger PT, so I ordered one. The 6BM8 tubes suck a ridiculous amount of current.

I went back to the drawing board, and I reviewed some stuff I had learned about heater wiring.

The heaters on amp tubes run at 3.15 VAC. They generate 60 Hz radio waves. If you don’t run the wiring corrrectly, the amp picks up the waves, and you get hum. A well-known guru named Merlin Blencowe says you can’t have heater-wire loops around the tubes, which is the easiest way to do it. With 12AX_ tubes like the ones I used in my preamp, that means you have to run the wires across the tube bases. This is what I did. Stupidly, I would guess. A lot of people don’t bother, and their amps don’t hum.

It turned out I had gotten too close to the work again. I had made an obvious mistake. There are jumpers and resistors across the preamp tubes on this amp, and if you use heater loops, you can put the jumpers and resistors right down on the socket. This is what I did. Unfortunately, the heater wires were there. So I had a resistor lying ON a heater wire, and two jumpers running very close to other heater wires.

So I fixed that.

Strangely, it improved the amp in ways beyond the hum. Now it’s clear. The high-frequency noise is gone. It’s beautiful. Like a little Bassman, with less low-end grunt.

With the PPIMV, you can get all sorts of singing distortion. If you were quick enough, you would be able to play this thing without a distortion pedal. You can crank the volume and turn down the PPIMV to get loads of distortion with no volume increase.

It’s a very bluesy-sounding amp. Exactly what I wanted. It’s hard to stop playing it. It impressed me so much, I went back and stuck a PPIMV in the Bassman.

I’m not going to need the new PT, so I may use it to make a four-EL84 version of this amp.

Here’s the latest photo. I might actually put a cabinet on it. I got the normal and bright volume labels mixed up.

I may let my new church use this one. They have a cruddy old solid state Crate. I was talking to one of my friends–the new head deacon–and he said they might actually want to use me as a guitarist. That would be phenomenal. Lead is out of the question right now, but I might be able to do rhythm in a month or so.

I love the new amp so much, I’ve been working up arrangements and practicing more. It’s great for any tune that brings out the sound of the amp. I worked on “Secret Agent Man” today. Lots of grit and reverb. It may be corny, but I like it.

We’ll see where the amp business goes from here. I can’t wait to get started on the next one.

Joyful Noise

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

Plus Negative Feedback

The new amp is done, except for some soldering and the installation of the cord and fuse.

I think it came out very well, given that I started with a piece of aluminum that had been banged around in a metal dealer’s establishmen. Here’s a photo.

If you’re an amp guy, you will see a potential problem there. When you work on projects like this, it’s easy to get too close to the work and forget what you’re doing. I accidentally mounted one of the output transformers in such a way that the laminates are coplanar with the power transformer laminates. Supposedly, this can cause a coupling effect, so the 60 Hz buzz from the AC goes out through the power tubes.

I don’t know which way the bobbins inside these things are oriented. The wire coils inside go around bobbins, and the magnetic fields generated by the transformers are parallel to the axes of the bobbins, as they exit the metal. I think. That’s what my physics background suggests. I believe the fields would be strongest at the ends of the power transformer bobbins, so if it’s pointing at the OT, it could be bad. But maybe it’s pointing the other way, which would be okay. Maybe.

I have found out about a way to test for hum. Before you put the amp together, you stick the transformers in place, and you connect the OT to a speaker or a set of headphones. You connect the PT to an AC source, and you listen to see if it makes the headphones hum. If so, you have to move the OT around until it stops. I guess I’ll do that tomorrow.

I feel like writing some more about my new church. I have been a little reluctant to do that, because it has been suggested to me that certain people at my old church are under the impression that positive remarks about New Dawn are “Trinity-bashing.” I hope that’s not true, but if it is, they’re going to have to hitch up their diapers and take it. There is only so much I can do to avoid offending them, short of wearing a muzzle.

Last week I suggested a friend of mine visit the new place. I’ve already covered some of this in posts I took down. He didn’t fit in at the old church, and he was part of the little circle of people who were excited about prayer in tongues. The Holy Spirit worked a shocking change in him after he started praying in tongues regularly, and he started getting all sorts of revelation. A number of people noticed it. Anyway, he was in a slump, and I thought the new place would suit him.

When I got to church on Sunday, he had already been there for 50 minutes. He said he already knew the pastor. He also had relatives all over the church. His nephew was an usher. He had been there before. I didn’t know any of this. I just thought he would do better there.

The pastor preached on John 15 and Matthew 7. In John 15, Jesus said he was the vine, and that branches that didn’t abide in him would be cast into the fire, and in Matthew 7, he said false prophets would come and take advantage of the flock.

Let’s see if I can remember the important points.

The pastor said the bit about casting people into the fire was not about us. It was about the false prophets. He said God “pruned” us, as a gardener would prune useful branches to improve the yield, but that he would not discard us. That makes sense to me. We are taught that it’s pretty hard to lose salvation, but we also know that if we pray in the Spirit, God will change us from inside and help us bear fruit.

False prophets, on the other hand, are not part of the vine, so they may be cast aside. Makes you wonder about Steve Munsey’s status, since he is clearly making up doctrine that makes him money, serving his own belly instead of the Lord. I assume he’s a Christian, but you never know.

He also taught about Luke 16, in which Jesus told us that if we were not faithful with other people’s things, God would not give us our own things. He said he had worked in other people’s ministries, and that he had been faithful, and that now he had his own ministry.

Naturally, I wondered if he was going to say something indicating that my friends and I had blown it by not sticking with our old church, but on the contrary, he said that if you can’t be fruitful under one man’s ministry, it’s time to pack up and move to another.

My friend Alonzo had moved to New Dawn before I had. He and his wife were sitting across the room when the pastor said the bit about packing up. I looked toward them, and she was looking at me and my other friend. We were all thinking the same thing.

Later in the service, the leaders were getting into prayer and prophecy. There was no tightly scripted service at this point. If you’re Spirit-filled, you know how a minute-by-minute schedule can prevent the Holy Spirit from working. They were calling people up, and somebody called Alonzo and his wife.

For a long time, they have wanted to have a ministry helping people with marriage. They want to write a book on God’s advice for couples. When they met me and learned that I was a writer, they asked for my help. At the old church, they had tried to work in the new ministry for couples, but their ideas had been shot down. I’m not saying they were right or wrong, but they were shot down.

While they were at the front of the room, the prophecy started. They were told they were going to have a ministry for married people. They were told that God had not given up on them. The message seemed to be, “You may have thought you were going to be be ignored forever, but I’m going to bring you through this.”

That was amazing. They’ve had some really tough times, and they’ve had to deal with rejection and discouragement, so they needed to hear that God was still with them. And the pastor had no way of knowing they wanted to run a couples’ ministry. He hadn’t seen them in two weeks. They weren’t planning to join the church. He barely knew them.

There is one other person I’ve been trying to bring to New Dawn. He’s a musician. He’s looking for a place where the Holy Spirit is free to act. While I was standing around after the service, the music director came over and asked if any of us were musicians. They’re recruiting! So now I had some ammunition. God saw the need, and he put this tool in my hand.

Since Sunday, I’ve been Facebooking, as usual. The Holy Spirit keeps doing great things in my life, and I write about it. I write about the power of tongues. Guess what? The pastor has been “liking” my statuses. He believes the same things I do! I had no idea. It’s so strange to have my doctrine ENDORSED by a pastor. It’s like the first time I watched Fox News. I thought something was wrong, because they weren’t slanting the news way to the left. I thought it was a momentary aberration, but eventually I realized they were different.

My new pastor really believes in the Holy Spirit. When he posts on Facebook or writes on his blog, he says things I agree with. I don’t have to hide and scurry around by the baseboards. I can say what I know, without worrying about what people will think.

I know he thinks like I do, because when he thinks he’s not getting a good response from the crowd, he’ll call them “this Methodist church” or “this Baptist church.” He’s kidding, but I know what he means. He means we shouldn’t be like backward churches that teach salvation but stop short of the Holy Spirit message.

I sincerely believe that while my old church is nominally Assemblies of God, which means “kooky charismatics,” in practice and belief, it’s closer to the Baptists or Presbyterians. If you say God healed you miraculously or did some other supernatural work in your life, people in authority don’t seem to buy it. They preach that God will work miracles in order to give you a huge return on your tithes, which isn’t true, but other than that, they don’t seem to think he’ll do much for people. They teach self-reliance. Very strange.

I got an interesting revelation about the Holy Spirit. Jesus told us that you can be forgiven for speaking against the Father or the Son, but that those who spoke against the Holy Spirit would not be forgiven. Here’s what I believe God told me.

God told ancient people about the Father, and some did okay with that, and others fell away. So he sent Jesus. Some went forward with Jesus, and others fell away. Jesus asked the Father to forgive those who put him to death, because they did not know what they were doing. When Jesus left, he sent the Holy Spirit. This is all God has left. There is no fourth manifestation. Every Spirit-baptized charismatic knows about the Holy Spirit. When the churches persecute and exclude and slander him, as they do, daily, no one can say, “They know not what they do.” If they reject him and lie about him and suppress him, while speaking in his name and fleecing the sheep, they will have no excuse, so they will be judged.

Churches are teaching that tongues are of the devil, or that they are just “evidence” of the Spirit’s presence. They deny Paul, who made it clear that prayer in tongues builds us up, and who linked the Armor of God to prayer in tongues. They are depriving people of the only means of receiving improved character (the fruit of the Spirit) and supernatural weapons (the gifts of the Spirit). As a result, people remain in what the Bible calls “iniquity” and “lawlessness.” The Holy Spirit isn’t powerful in them, so they don’t receive his guidance, so the law is not written on their hearts. They don’t have God’s GPS.

Some Christians teach that you get the whole Holy Ghost package as soon as you accept salvation. That’s just plain stupid. Martin Luther believed, yet he hated Jews. Is that the fruit of the Spirit? Jimmy Swaggart is a charismatic, so he has received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, which puts him one step beyond mere salvation. Does he strike you as a person whose nature is like that of God? Is he mature? Is he even honest? Of course not. Kenneth Copeland is a charismatic, and he’s downright mean. So where are the fruit and gifts of the Spirit, which these people and many other carnal Christians supposedly received in full measure?

Don’t even try to tell me they’re supposed to TRY. If it comes from human effort, it’s not the Holy Spirit. Anyone can try. The fruit and gifts of the Holy Spirit have to be more than that.

Jesus taught us that the Kingdom of God was within us, and that it grew gradually, like a mustard tree. He also called tongues “living water.” What do trees need in order to grow? Use your head.

I think the big lesson here is that no matter how easy God makes it, we will find a way to rebel. Sadly, the most influential rebels run the churches of this world. That may be about to change. God is patient, but we may be about to see a little judgment.

Following the Two Spies

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Relief is in Sight

As usual, too much is going on to write about.

First of all, I finished the JTM45 clone I was building for my friend Joe. The JTM45 is a Marshall amp which is a pretty faithful copy of the Fender 5F6A Bassman. The version my friend chose uses KT66 tubes, which are fundamentally similar to the Bassman’s 6L6s.

We had a number of problems. He bought a Mojo Tone chassis, and it didn’t fit the Classictone transformer he chose. I’ve been getting help from amp builders, and they have convinced me that Mojo is not a good place to get chassis. The cutouts and round holes are not well thought-out, so you can end up with things that don’t fit.

To make the power transformer work, I had to enlarge and move the existing opening, and I had to machine (from scratch) an aluminum spacer to connect the transformer to the chassis. This was a lot of aggravation, but the result was beautiful. Looking at the amp, you would never know the transformer didn’t fit. I’ll repost a couple of photos.

I also had a problem with one of the power supply capacitors. The JTM45 is a box of components that sits in a wooden cabinet with a flat bottom. The box is supposed to rest directly on the wood. But Mojo predrills holes that situate the capacitor below the box. It projects down out of the box about half an inch. This is just crazy. There is no way on earth to make it fit the cabinet (which Mojo makes). Last week I got the amp running, and Joe brought me the cabinet. I had never seen a JTM45 cabinet before. I just assumed there was a way to make it fit. But incredibly, there was not.

We looked at the chassis for a while. I loosened the screws holding the cap, and I swung it up out of the way. It fit perfectly. Here is the mystery: why didn’t Mojo drill screw holes that put it in this position? I thought there had to be a reason, but I couldn’t see it.

I got out a punch, and I made two dimples on the inside of the box. Then I used my Jobmax right-angle drill, some WD40, and a nice cobalt drill bit to make two new screw holes. We screwed the cap in place, and everything was fine. What a relief. If it hadn’t worked, we would have had to use different capacitors, or I would have had to undo a bunch of wiring and move the cap across the box.

We put the amp together, and Joe fired it up. The sound is incredible. Maybe as good as the Bassman. It’s clear. It’s pretty quiet. It’s sweet.

We had some noise problems at first, and that scared me, but it turned out the JJ 12AX7 in V1 was the issue. Evidently these tubes are inherently noisy. Joe put a Tube Amp Doctor 12AX7-SC in there, and the noise dropped, and the amp also sounded better. It had a sweeter, creamier tone, somewhat like a 12AY7. Lesson learned.

Here are a couple of photos I took that day.

The other guy in the photos is Zach. He’s a blues guitarist. He wants to build a Trainwreck clone.

I’m not totally sure what my next project will be. I want to build a Bassman-based amp with 4 6BM8 output tubes. A guy who calls himself “Da Geezer” designed a 6BM8 amp called the Little Wing, and it’s based on the Bassman, but it lacks the second channel and added inputs. It’s limited to 7 watts because it only has two output tubes. He says I can put the Bassman front end back and add extra tubes so I can have more juice when I want it.

I’m also looking at a wrecked Fender “The Twin” red-knob amp. This is a 100-watt amp with a switch that cuts the power to 25 watts. They were not popular, but they’re very good amps. I found one on Craigslist for $200. It needs about $320 in parts to get it working. I’m considering offering $50. I don’t think anyone else will buy it. It’s too messed up.

It’s nice to be able to rebuild and redesign basket-case amps. It really doesn’t matter what I buy, because I can turn anything into a good amp.

I’m also considering moving to a new church. One of my buddies–the head Armorbearer at my church–had some issues he had to address. His wife is a very nice lady, but she felt my church was too cliquish. She couldn’t really connect, even though her husband had a position of prominence. This is not a big shock. Our church tends to promote young, good-looking, hip people, as well as people who make money or have connections. There is a big concern with what’s cool and trendy. And it also helps if you can do something the church really needs. I don’t think she fit in the desired categories. She’s not an MTV type. So she may well have been excluded.

She found another church, and she started attending, even though her husband was still volunteering at Trinity. I started hearing good things about it. Lots of prayer during services. Focus on the Holy Spirit. No yammering about self-help and money. I envied my friends, but I thought the church was near their home, up in Coral Springs. I was not going to drive that far. Also, even though I’ve become completely disconnected from the teaching at my church, I have strong attachments to the people, and while I wasn’t receiving much from the church, I felt fulfilled with regard to giving and interacting with others.

Now my buddy is done with Trinity. He’s cutting ties and moving. And this weekend, he told me the church is in North Miami. I was shocked. How could I have been unaware of this? It’s a shorter drive than the one I make now. When I heard that, I felt like a weight slid off my back and a door opened before me. Maybe God had been preparing this place for me during the months when I was praying for a better church.

I had assumed that God wanted me to stay at Trinity for at least a few more months, and I was content with that. I love the people. It’s not like I’m miserable there. But it’s wonderful to know I may be able to get out sooner. I’m visiting the other church this weekend. I have very high hopes.

Ending a relationship is funny. Until you make the decision to quit, you may not realize how much you’ve wanted out. I still remember dumping a maladjusted girlfriend when I was in law school. Before the breakup, she didn’t seem all that terrible, but after I pulled the plug, I realized what a mess she was, and how annoying her nasty side could be. I had stifled those thoughts when we were together, in order to make it work. I guess the same thing happens when you leave a church. You realize it’s okay to feel relieved, so the stress just melts out of you without warning. Suddenly you feel like you’re standing straighter.

I can tell you what I look forward to.

It will be nice not to have to hear Steve Munsey’s self-serving money-based doctrine. There are no authentic lists of “seven blessings” associated with giant cash offerings at Passover, Pentecost, and Yom Kippur. That’s something he made up, and we hear about it all the time. Jews never had to give big cash offerings on the feast days, and they were never promised “seven blessings” in return. If your church is in debt, the answer isn’t manipulation, legalism, Judaizing, and gimmicks. The answer is to please God and obtain his help. My church can’t get prosperity the way we’re supposed to, so we’re trying to do it the Munsey way. And it doesn’t work. We still have debt.

It will be nice to be able to talk. Kids run our sound and media department, and a young, headstrong pastor is in charge of them. That means we hear obnoxious disco music even between services. It drives people crazy. Many, many people complain about it. People come to church and leave on the first visit because of it. It’s probably killing our growth. The new place has loud music, but they shut it down after worship, the way you’re supposed to.

I look forward to having my freedom back. If I were doing what was demanded of me, I would be serving at two services on Sunday, attending a Saturday service, attending a volunteer “DNA” meeting once a month, attending a 6 a.m. Armorbearer training session once a month, serving several days in a row at our yearly Rendezvous conference (for which I would be expected to buy a ticket), serving extra days when asked (with short notice or no notice), and cooking on demand. That’s too much. We’re told we have to tithe our time. Well, I pray two to four hours a day. That’s 14 hours right there, minimum. I guarantee I spend at least 16.8 hours a week with God. So anything I give my church is above the tithe. And prayer is much more important than anything I do at church.

I’m hoping I will never have to hear the word “VIP” again. It’s disturbing that I ever heard it in church. We reserve seats for holy people like Luther Campbell and Tim Hardaway (a basketball player). We chauffeur visiting speakers around, and it’s understood that we’re not supposed to talk to them too much, because…they’re VIPs. Which makes you wonder what we are. I call us “VUPs.” Figure it out.

We have actually had secure areas for VIPs, with special food other people can’t have. Aren’t VIP areas for strip clubs? Am I crazy? Why would you have one in a church? I can understand having a place for people to put their feet up and collect their thoughts. But that’s not the same thing. We have never had a lounge for volunteers, even when we worked 15-hour days.

I hope I’ll actually be able to talk to a pastor once in a while. And I don’t mean talking about volunteer work. I’d like to KNOW these people. Right now, I don’t talk to any of our pastors. They’re busy. Half the time, they’re on planes or staying in other cities. And they have no interest in talking to me. They say hi and so on, but when I go home at the end of a service, I know for a fact that I won’t have any communication with a pastor for seven days.

I would like to know that I won’t be badgered for money. Christians talk a lot about tithing. Here’s a terrible secret: God doesn’t require us to tithe. Preachers hate hearing that, but it’s true. Tithing comes from the Jewish law, which does not apply to us. It’s a good IDEA to tithe. But really, you’re supposed to develop a relationship with the Holy Spirit, and you should give (or withhold) as he directs. I am really tired of being goaded. Every Sunday, we put a pastor on the stage to give a pitch, and they tell us God will give is a big ROI. I realize we have a lot of cheap people who need to learn to give, but if we introduced them to the Holy Spirit and helped them grow, the giving would come naturally. We wouldn’t have to jawbone them like reluctant car buyers.

I want to hear about the Holy Spirit, and I want to experience his presence in church, as I do at home. I’m tired of backward self-improvement nonsense masquerading as doctrine. I can’t believe we let Brian Klemmer come to our church and teach the same stuff they used to teach at EST seminars. Find that in the Bible for me. I’ll give you a hundred years to look it up.

I guess this is a horrible thing to say. Brian Klemmer came to our church (selling expensive secular self-help seminars), and he told us he had a 500-year plan for his life. As a Christian, he had plans for what he would be doing hundreds of years into the future. I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but can anyone seriously believe that right now, he’s working on that plan? He died from a torn carotid artery a while back. Is he really in heaven, carrying out a plan his tiny human brain made, in a place he could not understand when the plan was made? Is anyone stupid enough to believe that? But we sat there and lapped it up.

I know there are no perfect churches. But not all churches are sick. There are ministries you can support and be part of without feeling like a sucker.

The main thing that bugs me about my church is that I can’t recommend it to people. New people come in, and I’m glad they’re trying to get to know God, but I know they’re headed for some serious disappointments if they stay. I have friends who get discouraged. I can’t tell them to stick it out. Not in good conscience.

I’ve been praying for the church to change, and my faith has been telling me it will, but I still think I’m leaving. I think a bunch of us will leave. Two Armorbearer families are gone. I’m on the way. If it works for me, I’m going to go after my friends who are discouraged. Maybe the heart of the church will leave, and that will provide a much needed wake-up call that leads to restructuring under new leaders.

Man, I look forward to dropping the loads I’ve been carrying. I want to be in a church where I can support what they’re doing. I don’t want to bite my tongue all the time. I don’t want to have to tell my friends what they’re hearing is wrong, or that they’re right to feel used or mistreated.

I told the Armorbearers I would not be in church next week. I have learned not to ask permission. I informed them I would not be there, and I said it would be nice if someone filled in. One of the young guys volunteered. I’m covered. At our church, there’s a lot of pressure to show up and work, as if it were a job, so we really feel like we have to get approval to take time off. I managed to get over that.

I may not be able to wait for Sunday. There’s a Tuesday night service. While the kids at my church are dancing to secular music and trying to hook up, I may be at a normal church service.

Here it is, the week after Passover, and I may be on my way from a place of profitless servitude to a place where I can work for God. How appropriate.