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Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

This is my Stop

Monday, August 21st, 2017

The Armed Compound is a Reality

Today I’m trying something new: golf cart blogging. I’m in the woods east of my house, sitting in my E-Z-GO, drinking an Arizona Watermelon cocktail. I have the laptop with me, and I’m using my phone as a router.

I’m typing during the eclipse, which is on the way out now. I did not make any effort to observe it, but when I walked out of my dad’s hospital, I noticed that the sun was casting thousands of crescent-shaped lights on the sidwalk. To see an eclipse, you look down, not up.

Traditionally, eclipses have been considered bad omens, and lunar eclipses have been considered particularly ominous for Israel. I don’t know if it amounts to anything. I have not seen a correlation. I find eclipses themselves kind of dull, but it’s neat to see how the world becomes darker while staying sunny. I remember seeing that when I was a kid.

My dad is in the hospital because he refused to wait for me to give him his prescriptions two days ago. I already wrote about this. We were leaving a hotel in Kissimmee, and I asked him to wait by the car while I got the birds. They were in travel cages in my room. He wanted to take his pills, and I told him he needed to let me get them for him. When I got back to the car, he had a bag of bottles in his hands, and he was taking things. I had to pull the bag out of his fingers to get him to stop.

The next morning, in the new house, he came to my bedroom and said he didn’t know where he was.

I thought he had had a stroke, but it looks like he took the wrong dose of one drug and slowed his heart rate down to the point where it affected his thinking. I learn new lessons all the time, and now I’ve learned I have to keep his prescriptions in a special place.

The day we left Miami, he insisted he was not going to give up driving. He said he was perfectly able to find his way around the neighborhood. He was adamant. He was angry. He got in the car and tried to go to a Wendy’s about a mile and a half away. I didn’t see him again for several hours.

I used a phone app to track him, and I saw that he was several miles north of Coral Gables, driving in random directions, as if he were using dice to choose his way. I ended up chasing him down with the app. I found him near Northwest 79th Street, which is about 12 miles from where he should have been. Instead of leaving reasonably early and taking a leisurely drive to Ocala, we ended up leaving late and checking into the hotel in Kissimmee at about 1 a.m., and needless to say, a lot of loose ends down south remained loose.

I took the car keys, and I figured things would be okay, and then came the pill incident.

The movers didn’t finish putting everything where it should be. As Miami’s final slap in the face, the moving company sent three Cubans who did not speak any English. The job called for six, at least one of whom could communicate. They finally left at about midnight, promising to come back in a few days. Will I see them again? Search me.

I have one friend in Ocala, and she has been a godsend. When I texted her about my dad’s hospital stay, she drove to the hospital on her day off to visit him and see if he was okay. This gave me time to buy towels and some other things we needed. When I caught up with her at the hospital, she showed me where the Wal-Mart was, and I loaded up on waste baskets and so on.

Her ex-husband is a lawyer. Well, that’s not true. He used to be a lawyer. He stole a lot of money from two clients, and he is currently a guest of the state, awaiting final sentencing. Long story. She and I kept each other laughing with tales of our dysfunctional families. For example, we discussed the time her 350-pound great aunt got in the bathtub against everyone’s advice and got stuck there, and then insisted my friend lift her out.

The ex-husband is a strange case. The videotape of one of his hearings is online, and I decided to watch it. The judge asked him about his education level, and he said, “nineteenth grade.” What can you say about that? You’re talking to the person who decides how much time you get, and you decide to make a joke? I would not have made that choice. It may explain why the judge denied his motion to withdraw his guilty plea. He could be looking at 10 years or more.

The house, shop, and grounds are wonderful. The shop is going to be big enough for all my tools, and it’s already set up with a security system, a powered garage door on one end, and a chain-driven roll-up door on the other. It has a nice porch outside, with a swing and 4 plastic Adirondack chairs. When I experience failure and frustration with my tools, I can go out there, sit in one of the chairs, and sulk in the shade.

I have endless room to store my junk, so for the first time in years, I will not have to worry about clutter. I can’t get over that.

The area is like medicine to me. The people are polite. Nearly everyone speaks English. I see Trump stickers all over the place. The traffic is a joke. The landscape is very pretty. I can’t wait for the August heat to die down so I can enjoy Marion County even more.

I have some stress related to my dad’s little surprises, as well as the movers’ interesting business methods, but other than that, I have peace here. I’m trying to get used to the fact that everyone isn’t angry at me, the way they are in Miami. I was right about that place. It wasn’t me; it was Miami.

My friend Travis called and said he had a dream about me. He’s house sitting for me. He said he dreamed an angry hag tried to get into the house. At first, he didn’t know who it was, but it turned out to be my sister. That makes sense. She has been used against me all my life. Whatever it is that drives her is probably not pleased that I’m out here living among Christians.

Travis has had prophetic dreams before, so this one could be legit. He’s very concerned because so many of his strong Christian friends have left Miami. He thinks something bad is going to happen. Of course, something bad has already happened. It became Miami. How much worse could it get?

I guess I should fire up the Mach 5 and get back to the barn. In a month or two, I should be able to blog out here in 70-degree weather. That will be something. Maybe I’ll have some rifle targets to show you.

Expect more move-related posts. This adventure is just starting.

The Liberation of A. MacMoofing

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

GANGWAY!

If you want to have a thrilling experience that will leave you gasping, don’t buy a wingsuit and jump off Mount Everest. Hire movers to move your grand piano.

Today I watched movers turn my piano on its side and roll it outdoors. It’s like watching nurses play catch with your newborn child. Anyway, they seem to know what they’re doing.

Of course, the movers are doing more than I required in the original estimate. I’m handling everything myself, so it was not possible to get every possession packed. The cost went up a few hundred dollars, and it may go up more tomorrow. C’est la vie. That’s what money is for.

I still can’t get used to the idea that I’m leaving this miserable city. Day after tomorrow, I will be in MY house, in northern Florida. I won’t be a tourist or a guest. I’ll be a resident.

It’s frustrating, trying to do things in the right order. My tools are on a truck right now, so all the things I wanted to do with tools this week are not possible. I needed tools to prepare some things for the move! I had to rely on the movers and their pathetic tools. My lathe has a wooden tool shelf on it, and the shelf has to be removed for the trip north. The shelf uses special bolts. They’re not original to the lathe. I keep the originals in one of my rolling tool chests. Guess when I remembered that? After they started moving my tools into the truck. Thank God they hadn’t taken the chest yet.

Whoops. I have to get up and let them pack crystal. I’ll be back.

I have started to think there is no intelligent, efficient way to move. My obligations in South Florida are a bit screwed up, and there is nothing I can do about it. People are just going to have to show me a little patience. Or drive 300 miles to see me if they want a confrontation. By the time they get there, I should already have the security alligators trained.

I had to move in the most cloudless, blistering, glaring August in history. I hate to say anything that might make a global warming nut puff up and crow, but the sun is about an inch from the ground today. I actually had to walk around it to get to the car. It’s one of those Augusts when the sun follows you in the house. You sit in the air-conditioned shade and feel the sun’s heat and glare through the walls. Even when you close your eyes, you want sunglasses.

I feel like Miami is angry at me for leaving, and I suppose it is. There are big, filthy spirits assigned to various geographical areas, and I’m sure the ones that run Miami enjoy the suffering I endure here. I think they’re turning it up to punish me for going AWOL. It seems like people are ruder and more crass than ever this week. More people turning in front of me without turn signals. More people running yield signs simply because Carlos the Random Miamian and his leased Range Rover are more important than I am. More traffic backups. Papa John’s sent me a guy who could not say three words of English. I’m so busy I debase myself by ordering Papa John’s, and they rub it in by sending me an illegal who can’t say, “Twenty dollars and forty-two cents.”

That is some bad pizza, by the way. Really revolting. The cheese is fake (look up the ingredients), and they put about half an ounce of each topping on the pie. Flour and tomatoes are nearly free, so of course, that’s what Papa John’s sells you. Anything even slightly costly they dole out in tiny amounts more suitable for snorting than eating. They might as well chop the toppings into lines and serve them on a mirror.

At some point tomorrow, my dad’s TV will be packed. I do not look forward to that. He is not good at dealing with minor inconveniences. He was already bored with 800 channels. Now he will have…0 channels. That means he will be 800 divided by 0 times as bored. And we won’t have cable until next week. I may check into a motel by myself and claim I was abducted by aliens.

The flying saucer kind, not the lawn-mowing kind. Although for all I know, Salvadorans are already sneaking over Neptune’s border.

I found out I can use my cell phone to stream Youtube to my TV in Ocala. That’s really something. I can barely send a text message here, and the Internet is slower than Morse code in Ocala, but the phone service up there is so good I’ll be able to watch Youtube. Explain that to me. The phone should be lightning fast in Miami, and it’s not. The Internet should be faster than 1.5 MBPS in Ocala, but it’s not. The cell service in Ocala should be pretty slow…but it’s not. Whatever. As long as I can watch my machining channels with breakfast, life will be good.

Who am I kidding? Life will be magnificent. I’m not going to be in Miami! If I get bored, I’ll hop on my golf cart and tour the grounds with my AK-47. I’ll go lift something with my tractor. I’ll go for a drive! You can do that in Marion County! You can drive for pleasure! Unless you count riding my motorcycles at night, I haven’t done that since maybe 1990. Maybe I’ll just go to McDonald’s and ORDER IN ENGLISH!!!!

“I want two McMuffins.” “Ehhhhhhhhhhhhh…joo Juan A. MacMoofings?”

I’m going to change my name to A. MacMoofing.

Water. I should drink some water. I’ve been drinking it all day, and if you will excuse me for being indelicate, it’s all intake and no output. Too much work. Too much heat. I think it’s affecting my brain. I need to pump some water into it.

I guess I’ve wound down enough. Time to stop writing.

I may be able to write something tomorrow, and then again, I may not. If this is the last blog entry I ever write from this county, let me take the high road and say I will always try to remember my experiences here without heaving. No promises.

What’s that Noise Behind us?

Monday, August 14th, 2017

Just the Apocalypse

I’m starting another day of preparation to move, and it looks like it’s happening none too soon.

For a long time, I’ve been predicting an upsurge in persecution against Christians, white people, men, and conservatives, and it’s manifesting in a way that surprises even me. We just saw a vehicular murder in Virginia, by a purported white supremacist, at a rally convened by his kind. The left ignores the widespread and prolonged wave of beatings and murders white Christians and conservatives have endured, but they are seizing on this rare act of terrorism as though it proves all of their paranoid fantasies are justified. People are predicting “unrest” in other cities, and of course, that means riots, looting, arson, and violence against white people.

I wish I did not have to mention race, because it makes me sound like a white supremacist, but the truth is the truth. Leftist nuts aren’t picky about their victims. They don’t check ID’s and vet backgrounds. If you’re white, Christian, or conservative, you’ll do. I mention race because it’s the primary means by which victims are selected. You can be a strident Hillary supporter and be yanked out of your car and beaten just because your white skin makes you look like a Trump voter.

Americans don’t know the Holy Spirit, so they have no roots to hold them in place. We are stupid and fickle. We blow with the wind. We listen to every foul spirit that whispers to us, and we are very, very quick to change our positions on things. A few years back, the vast majority of Americans were against gay marriage, and no one cared about the Confederate flag. Now people are being fired from their jobs for refusing to support gay marriage, and no one seems to think that’s bad, and you can get a beating for having a stars-and-bars bumper sticker. People will actually say you were asking for it. This is happening in the same country that had a Dukes of Hazzard movie a few years back, with no issues.

We are a heartless people. By that I mean we have no core and no guts. That makes us extremely dangerous. If you think there is no way the masses could turn on Christians and start beating and killing us in the streets in the near future, think about what we’re already doing to those who don’t toe the PC line.

Miami is a rotten city. It’s full of ghettos, like a body full of abcesses. Between the ghettos, there are big swaths of Cubans, and Cubans have a real problem with blacks. Sooner or later, this place is going to light up. I don’t want to be here when that happens. I don’t want to be here today, for that matter.

When things heat up here, it won’t be pleasant for Hispanics and whites. Stopping at traffic lights will be dangerous. Living near ghettos will be dangerous. Being black around Cuban cops will be dangerous. When the people with no roots start tearing at each other, I want to be elsewhere.

The Holy Spirit is the only dependable source of morality and restraint. The alternative righteousness offered by the godless life is just a thin scab over an infected wound that can erupt at any second. If you don’t have the Holy Spirit to anchor you, you can believe or do anything, no matter how stupid or evil it is. Most Americans, including most Christians, never hear from the Holy Spirit. They listen to Oprah and movie stars and dope-addled musicians. They think “nice” and “righteous” mean the same thing. They’re like the big banyan trees that fell over during Hurricane Andrew. They were huge, sprawling trees with wide root systems, but when they fell over, people could see that the roots were only a few inches deep. Typical Americans will torment and kill whoever the devil tells them to. Don’t doubt it. It’s coming. It already happens in ghettos, and evil that succeeds first in ghettos eventually spreads to the rest of the nation. Look at rap, crack, illegitimacy, and marijuana.

The move north is a huge job, and I’ve been much more nervous about it than I should have been. I don’t believe in worrying. I use supernatural tools to fight it, but sometimes I forget, and then I feel agitated. I’ve been so caught up in the mechanics of moving, I’ve forgotten to feel a lot of the joy that should be associated with leaving Miami. This move is going to work. I may have to return a few times. There may be some humps to get over. But it’s a done deal. I need to focus on that so I don’t cheat myself out of the joy of escaping.

Today I’m focusing on that joy. I’m done with this place. I’m leaving a million bad memories behind. Most of the horrible ordeals my sister put my family through happened here. Most of the problems between my parents happened here. I had a lot of empty, toxic friends here. I chased poisonous dreams here. After this week, apart from rare visits, I won’t have to look at this place. I’ll never have to drive by a familiar location where something awful happened. I’ll never have to see the house in Miami Shores, where we lived for most of my revolting childhood.

Some day, I’ll have this same joy over leaving the earth. Right now I’m going to a place of temporary and limited refuge, and I’m extremely grateful, but no place on earth is free from curses. I want off this planet. Sooner or later, the nuts and murderers will come to us no matter where we live. When they get to my new home, I hope I’ve already move on to paradise. No mature person wants to live a really long life on earth. Clinging to this life is a symptom of spiritual underdevelopment. It’s like insisting on wearing diapers when you’re in high school.

These things are really happening. I wasn’t imagining things when I thought God was warning me about increased persecution. It’s here. It’s ramping up. It’s not going to stop. If I’m still on this planet, it won’t be long until I see the horrible things I’ve been expecting. The green shoots of wholesale murder and sadism are already visible. Thank God, I won’t be in a big city when the spectacle unfolds in its full glory.

I changed mailing addresses and subscription instructions. I have to get TV and Internet service in order today. On Saturday morning, the caravan departs. The movers will be on the road, and so will we. My dad’s old car will be in the hands of the Salvation Army, my truck will be in the hands of a shipper, and that will be the end of it.

Get ready for blog posts about tractors, manure, and rifles. This is going to be great.

Porch: There is no Substitute

Friday, August 4th, 2017

Hola, Amigos

I am back in the land of joy, better known as Miami. I returned from Ocala today, and I am already basking in the rudeness and stupidity. As soon as I hit Palm Beach County, other drivers got nastier and less able.

We closed on the new house today. It’s a done deal. The sellers will stay on for two weeks, and then we take possession. It’s still not entirely real to me.

The property is far nicer than anything I thought possible. It’s secluded, it’s large, it has woods, it has pasture, it has a big ol’ shop building, and it even has a huge sand berm which will be a fine rifle backstop. Sonny’s BBQ is five minutes away, as is Cracker Barrel. Tractor Supply is close. The nearest neighbor is a guy who built a gun ROOM in his garage. Not a safe. A room with a thick steel door. Think he’ll complain about me shooting? I don’t.

The sellers kept giving me stuff. Today they gave us the rockers on the front porch. The house has a huge collection of porches. There’s a front porch with a gazebo on one end. There’s a back porch. The shop has a porch. The pool has a patio, which is sort of a porch. Rockers are a necessity. I’m not sure what rockers cost, but today at Cracker Barrel, I saw they were charging between one and two hundred bucks for one.

My only serious whine right now is that my dad doesn’t share my enthusiasm. He truly hates Miami and can’t wait to move, and he likes Ocala and the house, but he’s not excited about it. He doesn’t have that Charlie-getting-the-keys-to-the-chocolate-factory feeling I have. So I pester my friends via text.

Two years ago he thought Miami was just fine. What happened? God happened. That’s all I can tell you. My dad has changed. He complains about the people. He complains about the traffic. He sounds just like me, only without the joy over the impending move.

It seems like he has slipped a notch over the last week or two. That’s the way these things work. I’m glad we finally got the house bought, because it might have been a very strange process further down the line. I don’t know what his capabilities will be in six months. I’m certainly glad he has been able to participate in the house hunt and get involved with decisions. I wanted a place where he would be happy.

I’m fairly sure I can get us out of here in three weeks. I don’t know how often I’ll have to come back. “Never” would be my choice.

I can’t figure out why the sellers are so nice. I could sell the machinery they sold me for twice what I paid, and they didn’t expect me to pay as much as I did. They came down a lot on the price of the house. The appraiser felt it was underpriced already. Maybe they’re just tired and ready to move.

I hope I got a good deal, but I was not trying to gouge anyone. I just wanted a fair price. Maybe I did better than that. There is no way to be sure.

Next time I go up I’ll try to take pictures and post them.

I’m beat. Time for pizza. I’m so tired I’m willing to eat Papa John’s.

I look forward to blogging from one of the many porches.

Buying the Farm

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

The End is Near!

I can’t put all my business on the World Wide Web, but I can say that the day of reckoning is nearly here. My dad is about to close on a farm in northern Florida. Very shortly, my well-deserved captivity in Miami will come to an end.

The other day a friend asked if “the reality of the move” was sinking in. She was talking about my dad, but it made me think. I have not fully absorbed it, myself.

Physical captivity ends quickly. When they release a man from prison, it takes less than a day to put him on the street. The passage through the prison gate takes an instant. The time it takes for him to feel free inside is longer.

It sounds dramatic, comparing a move between a reasonably affluent American city and a pleasant rural home to being released from prison, and of course, I am not suggesting my time here has been anything like what prisoners go through. I’m just talking about the principle. I felt trapped in this place. It seemed like all my efforts to break free were hindered or cut off. I felt (feel) claustrophobic. I look forward to seeing the horizon once in a while. I look forward to getting away from these rude, coarse people.

In a text message yesterday, I referred to the new place as “the farm,” as if I already owned it. I crossed a little threshold there. I don’t have to call it “the house we’re buying” or “the place we made an offer on.” It’s “the farm” now.

What will I do up there? I only have one friend in the whole county. I’ll be fine. These days, I only have one friend in Dade County. It won’t be much different. I have friends in Orlando and Kissimmee, and I know they’ll visit. Once I start attending a church, I’ll make friends. I don’t need a lot of people to be happy. I tend to pick up parasites and abusers, and a small crowd is easier to vet.

For the first month, I’ll be busy settling in, and I’ll also be taking care of problems in Dade County. I know I’ll have to come back here several times. I was dreading it, but then I thought about it, and I realized it’s much better to visit this place than to live here. When I visit Marion County, I leave an unpleasant place, relax in a nice place, and drive back to an unpleasant place for a long stay. When I visit Miami, it will be a photographic negative of that experience. The pain of Miami will be fleeting, and when I leave, it will be for longer and longer periods, soon to become permanent.

I wish I didn’t have to come back. It would be fine with me if this county sank into the earth. But I can cope with visiting. The pain will be mingled with triumph.

Moving is like settling down into a bath that kills ticks, fleas, lice, and leeches. One by one, I will feel the little mouths and claws let go, and the slime of their presence will be washed away.

We live surrounded by spirits. Miami is a cesspool of demon worship, so I believe things are worse here. The county is full of Hispanics and Haitians who actively pursue demons and pledge their lives to them. It makes me wonder…will I feel better up north simply because I’m no longer living in a demonic hub? I’ll bet I do. I’ll bet things go better up there, simply because Satan has fewer personnel available to torment me, and because God has more people to fight them.

The money for the house will have to be wired. Most people buy homes with loans, so they don’t go through what I’m going through. I have to take a sizeable part of a person’s net worth and send it off in what amounts to a bank-to-bank email. There are all sorts of ways for that to go wrong.

While I was suffering with my continuing legal education [sic], I learned a lot about the ways criminals steal money in cyberspace. Here’s one of the smarter ways: a wire recipient sends you his banking info. A crook intercepts it, substitutes his own info, and sends it on to you. You use it, and your money ends up in Botswana.

When I first received wiring instructions, everyone kept telling me to call the escrow people and read the information back to them. The realtor told me. The escrow people told me. I didn’t know why until I found out about the substitution scam. I guess there are horror stories.

I will be a very happy guy when I get confirmation that the money has been received. I confirmed the information twice and printed out a hardcopy just to be sure. I figure it will be hard for people in Botswana to hack a piece of paper in the USA.

I suppose this will all seem real when I walk onto the land and see the movers carrying boxes in. I may start the tractor and zoom around the yard in circles to celebrate. Is it legal to drink and drive a tractor? We may well find out. I’m entitled. Noah knocked back a few when he got his new property.

That didn’t work out too well, though. Maybe I’ll just have a root beer.

A few days back, I realized I had the same mindset about heaven. I know that’s where I’m headed, but it’s still hard to believe it with my whole heart. Some day I’ll wake up in a place where everything is right. It will be a place where the arrogant, fatuous, transparently false slogans of Apple and Google could be applied without snickering: everything just works, and those who live there are not evil. It’s real. Northern Florida is real, and heaven is real. It’s going to happen.

Hope it won’t be long before I’m blogging via laptop from the north pasture.

A. Mack Moofing

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

John Deere Gear and Lukewarm Decaf

It’s raining, so that means I don’t have to install my dad’s pool pump today. Some people might claim it’s possible to install a pool pump on a rainy day, especially in a shed with a roof. Those people are clearly fools. I am goofing off on the Internet, digesting Egg McMuffins (or as they are called in Miami, “A. Mack Moofings”), and hoping the chicas at McDonald’s gave me decaf instead of the real thing.

I’m still very excited about being a near-tractor-owner. I’m even excited about working on them. My current shop is so jammed, working on anything large is like cleaning the Augean stables (Look how my classical education is paying off), but with the room I’ll have in Marion County, I’ll be able to walk around a tractor without stepping over anything.

My grandmother had a funny expression for small rooms. She said they were “too small to whip a kitten,” and by “whip,” I believe she meant “swing.” As in “too small to swing a cat.” I’m going to have cat-swinging room.

I probably won’t get to work on them a lot. They’re both in good condition, and they’re quality machines. I could always buy a $750 1965 Massey-Ferguson just to have a patient.

I’ve done what every responsible tractor owner does. I went online and ordered a John Deere T-shirt. I also looked at Kubota shirts. They only have a couple of designs that aren’t way too orange or full of heinous polyester. They need to fix that. John Deere has too many green shirts (I don’t wear green), but at least they have cotton.

Someone told me I was not allowed to wear a John Deere hat. Because the garden tractor is small, I’m limited to ball caps. I don’t care. I’ll tell people it’s a big tractor. I’m going to take a fuzzy photo of it, and I’ll hire a midget to sit in the seat to make it look bigger. Either that, or I’ll get the mother of my 3-year-old godson to let me put a fake beard on him.

I found one Kubota shirt that wasn’t too bad. It’s black, with “Kubota” written on the front in Japanese characters. At least it’s SUPPOSED to say “Kubota.” In reality, it may say “Sucker” or even just “Shirt.”

I need to find me a tractor umbrella. The last thing I want is to fry in the sun while running my machines. I wish there were some way to grow grass indoors. Actual grass, I mean.

Time to go look out the window and thank God for the rain.

Asteroid B-612 is Getting Crowded

Friday, July 28th, 2017

The Past Never Completely Dies

The day gets weirder and weirder.

God granted my tractor wishes, and then I realized I had to think about insurance. I didn’t know how to do it. Are tractors vehicles? Do you need vehicle insurance? I wondered. Based on my Googling, I decided they were probably items covered by homeowner’s insurance.

I already had a couple of quotes, but I decided to get some more. I tried to get online quotes, and I got the runaround. I finally called a company. I started talking to an agent.

We started talking about the fact that I was moving from Miami to northern Florida. Gradually, he let me know that he and his wife had lived here. His opinion of Miami was about like mine. He hated it. They left after Hurricane Andrew.

He talked about the horrible schools his wife had attended in Miami. Ghetto nightmares where white kids were not safe. He didn’t mention the racist violence; that’s all me. He said she went to Miami Edison for high school, and Horace Mann for junior high. Those are the wretched schools I would have had to attend, had my mother not battled my dad to get him to send me to private school.

He started talking about her elementary school. Sure enough, it was Miami Shores Elementary. My old school. I told him so. I said I probably went to school with his wife. He asked me what year I was born, and I told him. Same year as the wife. He told me her last name! “Elaina!”, I said. I didn’t know her well, but I knew who she was. Too funny.

The school had seven grades and a thousand students, so I pretty much had to know her. It comes out to around 140 students per grade.

When we got done with the call, I told him to tell his wife I congratulated her on surviving Edison, and I congratulated them both on escaping Miami.

It would be funny if I got insurance through him.

It was an interesting experience, but I was also a bit disturbed. I don’t like remembering the old days. I want to feel disconnected from them. I want them to not exist. Actually, moving to Marion County has its disturbing side, because the worst parts of my childhood took place in Tampa, which is more like Marion County than Miami. Tampa and Marion County smell similar. The plants are similar. Some of the home construction is similar. There were a lot of Marion County homes I refused to consider because they reminded me of those times.

It’s way better than Miami. No doubt about that. And I don’t think I’ll be running into anyone from my past there, except for one law school friend who lives in the area. She’s okay, though, and when I think of the darker times of my past, law school is not what I think of. I had a great time in law school.

Hey, here’s another small world item: Reince Priebus just got canned. A guy from my original college class was president for 8 miserable years, while another guy from that class (Stephanopoulos) covered him for NBC, and then a guy from my law school was chief of staff for the next president.

I wondered how Reince got the job. I don’t mean to pick on anyone, and I don’t really know him, but he seemed very unremarkable when we were in law school together. He was a mover and shaker in student government, but I always thought those people were silly. Student government, I thought, was for people who didn’t have the talent to make it without crass, aggressive self-promotion, and I thought it was undignified for adults to run for student offices. When he made it big, my impression was that he was in way over his head. It may be that I was right. In an office like chief of staff, you want a Rumsfeld or a Cheney. Someone sharp and strong. Reince always looked worried and unsure.

Time to unwind. I may go nuts and have an entire beer.

Next Purchase: a Spit Cup

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Tractors!

I’m a tractor owner! In fact, I own TWO tractors! I’m the happiest man alive. I feel like my wife just had twins.

I’m exaggerating. I don’t own tractors yet, but I have a deal in place. The seller of the house I’m moving to made me an insane offer on his tractors, plus a bush hog and golf cart, and I just found out he has been made aware of my acceptance. He’s going to get the papers ready.

“Why are you buying tractors if you don’t own the house?” Good question. Without boring you with details, there are good financial reasons for me to buy them instead of letting my dad do it.

This is incredible. In February, I was on my knees thanking God for the opportunity to move one county north and sit on 2 little acres. I’d have pretty much the same bad weather we have here, and the people would be about 30% as annoying. The traffic would be much more bearable, but it would not be as light as it is in northern Florida. Here it is July, and I’m on the verge of closing on a bigger property three hundred miles away. With tractors. Tractors, baby. Not riding mowers. Don’t tell me God isn’t good.

What next? Maybe a Sofia Vergara clone will descend from the sky and tell me she needs a good Christian husband to pray with.

Here’s a bad photo of the new babies.

When I get up there, I’m going to fire them up and ride them in circles. Just so I can say I’ve been out on my tractor all day.

The golf cart is not as cool as a tractor, but it’s still pretty neat. I guess I’ll wear it out. I’ll put a rifle rack on it and patrol the grounds. I would be tempted to put a Confederate flag on it, just to annoy snowflakes who might see it on Google Earth, except I gave up my stars and bars some years before it became mandatory.

Dang. Now I need tractor insurance. I didn’t think of that.

Okay, now I’m a tractor insurance expert. Apparently, you can cram tractors into your homeowner’s policy. Hope that information is correct.

It appears that my vehicle insurance will cost almost a third less up north. Won’t that be nice? Not as low as I had hoped. I guess just being in the same state with Miami has an effect. A Miami idiot might run into you while driving between Miami and New York.

Things are generally cheaper in northern Florida. Down here, you pay extra for the immense privilege of being in Miami. It’s like having a cover charge in hell.

In other news, I managed to fix the problems with my dad’s boat with very little effort. Thank God. With boats, you never know whether jobs will take five minutes or five hours. Here’s hoping no more bad things happen before we move.

If it weren’t so late, I’d go outside and install his new pool pump. I figure it’s a twenty-minute job, so I assume it will take three hours. Ever the optimist.

That’s all I got. But it’s enough.

Still Chewing Through the Straps

Friday, July 28th, 2017

Out of my Way, You Pillars of Salt

Today is a better day than most. I am waiting for a mechanic to give me a report on the farm machinery I intend to buy. For a hundred bucks, a trained diesel mechanic is looking at a farm tractor, a garden tractor, and a gas-powered golf cart for me. If God smiles on me, soon I will receive his report, and I will be cleared for takeoff.

It’s wonderful to know that when I move, I won’t have to begin my northern Florida experience with a month of tractor-shopping. Buying vehicles is like dating. It’s full of pitfalls and the potential for bitter regret. If I get the machines the mechanic is looking at, I’ll be covering all the bases at once, and I’ll be getting a very good price.

I still have a lot to do here. My dad has rental properties, and one is vacant right now. Yesterday I toured it with the realtor who looks after our properties. It was very depressing. The tenants were slobs, even by tenant standards. They painted the dining room walls a dark rust color, in semi-gloss instead of flat. They painted other areas a sickly baby blue, and of course, they got paint on the white popcorn ceiling. They destroyed the vertical blinds. They were told to patch all of their nail and screw holes when the left, so they jammed spackling compound into them, but they didn’t sand them.

Here’s one of their more impressive stunts: they drove a doorknob through a wall and left a patch you wouldn’t believe. Someone slammed the door and drove the doorstop through it, and after that, I guess they figured it was okay to use the wall as a doorstop.

I knew the place needed new kitchen cabinets, but now it looks like it will need to have the bathrooms done. A contractor had the gall to submit a $30,000+ estimate. Dude. It’s a rental. Granite is for people who take care of things. It’s not for tenants.

I would sell it right now, as is, but then I would have to think about capital gains tax. To avoid paying, I have to have a new rental property in mind, and I have to buy it within a few months. Tall order.

Never buy residential rentals. You have to be out of your mind to get into it. Residential tenants have the same respect for your property that convicts have for prisons. They expect homes to be perfect when they move in, and then they live like animals. Commercial tenants are completely different. They expect nothing except walls, and they don’t ask for much. More often than not, they make improvements which they leave behind. And you can evict them FAST. Try that with a home. Even a squatter who came in through a window can hold you off for months.

Here’s another fun item on my list. My dad’s pool pump died. Couldn’t it wait another year? Guess not. I had one delivered, and now I have to install it. In the hottest weather of the year. That will be a joy.

It gets better. The starboard battery bank on my dad’s boat is dead. Somehow, we discharged it so much it laughs at the battery charger. I have to try to charge it with the port engine, using jumper cables. Won’t that be fun? If I don’t get on it today or tomorrow, the boat could sink because the bilge pumps won’t run.

Guess I should make that my top priority. I’ve gotten used to the lovely emerald shade the pool has turned.

On the up side, the mechanic just called, and he thinks the machinery is worth twice what the seller is asking, so there’s some good news. There are a couple of hydraulic leaks, but they’re easy fixes, and the bush hog has a deck tear I should be able to weld up. Hooray for me.

Time to head for the boat, to erase all the good I did with my morning shower. Pray I get it running, and that I can resist the urge to scuttle it.

New Pets for New Home

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Guess I Should Also Think About Furniture

I feel like providing an update on the diesel front.

I finally got some details on the golf cart, tractor, and garden tractor the seller of my new home wants to sell me. The tractor has 1100 hours, and it has a small hydraulic leak the seller can’t find. The garden tractor has 783 hours (Yanmar diesel), and it has a small leak around the PTO shaft. The cart has 308 hours.

The seller says he adds fluid to the tractors after every fourth use.

I looked into hydraulic leaks, and it sounds like I’m not in much danger. When the mechanic looks the machines over, he should be able to tell if there’s a serious problem. Some hydraulic leaks are a big deal, and others are just annoying. The PTO leak on the John Deere sounds trivial. You can buy a new seal for $9.50. The people who sell the seal say it’s easy to install. Which is what you would expect them to say, I grant you.

I told the realtor (our messenger) I would be comfortable at $10K, but if the seller comes back and sticks at $11K, I’ll buy the machines anyway, because that was already a great price.

If what I’ve read is correct, 1100 hours is around 25% of the time a typical tractor will run before needing major work. Given that the tractor is around 17 years old, and assuming I work as much as the seller did, I should be fine for the next 51 years.

The garden tractor is supposedly immortal, except for the mower part, which is called a “deck.” Even that can be repaired, as long as the really big parts aren’t destroyed. I have read about people running them for upwards of 4000 hours. Also, I’m a machinist and welder. Surely I should be able to fix a few of the things that wear out.

According to the small amount of information I’ve been able to find, gas-powered golf carts are good for 5000 hours before they need to be totally redone or scrapped. I figure 308 hours is an acceptable total for a used machine. Even if it blows up, it’s a cheesy 350-cc motor which can’t cost much to fix or replace.

This is exciting. I’m going to have a tractor. Not thrilled at the prospect of mowing, I admit, but…tractor. You can do a lot with a tractor. It’s a tool. And I love buying tools.

The cart will need a radio. I can’t be out there touring the grounds with no tunes. Forget that.

I’m having a hard time finding a mechanic in Marion County who will go look at the machines. Angie’s List and Yelp don’t work all that well in the sticks.

I look forward to posting photos of my farm adventures.

Rise of the Machines

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

You Can’t Have too Many Diesels

Every day I start my prayers with two things. I ask God to do whatever can be done to bring him success in me and in everything I own, and I ask him to separate me from people and spirits that are against him and put me in his presence and the presence of his people. I want God himself to have success. I want him to have a return on his huge investment in me. If you look at the Bible, this is what he has been trying to get all along. He creates people and tells them exactly what to do in order to succeed, and we listen to loser spirits instead. God is a parent who wants his kids to take his helpful advice so he can make their lives work out, so I ask him to help me cooperate.

This is another way of asking him to put his kingdom and his righteousness first in my life. Jesus told us God would take care of our external needs if we put his desires first. It sure seems to work. I can give examples of the ways God is making my life easier.

I was concerned that my dad would not have enough ready cash to buy a house while managing his business. Looks like that’s not going to be an issue. One way and another, money shook loose. I doubt I’ll have to lend him a cent.

I was concerned that my dad might flip out when I started throwing out his awful furniture. He doesn’t even mention it. He walks into rooms where his stuff used to be, and he acts like nothing happened. That’s a good thing, because it’s stupid to move furniture which is worth absolutely nothing. The cost of the move is a total loss.

The seller of the property has some farm machinery I’ll need. He was talking to the realtor about selling it to me, but he took a long time to give me a price. Today, I got the number. It’s excellent. For $11K, he’ll sell me a Kubota tractor with loader, several implements including a bush hog, an E-Z-GO gas-powered cart with a dump bed, and a top-of-the-line John Deere diesel tractor/mower with a cart. That’s so low, I’m embarrassed to counter. I think a reasonable price would be more like $17K. As long as this stuff checks out, I should give him what he wants. He has done a ton of stuff to get the place into shape, free of charge.

This may not be the perfect machinery for my needs, but it will keep me going for a long time, and I’ll be able to get my money out of it if I upgrade.

I’ll need a nitrous system for that cart. I’ll just put that on my list.

I can’t get used to being blessed. It is a strange way of life. When I was living on a kibbutz, there was a death camp survivor who worked in the dining hall. Every time he ended a shift, someone had to go behind him and look for food he had hidden. He would take loaves of bread and hide them in various locations. He couldn’t help it. He had been starved in the past. I feel a little bit like that. So many things have gone wrong in my life; things that had every reason to go right. Now things seem to go right regardless of what I do. How can that be?

I’m getting insurance quotes for the property. They’re asking me whether we’ll have livestock. What kind of livestock? Will we be raising them for profit? Those are nice questions to get, when you’re used to little lots in suburbs.

Here’s my plan for the “farm”: I plan to raise nothing. If I need a couple of steers to cut the property tax, I’ll get them, but the land is for me, not for animals. I want to be able to walk outside without having my neighbors in my face.

In a very short time, we’ll close on the property, and then two weeks later, we get possession. After that, I don’t care what happens to me. Whatever life brings, I will go lie on my face in the grass and feel like the richest person alive.

More developments as they occur.

Where is Mr. Haney When You Need Him?

Monday, July 17th, 2017

Tractor Dilemma

I am still trying to figure out what to do about farm machinery.

As I wrote earlier, the seller of the house I’m moving to wants to sell me his Kubota L3710 tractor and some other stuff. In order to avoid getting hosed, I’ve been studying the Internet to find out what I should do.

Today it occurred to me I might be able to get a bigger machine for less money. My lathe weighs about 4000 pounds, and the Kubota can only lift 1500. I’m not sure what my mill weighs. It would be nice to be able to move these tools myself, without using pry bars for the whole job. A bigger tractor would lift more.

To get a bigger machine, I would have to pick up something older. Is that a smart idea? I don’t know. My grandfather’s old Massey-Fergusons were abused and left outdoors, but they always did what he wanted, and a lot of people on the web say they’ve spend under $5,000 for good machines.

While I was looking into all this, I decided to get people’s opinions on old machinery brands like Ford, Massey-Ferguson, International Harvester, and so on. I learned something very interesting: there are no American tractors now.

That’s not quite true. If you buy a giant machine for tending 10,000 acres of wheat, it may be American. That’s not what I want. I need a typical farm tractor. Those aren’t made here any more.

John Deere sells Japanese tractors, and it’s my understanding that a lot of their stuff is Mexican. Massey-Ferguson sells Indian machinery. Indian! The scariest country of product origin in the machine tool world. The Indians still make line-shaft lathes because their electrical grid is so primitive.

If what I’ve read is right, the American tractor has been dead for a long time. Maybe thirty years. Where was I? Not buying tractors, I guess.

There go my concerns about not buying American. Unless I go antique-shopping, American isn’t an option.

The more I think about it, the more I think I should buy the seller’s tractor, IF I get a good price. If I know I can get my money out of it, no harm done. I can upgrade or downgrade later. If he wants too much, forget it. I won’t need a tractor for weeks after I move, so I don’t have to rush.

Someone on a forum wrote a great tip for buyers: check the reputation of the local dealer when you buy a used tractor, because this is the outfit you will depend on for help. I checked the reputation of the Kubota dealer in Ocala, and I did not find any good news. One buyer who has a Yelp account said the seller refuses to send people out to look at machines, so I suppose you would have to pay to have your broken tractor towed. The buyer said the dealer’s people were irresponsible, extremely slow, and dishonest, more or less.

The dealer responded. You would think they would have begged forgiveness and done their best to fix the problems, or that they would have at least argued. No, they posted what looked like a cut and paste from the boilerplate on their website. “XXX Tractors is dedicated to providing customers with the best possible service and the lowest prices anywhere, with a highly trained staff and a spacious, modern repair facility.” Something of that sort. No denials.

The message I got was, “Maybe this guy is right about us. We don’t give a crap.”

Maybe it’s the greatest tractor dealership on earth, but I have no way of knowing that, based on what I’ve seen so far. And here I am, thinking of buying a tractor they probably sold.

I shouldn’t criticize India without saying people seem to love their tractors. Mahindra tractors get fine reviews. The Koreans are also in the game now. There is a Korean brand named Kioti, and people like it.

I feel like I should try to buy the seller’s machines, and if the price is bad, I should tell him I’m not interested. Good enough.

It would be neat to have an old Ford or something, for a few grand. It would be a hassle, though. Right now I have a tractor in a convenient location where I can look at it and maybe send a mechanic. If I Craigslist an antique, I’ll probably be expected to do business beside a tractor in someone’s side yard, without much opportunity to check it out.

This reminds me of buying my machine tools. Today, I would not hesitate to check out an old mill or lathe. I know what goes wrong with them. Before I had machine tools, I didn’t have that kind of confidence. I couldn’t tell whether the machines were any good or not. Once I’ve used a tractor for a while, I’ll know what to look for when I buy a used tractor. But I’ll have to buy a used tractor in order to get that knowledge.

That’s some catch, that Catch-22.

The answer, of course, is to buy more tools. The more tools I have, the less I will need creepy tractor dealers. And the more tools I have, the more tools I have.

In a completely irrelevant vein, I talked to the realtor today. He talked to the seller and confirmed: I WILL BE ABLE TO SHOOT ON MY PROPERTY! The seller does it all the time. This has to be a dream.

On top of that, I just showed the Miami house I’m trying to sell to a young couple with affluent parents. The couple came alone yesterday, and today the parents came with them. In a Maserati. In expensive clothes. With questions about expanding the house. Could they borrow the plans? Of course they could. Maybe these people are serious. Finally, someone with money.

I don’t know if I can stand any more good news.

More updates as they unfold.

All the Other Kings Said it was Daft to Build a Castle in a Swamp

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

Tractor!

The house in northern Florida came through inspection okay. There are a couple of water-intrusion spots that have to be looked at, but all the other problems are BS. Example: leaky sprinkler heads. These things cost seven dollars each and can be installed without tools. I am relieved. The house is only 17 years old, and it was not built by Miami Home-Depot-Parking-Lot commandos, so I had every reason to expect it to be sound. I’m glad to know I was right.

In other news, the seller wants me to buy his tractor. He has a Kubota L3710 with a front end loader. It might be a good idea. I need one anyway, and based on the way this guy maintained the house, the tractor is probably two wipes of a rag short of tractor-show-ready. Kubota is Japanese, and they have a good reputation. The Japanese make tractors for John Deere. I’m going to try to get up to speed on prices.

Diesel tractors are not quite like cars. Like other diesel products, tractors have lifespans measured in engine hours. I have been trying to find out how many hours I should be willing to accept. People say all sorts of stupid things on the web “At 100,000 hours, International Harvesters are just getting broken in!”), so it was hard to get a good answer, but it looks like you should expect a major overhaul at 4000 hours, so I figure 2000 is a reasonable cap.

Why do I need a tractor? Because I am an idiot. Along with my dad, I chose a pretty big property. Dozens of acres. I like to think I’ll be able to sit back and do nothing, but I know there will be times when I’ll have to cut the weeds or move fallen trees or pull stumps. Things will need to be lifted. Dirt will have to be moved. When jobs like that come up, you can pay other people to do them and look like a sissy, or you can get on your tractor with your Yeti cup and get ‘er done.

The tractor has a front end loader and a bush hog. The front end loader would be fun for playing Truckasaurus on slow days. Unfortunately, it will not lift my milling machine or lathe, but I could move “little” stuff like my band saw, compressor, drill press, and table saw.

Do I want a bush hog? Maybe, but I am tempted to get a couple of goats instead. A bush hog won’t eat poison ivy while you sit in your cool bonus room watching reruns of Breaking Bad.

The seller also wants to get rid of a John Deere lawn tractor, which sounds fine, but it’s 20 years old. I didn’t know a lawn tractor could survive that long. Big diesel tractors can be rebuilt over and over. Little diesel lawn tractors…I dunno. And the stinging implication of a lawn tractor purchase is that I would be mowing the lawn.

Maybe there is still time to back out and get a condo.

The final offering: an E-Z-GO ST-350 gas-powered golf cart. This is the tool the seller used to entice us to buy the place. He had the realtor turn us loose on it, and we toured the property. His ploy worked, but the cart is not my cup of tea. It barely moves. I want to feel a little breeze when I drive. I’m pretty sure I can outrun the E-Z-GO.

The “350” in the model number refers to the size of the engine, in cc’s. Here, we see the problem. My Moto Guzzi motorcycle has 1064 cc’s and weighs a third as much. This is why it does 70 in second gear.

I hate to turn down anything that makes the place turn-key, but that cart is not going to get it. Not the way it is. Maybe it needs some work? I do not know. There’s always nitrous.

While I ponder my machinery options, I am busy throwing out and giving away bad furniture. There are some things I know the Salvation Army will not accept, so I don’t try. It would be insulting. When you give them something really nasty, you’re essentially asking them to be your unpaid garbage men. Today I broke up my dad’s office credenza. I didn’t just put it outside. I took off the doors and broke the drawers. I don’t want him to think there is any possibility that it can be saved.

My dad got his office furniture about 25 years ago. My grandfather had a car dealership, and the manager, who had been fired, got GM to terminate it. The property was then leased to a Western Auto, and they went Tango Uniform, leaving their junk behind. My dad scooped up their cardboard (okay, particle board) furniture, which had stickers with lot numbers on it, indicating it had already been sold at auction once. My dad was at least the third owner of these atrocities. No way was I paying to move this crap 300 miles.

I worked for a patent attorney who grossed 850K per year (1999 dollars) from a crappy desk. You don’t have to have great furniture to run a business. But paying maybe $300 to move junk? No. That’s not smart. They have junk where we’re going. We can pick up someone else’s trash and save money on shipping. Not that this is my plan.

If you have a parent who holds onto useless junk, you will understand how thrilling it was to see that credenza sitting by the road with no drawers. Bliss.

Time to relax and gather my energy for another day. Hope your weekend is as rewarding as mine.

BUG OUT!

Sunday, July 9th, 2017

Moving Strategy Gradually Takes Shape

Plans for my move are progressing. Today’s big step: joining a dementia caregiver forum.

The new house has a crazy-big upstairs, and that’s where I plan to establish my headquarters. The downstairs will be arranged to suit my dad and his needs and pleasures. That means new living room furniture and the largest TV currently known to man.

Because the furniture will be new, I will want it to have the best possible shot at staying clean and undamaged. I don’t want to name the types of contaminants that can get on furniture in situations like this; you can probably figure that out. I realized there were millions of other people dealing with this problem, so instead of reinventing the wheel, I should reach out, via forum, and see what has worked for others.

I am fine with the fact that the downstairs will be maybe…not a prime example of the Martha Stewart ethos. That’s okay. I’m a man, and I am fine in a house with no indoor plants and no wall decorations. I think the best wallpaper is tile. But I want the furniture to be something better than Ikea, and I don’t want people to smell anything when they walk in the front door.

I’m amazed at how God has provided for me. I looked at a ton of properties, so they tend to blend together in my head. I no longer have distinct memories of every room in every house. I have the plans for the new house, and I see that it’s almost as if it were designed for me.

The house has a huge master suite on the ground floor, and it’s beside the kitchen. Problem, right? No. The bedroom is between the kitchen and bathroom, so if anything unfortunate happens in the bathroom, there will be three doors between it and the air of the kitchen. Yes, three. The bathroom has a toilet room with its own door. You walk in the bathroom, close the door, walk into the toilet closet, close the door, and get down to business. That’s civilized compartmentalization.

No matter what happens in that little room, I should be able to kill it by mopping it with bleach two or three times a week. If it damages the walls, so be it. That can be fixed in the future.

The upstairs has a “bonus room” which is…get this…thirty-four feet long. I thought it was more like fifteen by twenty. Big TV which also serves as a monitor, couch, two chairs, exercise bikes, stereo…paradise. And the top of the stairs serves as a choke point for killing zombies as they approach.

Oh, yeah. Are you kidding? Bring that on.

Even with my disgusting packrat habits, clutter should be a thing of the past. I should have ample room for my 93 tons of books. In addition to the bonus room, the downstairs has a study.

I am getting clarity on the workshop dilemma. I have two garages to choose from (attached and detached). I have learned that the attached garage isn’t all that big, so instead of dividing my power tools between buildings, I think the best course is to jam everything in the detached garage. It sort of makes sense. You don’t want to have to walk back and forth between two shops all day, and I don’t want to have to buy a second big compressor.

This would leave the house’s garage empty. What do you put in a garage, if not giant machine tools? Surely not vehicles. That would be asinine.

I can put a second set of house-only tools together and put them in the attached garage, so I don’t have to walk outside every time I need a screwdriver. Then, of course, I’ll need a third set for the upstairs, so I don’t have to walk down the staircase, and then I’ll need a fourth set for my bedroom.

Too much?

I was thinking the bonus room, soon to be known as the Oberbunker, needed a convertible couch, but there will be a couple of vacant bedrooms, so maybe it’s a stupid idea. Convertible couches are heavy and uncomfortable anyway.

Maybe a better name is “Masada West.” How about “The Fortress of Rectitude”?

“Rapture Staging Area.” “Base Camp.”

I know what can go in the garage. The nasty, awful lawnmower. Which probably won’t even have A/C. It really looks like I will have to learn lawn-mowing. Maybe Udacity has a course.

With any luck, I’ll have the hygiene problems solved today or tomorrow. I hope other caregivers can help me with my questions. It will be wonderful to have something resembling a plan.

Guess I’ll pack more books today. More than ever, I regret learning to read.

The Turn of the Screw

Saturday, July 8th, 2017

Over the last week or two I have been learning about screwdrivers. I blogged about it on June 28. You would think that after a couple of days of Googling and asking questions, I would have learned everything there was to know. Not so. I’m starting to think universities should offer master’s programs in screwdriver studies.

I thought I’d put up a photo of some of the drivers I’ve used, so you can look at them as I complain and ramble.

The driver on the right (orange plastic) probably came from Harbor Freight. Somehow, my dad ended up with a set. Guess what? They work great. The tips are hard, the handles are reasonably comfortable, and I’m sure they were cheap as dirt. I would not hesitate to buy new ones to carry in my vehicle. If you think your tools will probably get stolen, these are a good choice.

I don’t understand how Harbor Freight pulled this off, but the facts are undeniable.

To the left of the orange screwdriver, you will see a crooked wooden-handled screwdriver. It came from China. My lathe or milling machine (can’t recall) came with two screwdrivers, and this is one of them. It has a long, graceful bend in the shank, and I can assure you, that bend was not created intentionally. Here’s the funny part: it works. The tip hasn’t stripped. The handle hasn’t peeled. It’s a very useful tool.

Seems like the Chinese (some of them) have learned an important lesson Americans can’t seem to absorb: when you make cheap tools, you put the quality where it needs to be. These Chinese screwdrivers have plenty of shortcomings, but the tips are very good, and that’s 95% of what makes the tool work. Americans don’t do it that way. When we make cheap things, we spend the money on making the whole tool look nice, and we don’t invest in the parts that count.

The two screwdrivers to the left of the Chinese no-name are Stanleys. I believe I bought a red-handled set some time ago, and the other one came from a set that belonged to my dad. I’m not going to complain about these. They worked fine, and they weren’t expensive. I wouldn’t call them good screwdrivers, but they didn’t fall apart when I really needed them.

Speaking of falling apart, the next screwdriver is a Craftsman I bought in about 1995, as part of a set. I have very few left, and I don’t lose them, so you can guess what happened. The tips on the Phillips screwdrivers didn’t last. I don’t recall, but I’m sure I threw them out. Yes, Craftsmans are guaranteed for life, buy why would you replace a tool with another tool which will also fail? It’s not worth the drive to Sears.

My Craftsmans looked very nice. Unlike Harbor Freight, Sears put the money in the appearance. Now I avoid Craftsman screwdrivers, but I heartily endorse Harbor Freight. This is what Sears should have expected.

Next comes a Klein with a rubber handle. The screwdrivers are more expensive than Craftsmans. The tip on the screwdriver is a little chewy, and I don’t abuse it, so what does that tell you? For the most part, my Kleins have held up fine, but this one is dubious.

People buy Klein because they expect something that will work better than a cheaper tool, so Klein should use very good steel and add useful features. The steel in this screwdriver seems questionable, and the tool has other problems. The shank is round, so you can’t put a wrench on it. It has no hex bolster. A hex bolster is another feature that will allow you to use a wrench. The rubber handle reacts badly to oils and solvents. The butt of the driver is plastic, so you can’t hit it with a hammer. Also, the tool is not insulated, even though Klein is known for electrical tools.

I have read that Klein had a temporary steel issue which has been fixed, but I don’t want to get caught up in a company’s confused voyage of self-discovery and recovery. I’m not Dr. Phil. I have more hair.

Add all that up, and you have to ask: why Klein?

“Well, you have to cut corners if you want to compete.” Really? Let’s look at the next screwdriver.

The yellow Phillips head next to the Klein is a Wera Kraftform 900 Chiseldriver. It doesn’t have a rubber handle that hates gasoline. It has a full-length shank which goes to a steel cap on the butt, so you can use a hammer to drive it into dirty screws. The shank is hex-shaped so you can use a wrench. The shank has a big hex bolster so you can use a bigger wrench. The handle itself is hex-shaped at the shank end. What more could you ask?

You can get a set of 13 of these for $85, shipped. And they’re made in China. No, they’re not! Don’t be so gullible! They’re made in Germany. Real Caucasian quality tools. Yes, they cost a lot more than Craftsman. If Craftsman made this set, it would be about $20. But you don’t have to throw the Weras out the third time you use them. To get 14 Kleins, you have to pay about $112. So you spend around 40% more, for something that isn’t nearly as good.

I haven’t looked at every screwdriver made, but I’ve looked at a few, and it appears that if you want something good, you have to spend $25 per screwdriver for Snap-On, or you can buy German.

That’s not completely true, and that brings me to my latest screwdriver lesson. After ordering Wera drivers, I was told that they’re not right for use on guns. Guns are among the highest quality things we own, and the screws are made very well. Ordinary screws have slots that are V-shaped when viewed from the sides. Gun screw slots have parallel sides. Most screwdrivers have tapered tips. Gun screws require drivers that have flat tips. If you jam a tapered tip into a really good screw, you open it up on the near side and deface the weapon.

Like life wasn’t complicated enough.

I found a relatively cheap solution. For about $30, you can get a set of US-made Grace screwdrivers made for guns. They have square wooden handles that don’t slip when you get oil on them. They don’t have hex bolsters, but they do have flats on the shanks.

Here’s how I see it now, and I am aware that this could change in ten minutes:

1. If you want screwdrivers that work, cheap, get Harbor Freight and check the tips to make sure they’re okay. For all I know, the screwdrivers they sell now are crap.

2. If you want quality screwdrivers that won’t put you in the poorhouse, get a German brand like Wera, Wiha, or Fela.

3. If you want to work on guns, get Grace.

4. If you want screwdrivers for electrical work, get Wera or Wiha and forget about Klein. Get insulated shafts.

5. Never, ever buy a Craftsman screwdriver, and forget about the stupid warranty. Sears is disappearing. Where are you going to go every time your mushy Phillips head fails? And how many companies DON’T have a warranty? Let me check Wera. Yes, they have a lifetime warranty. Same deal.

I don’t know what to tell you about the Stanleys. They seem to work, but they are low on features.

It’s sad that the topic of screwdrivers has to be so complex. Part of the problem is my upbringing in a culture where people don’t know anything about tools, but the bigger part is the ineptitude of an entire industry. When you go to Home Depot to get a saw or an axe, you shouldn’t have to ask (axe?) things like, “Does it work?”

Is it unfair for me to plug German tools without testing them? In short, nein. The Internet is full of people who will confirm their excellence. Besides, I have Wiha precision screwdrivers and Allen keys, and they’re very good.

If the Weras crumble like Craftsmans, you better believe I’ll blog it.

I feel like I made the best choices I could, with the information I have.

I’m going to sit here for a while and run my hands over my Weras.

Happy driving.