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Archive for the ‘Tools’ Category

Bot and Paid For

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Xenophobia Goes High Tech

Today I got a text regarding my godson, Noah. I sent him some birthday junk, and his mom sent a photo of him with an earlier gift. It’s a plastic dinosaur. She says it’s his favorite. It’s a good sign. A boy should like dinosaurs. Now if I can start getting him into war toys and explosives…

Here he is. I’m disappointed he hasn’t broken it yet. Boys are supposed to break things.

He looks like an angry teenager in that picture, but he’s actually three.

It got me thinking about my own toy situation. I don’t have a single toy dinosaur, so I’m jealous. I do have a couple of mini drones with broken propellers, but they’re grounded until new parts arrive.

A while back, I started learning C+ and Arduino, and I planned to make or buy a balancing robot to program. I forgot about it, and now I’m thinking about it again. Computer programming gets dull when all you do is make LED’s blink or force a PC to do really useless math problems (“Uncle Steve has 3,512 cookies in the pantry, and they will take 403 earth days to eat.”) I wanted to program something that DOES something.

If I were to build my own robot, the project itself would take over, and a year from now, I’d still be procrastinating. I decided the best thing was to find a robot that works and buy all the parts. Once I’ve put someone else’s kit together and programmed it, which should take less than a day, future bots will come much easier.

The bot I chose is the B-robot, which, I hope, is pronounced “bro-bot.” There are lots of balancing robots out there, but almost all of them stink. They wobble. They can’t right themselves. There are videos of the B-robot zipping around with grace and certainty, so I know it works.

You can also get tracked robots (like little bulldozers), and there are plenty of wheeled robots. They don’t do much for me. They’re too hard to anthropomorphize. I want a robot that acts more like a person, and people don’t crawl around like bugs. Most of the time.

The B-robot comes with 3D-printed chassis parts. I am not all that happy about that, because 3D-printed plastic is flimsy, but they only add $25 to the cost, and it beats spending a week making stuff in the garage. I could find a local 3D print shop and have them make the parts, but no way would that cost less than $25, so I bit the bullet. I can always replace parts later, at my leisure.

I’m hoping the upper parts will be orange, so I can have a Trumpbot. I’ll add a voice thing that yells, “BUILD THE WALL!”, and, “YUUUUUUUUGE!!!” whenever the robot sees someone. The people who make the kit are in California, so they would probably poop biodegradable soy bricks if they saw their bot acting like Trump, but that’s not my problem. I’m making robots great again.

I could add another robot later. I could call him “Juan,” and Trumpbot could chase him around threatening to deport him.

Me: Trump-bro! Bro-Trump! Stop bashing Juan with your plastic putter! No es bueno! Play nice or I’ll release the Fauxcahontas droid!

Trump-bro: Pay for the wall, Juan! Pay for the wall!

Juan: ¡Ay chihuahua! ¡Ayúdame!! ¡Es un Meecroaggression!!!

Trump-bro: STOP TURNING YOUR EXCLAMATION POINTS UPSIDE-DOWN!

I don’t know for sure, but I assume the electronics on the B-robot would scale up to larger robots. The electronics sense the bot’s deviation from vertical and correct for it, and they move him around. That ought to work with a 10-ton robot, as long as you have the right boards and the right steppers or servos. Balancing gets easier as the height of a robot increases. It works for fat cops on Segways, doesn’t it?

I need to build a giant Mecha-Trump to patrol my future Armed Northern Florida Compound. I don’t think it would scare anyone up there, though. They would jump the fence and pose for selfies with it.

Think how neat it would be to have a big robot. You could get a big ol’ lithium battery to power it. Make it the size of a Coke machine. I wonder if it could be rigged with paintball or a full-automatic CO2 BB gun. I might be able to make it shoot products Trump used to advertise.

Me: TRUMP-BRO! ALERT! ALERT! A POSSUM HAS BREACHED THE BORDER WALL! COMMENCE DEPORTATION PROCEDURES!

Trump-bro: Roger that, Steve-O! Oreo cannon locked on target!

Me: Hit him with the Double Stufs!! And don’t call me Steve-O!

Trump-bro: Attention, possum! YOU’RE FIRED!! [POOMP! POOMP! POOMP! POOMP!]

Possum: ¿Qué va?

I could also make a cowardly Antifa bot which runs up and attacks the Trump bot from behind while wearing a mask.

The coolest balancing robots move in two dimensions. That means they can’t have axles. A 2-axis balancing robot has to have a ball for a drive surface, so they’re called “ballbots.” They’re very cool, but obviously, they can’t keep debris away from their drivetrains. The ball has to be able to rotate up into the bot, where it necessarily contacts the motors that drive it. I don’t think that would work outdoors, except on concrete.

I guess a two-wheeled robot could do nearly anything a ballbot could do, if you could teach it to turn in place.

In reality, I will probably be lucky to make Trump-bro roll around the living room without breaking anything. If I could do that, I’d put it on Youtube immediately.

I probably posed a video of the B-robot already, but here it is anyway. I think I’ll post a video of a ballbot, too, to show you the difference.

B-robot:

Ballbot:

If I get anywhere with this, I’ll let you know.

I’m a Lonely Frog

Thursday, May 11th, 2017

I Ain’t Got a Home

Time for an update on the house hunt.

To recap, my father is buying a place in northern Florida, and we are both moving up there. We made an offer on a place we liked, but the owners got royally dinged when they bought the place, and their asking price (presumably based on their grandiose opinion of the value) is insane. I had it appraised, and we offered them about 73% of what they asked. Because their asking price is so crazy, we sent a copy of the appraisal to prove we weren’t playing a joke on them.

The contract expired a few days ago. The sellers didn’t respond, so now there is no contract. The realtor said they were shocked by the offer. I’ve been talking to him about other properties, but he says they need a little more time because they might make a counteroffer.

I don’t know if they need time or not. I think six days is plenty of time to come up with a counteroffer on a property which has already been appraised. I think they’re trying to jerk me around. The big problem with that is that I’m not sure I want the house now.

I have a friend who lives up there, and she wisely pointed out that the snowbirds have left the area. They go home when the weather gets warm. They’re the people who buy houses. That means the market will be slow until late fall. On top of that, during this dead time, all the sellers up there will have to maintain their houses and pay for their mortgages and so on. They’re racking up losses every day. New inventory is appearing, the old stuff isn’t going away, and things are looking good from where I sit. I have no incentive to wait around or play games.

I found a couple of new places. One is a huge new house on a lot full of big oaks. It’s very, very nice. It has no shop building, but they’re cheap to build, and they go up fast. Not an issue. There’s a vacant lot next to it, and it would be nice to buy that as well. Problem: several acres of each lot are flood zones. This wouldn’t affect the house or shop, but it would make it hard to subdivide later, and I’m sure it makes the land less desirable. I don’t know how much it matters, but it’s a consideration.

There’s another place that looks good. It’s not far from Micanopy, the town where Doc Hollywood was filmed. The house is halfway between Ocala and Gainesville, which is the site of the University of Florida.

The location is remote with regard to Ocala, but it’s within 20 minutes of the Gainesville Lowe’s, and there are a lot of restaurants nearby. My dad likes to eat lunch in restaurants. Also, the medical care is probably better there. The house is secluded. The lot is ringed with trees. There’s a wooded lot next door, and we might be able to snag it.

The house is big. It has a big front porch, a big back porch, an office, a den, a living room, and two master suites. The lot varies in elevation, which means it comes with its own pistol backstop. Not bad.

It has no workshop, but again, this is something that can be corrected easily.

The dirt is good. It’s something called Blichton sand. By Florida standards, it’s above average. You can grow things in it.

The current owners have decorated the place with citrus trees and blueberry bushes. Sounds nice, but a lot of that would have to go. They did something really stupid: they ran the driveway right up the center of the property, and they put trees on either side. A driveway on a rural property is supposed to be beside the fence so it doesn’t cut the land up. The driveway is grass except for the part by the house and the part by the road, so moving it would not be hard. Anyway, most of those trees would have to be cut.

The citrus trees are doomed anyway. The citrus blight which is destroying crops all over the world is going to find these trees eventually.

I’m not going to sweat. I’m not going to let anyone rip my dad off. I have choices. The house we made an offer on is fine, and so is the one with the porches. Both are infinitely superior to anything in Miami.

I hope I’ll have good news soon.

A Weld of Difference

Thursday, April 27th, 2017

MIG Skills Improved by TIG Failures

As a master of all conceivable types of TIG welding, I feel it is time to bless the confused and evil-smelling masses with an update on my metal-joining escapades.

A while back I got myself a length of 2″ x 1/8″ flat hot-rolled steel from Home Depot. The price was not that bad, and the metal looked surprisingly good. I needed something to practice on, and the nearest metal dealer is way down the road.

I was confused by the appearance of the steel. I’ve had hot-rolled that looked like it had lumpy black enamel on it, and I’ve had hot-rolled that had a nice matte black scale that looked like the black oxide they put on tools, but this stuff wasn’t black at all, and it was smooth. I wondered if it could possibly be cold-rolled. I’ve never had any reason to buy cold-rolled steel, so I don’t really know what it looks like.

Hot-rolled steel is steel which has been formed while red hot. It’s cheaper than cold-rolled, which is not as hot when formed. I assume hot-rolled is cheaper because it’s easier to form hot steel. Hot-rolled comes with black mill scale on it, and mill scale is harder than steel. Mill scale interferes with welding. MIG will produce useful, if ugly, welds through mill scale. It’s my understanding that stick will burn right through it, although I don’t know. TIG hates scale. The arc will wander around, and I believe the impurities cause porosity. I assume black iron oxide is less conductive than iron, so that must be what causes the arc problem.

The metal I bought did, in fact, have scale on it. I guess it was thin scale, because the metal isn’t black, but I can tell it’s there, because a flap disk bounces off of it. It takes forever to remove it.

Removing the scale has been the single most annoying thing I’ve had to do in my pursuit of TIG excellence.

I got myself a nice flap disk just for scale removal, but as noted above, it didn’t work too good. Then I tried the belt grinder. This is a 3-HP steel-eating machine that can consume a piece of angle iron like a fat kid sucking up a strand of spaghetti. The scale is too much for it. It comes off, but it’s very slow. Grinding disks work, but they gouge the work, and only a small part of a grinding disk contacts the metal, so removing scale is like using a Sharpie to turn a shoebox black.

I cleaned some pieces anyway, and I graduated from laying beads on flat metal to making fillet welds. Here’s the problem with that: when you weld one side of a piece of metal, new scale grows on the other side, so if you prepare two pieces of metal and do a fillet weld on one side, you have to descale them all over again before you do the back.

You can prevent metal from re-scaling by directing inert gas at the back side. That would require more tools and a lot of aggravation, so I’m not going to do it.

My solution is to TIG my clean metal, and then, when new scale appears, move on to MIG. The new scale isn’t bad enough to bother MIG.

If you want to avoid scale removal, buy cold-rolled, weld aluminum instead of steel, or get “pickled and oiled” steel. This is hot-rolled which has been de-scaled with acid and then oiled to keep new rust from forming.

I got a pleasant surprise from all of this. While I was struggling to learn TIG, I got a lot better at MIG. TIG takes a lot more skill, and the skills transfer to MIG. For TIG, you have to develop the ability to see what you’re doing. You have to have a steady torch hand. Same stuff applies to MIG. When I went back to MIG, I found myself producing very decent welds. I could see the puddle much better than I had in the past, and I was better at aiming the torch.

I cut two short pieces of steel, offset them a little, and clamped them together for lap welding. You see the result below. It looks better in person. Anyway, there isn’t much porosity, the welds are pretty uniform, and everything is just about where it’s supposed to be. If I put in another week, I should be able to make welds nice enough to put where people can see them. There are basically two grades of welds: display-worthy and not. Most MIG welders never get to the point where they can make welds that look good enough to be placed on the front of things.

The horrible mess behind the nice weld is a TIG weld I put down later. I cleaned everything very well, except for the underside of the top piece of metal. When it got hot, it started pumping fumes into the weld.

I bought a nice belt grinder, and while I like it a lot, the welds in it are total garbage. They look like a monkey did them. Belt grinders don’t take much stress, so monkey welds are fine, but it’s an example of the low standards most welders adhere to. I’ve seen a lot of photos of welds done by amateurs and even by professionals who aren’t primarily welders, and crap welding is the norm. I would like to do a little better than that.

My MIG welds are now better than my TIG welds. I never thought they would be this good, and I almost wonder if I should have bought the TIG welder. One of the main reasons I bought it was that TIG welds are more precise and better looking.

No! That’s insane. You should always buy whatever tool you think it is that you want. There is no such thing as a tool you don’t need.

I’m still not satisfied with my helmet. I was having a problem where all I could see was a hot weld arc and a sea of blackness. I was literally positioning the torch, flipping the helmet down, and welding where I THOUGHT I needed to be. I improved things by adding a magnifying lens and turning the shade down to the minimum, but things could be better. I’m thinking my issue may be caused by age. I don’t see contrast as well as I used to.

A couple of days ago, I had a weird experience. I’m pretty sure I welded with the helmet turned off. That means I had a shade somewhere below 5. I was protected from UV, because the glass alone will do that, but I don’t think I had any help with the glare. I saw pretty well. It took me a minute or so to realize what was going on. Now I’m wondering if I even need to turn the helmet on.

If my eyes are so bad I can weld with the helmet turned off, how am I able to drive and get around? Search me.

I finally found a really excellent Youtube welding resource. There are tons of welding videos on Youtube, but some are better than others. A welder named Jody runs a site called Welding Tips and Tricks. He fills the Internet with helpful videos that took a lot of work to create. All he asks in return is that you buy his product, the TIG Finger. This is a knitted fiberglass thing that goes over your finger to keep torch heat off of it. Very useful.

I hate to say this, but a competitor of his makes a knockoff “Finger” with a wrist strap to keep it from falling off, and I bought one. I kept dropping the original TIG Finger every time I put the torch down. Oh well. I did buy the original, so I think I’m off the hook. If you know where to get the fiberglass, you can make your own and avoid getting caught between bitter competitors.

I’ve put in all this work, and now I wonder if I should have started with stick welding. A stick welder will weld crappy metal outdoors in the wind (not suitable for MIG and TIG), and stick welders aren’t expensive. Bonus: no gas required. For some reason, people look down on stick, but I’ve seen the welds, and they look very nice. My TIG has a stick clamp, so I can learn stick whenever I choose.

One of these days I’ll do a TIG weld correctly, and you will see pictures here. I’m still working on my beer opener. I turned the end of a big Craftsman wrench into an opener, and I’m going to put it on a stainless back plate and mount it on a wall. Once that’s done, I’ll order an Swag Offroad finger brake kit for my hydraulic press (don’t ask) and weld it together so I can have one more tool I don’t use.

If you want to feel like a man and not a hopeless metrosexual snowflake, get yourself a MIG or stick welder and get started. It doesn’t even matter if you don’t need to weld anything. That’s not the point. If you can’t weld, there is something wrong with you. You need to fix it.

Tools of Removal

Tuesday, April 25th, 2017

BYE

Thanks for the prayers and kind thoughts regarding the move out of Miami. I really need those prayers.

Today I’m trying to figure out where to put my tools. If the deal goes through, I’ll have a 900-sq. ft. garage and a frame outbuilding the same size. I’m thinking I should put my metalworking tools in the garage and most of my woodworking tools in the outbuilding. Woodworking makes a real mess.

The new garage is 33 feet across the front and 25 feet deep. I have to decide where to put things. I feel like I only have to worry about the big compressor, the mill, and the lathe. Everything else is on wheels or light enough to move.

I’m thinking the lathe should be positioned so the tailstock faces a garage door. if I ever have to turn a long part, I’ll be able to open the door for clearance. Right now, my mill is in a corner (the classic Bridgeport location), and I’m tired of it. The space behind the mill is inaccessible and useless. I think I should put the mill along the same wall as the lathe. That will allow me to use the space behind the table for carts and so on. I could put a cart back there and put my heaviest rotary table on it.

I’m not sure about the compressor. I suppose the location should be sort of central, but I don’t want it out in the floor. I guess I could put it along the back wall in the middle.

The garage will have to have A/C. I can’t sit out there in 90-degree heat. I guess that means a split unit, and that won’t be cheap. A wall unit would probably be too small. I’ll also need upgraded power. I can’t run a 7.5-HP lathe on 15 amps at 120 volts. I’m wondering what a 3-phase run would cost. A lot, I suppose.

When all this is said and done, my big table saw, which I love, will be 100 feet away from my machine tools. So will the big vertical band saw. That’s inconvenient, but I don’t want to ruin a big new garage by cramming woodworking tools into it.

The house has a barn. I think that would be a good place for the tractor. It would really open up the outbuilding. I will never have a horse (I hope) so it’s not like the barn will be unavailable.

I don’t even know if the seller will talk to us after getting lowballed. You have to have a backbone when you buy expensive stuff, though. You can’t just give someone a hundred grand to make them like you.

The realtor asked about earnest money. That sounded odd, in the context of a cash sale. The purpose of earnest money (a deposit) is to put a buyer’s head in a vise so he will have motivation to get a loan. If you don’t get it done, the seller keeps your money. If you’re planning to pay cash, it should be enough that the seller knows you have the loot. When the deal closes, it’s a simple sale contract. As soon as the inspections are done, you write a check. You’re already obligated, if you screw up, the seller can sue you, and he knows you’re not judgment-proof, so what’s the purpose of a deposit? An executed contract should be enough.

If this deal doesn’t work, the next one will. I will escape Miami’s gravity well. The joy of leaving this place for the last time may be too much for my system to cope with.

Everybody hates Miami. I mean, nearly everybody. If you speak no English at all, and/or you’re extremely rude and coarse, and you love taking 15 minutes to drive three miles, it’s the place for you. Otherwise, no.

I will post updates as things change.

House

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Time to Chop Miami’s Stubborn Tentacles

The house hunt has moved into a new stage. I made an offer on the green house I wrote about a while back.

I am not what you would call a savvy real estate buyer, even though I was a realtor in a past life. I did mostly rentals. While I was part of some sales, real estate is boring, and I forgot a lot of what I had learned. I did the best I could this time around. I picked my dad’s brains. He has bought a ton of real estate. In fact, he’s buying the new house. That was the deal we made. I would not leave Miami until he did, and he would buy a nice place where we would both live. He needs looking after these days, my mother has been dead for 20 years, and there is no one else who will do it.

I considered hiring a single-agent realtor. Ordinarily, realtors look out mainly for themselves. They deal “fairly” with buyers and sellers, but if you’re a buyer, they’re not on your side. There are things they won’t tell you, and they don’t care if you lose your life savings. A single-agent represents you alone and has a fiduciary duty to you.

The problem with hiring a single-agent realtor is that they get a big fee up front, and they can’t show you any of their own listings. That’s not good, if your agent works for a big company. Also, you’re kind of stuck with the agent you hire. I decided to forget about it and negotiate and so on for myself.

I don’t know a whole lot about northern Florida house prices, but after looking at a bunch of places, I got a feel for the situation. The house we liked seemed overpriced by around 15%. The sellers paid even more for it, so they got burned, and they were still burning me after pricing the house to take a loss.

I decided to get an appraisal. I may not be much of a buyer, but I’ve been involved in a lot of sales, and an appraisal just seemed like common sense. I had a listing agent, a transactional agent, and a seller, all trying to get as much money as possible, and none of them represented me. I paid some guy to appraise the place, and lo and behold, the price came in slightly lower than my own guess. The listing price is 18% higher.

The agent was amazed that I had it appraised. He said very few people do that. Seriously? Do people really make bids on houses without getting appraisals? I can’t comprehend that. How do you know what to offer? Asking prices are fantasy figures. Realtors make a little effort to look at comparable sales, but in the end, they guess. Appraisers aren’t like that. They take measurements and use tables and so on, and THEN they factor in other sales. No price is carved in stone, but an appraisal means a whole lot more than an asking price.

Maybe I’m missing something here, but it seems crazy to make an offer on something without knowing the value. The appraisal was expensive, but compared to the difference between the asking price and the appraised price, it’s microscopic. Seems like a good investment.

The agent was trying to tell me I couldn’t get burned. He said his contracts always say the deal is off if the house doesn’t appraise for more than the purchase price. So you’re supposed to make an offer based on nothing and then pray the bank’s appraiser proves you’re right? With real money you actually worked for?

I think the sellers are old. The house has two lift chairs in it. By that, I mean they boost you to your feet when it’s time to go watch Judge Wapner. God rest his soul. Young people don’t have lift chairs. Maybe they’re old and rich and don’t care at all about money. There must be some reason why they spent way too much on the house and equipment and then never felt like they had to visit.

I don’t know what the story is. I’m not all that optimistic about getting the house. The asking price and offer are nearly $200,000 apart. They may just tell us to jam it.

It would be nice to make a deal. The house has a fantastic attached garage plus a detached garage big enough for all sorts of stuff. I can put a split air conditioner in the main garage and stick my machine tools in there. I’ll never leave. It’s almost a thousand square feet. The lot is big enough to feel relaxed on, although sooner or later someone will try to build on the pasture next door. Maybe we should try to pick it up.

I can’t imagine life with no traffic. What’s it like? I barely recall.

I don’t think I’ll be able to shoot out back. The lot is pretty flat. Maybe if I put up a berm.

I feel good that I made a move. It makes me nervous, handling my dad’s money. He’s all for it, though, and both of us hate Miami. I needed to break the ice and start something moving. Now if this deal doesn’t work, I’ll be less stiff about starting the next one.

What will I miss about Miami? There must be something. Fishing was fun, but I’m over it. Boating to the Bahamas was a neat experience, but I’m old, my dad can’t be allowed to steer the boat, and there is no one to go with us. Also, the Bahamas are all about drunkenness and fish. I don’t care if I never see another fish again, and I have developed an aversion to bars.

Miami has no culture at all. The restaurants aren’t great. The air smells like damp socks. There is no twilight, because of the latitude. After May 1, it never gets cool at night. The traffic is getting so bad, in a year, everything may have to arrive by drone. All the ethnic groups hate each other. Gas is expensive. Food is expensive. Politics are getting more and more liberal; young Cubans want to be social justice warriors and teach their conservative parents a lesson.

Horrible things happened to my family in Miami. I can’t even drive up I-95 without thinking about the past. I remember my dysfunctional childhood and the decades of misery we went through with my sister. I remember my mother dying in Baptist Hospital, after a short, bleak life in which not one of her dreams came true. She was treated very badly. She was never appreciated. God did her a favor when he took her away from us.

I never have anything to do with the people I went to high school with. They remind me of a terrible time in my life, and I was never close to any of them anyway. I thought I had a few friends, but I didn’t know what real friends were like until I got older. If I were in a mall right now and I saw someone I went to high school with, I’d turn away and wait for them to move on.

I should be able to think of something I’ll miss if I work on it long enough, but right now, it’s not coming. Even the churches here treated me badly.

Let’s be honest. I won’t miss Miami at all. That’s my nature. When I cut the cord, it’s really cut. Ask any of the many people I’ve abruptly ejected from my circle. I expect to be glad I’m not in Miami, every day for the rest of my life.

People in Marion County will not turn out to be the answer to my prayers. I know that, or at least I think I know that. But they’ll speak English, they’ll be polite, and they’ll have a lot more in common with me in terms of religion and politics. That’s good enough. I don’t think I’ll ever feel at home on earth, but some places are better than others.

Because this will be a cash deal, I could conceivably find myself moving stuff north before summer starts. I didn’t think about that until today. Generally, closings take a long time because of mortgage delays. Man. This is starting to feel real. Ack. God will get me through it.

Prayers would be appreciated.

Green With Desire

Sunday, April 9th, 2017

Plus Wild Guesses About Foreign Policy

I am trying to make sense of the Syria bombing.

I think it’s safe to say that most Trump voters want the US to spend less time being the adult in a room full of children. We have spent a lot of time trying to save nations that didn’t deserve or consent to be saved. To provide two examples, the Somalis and Afghans aren’t ready for civilization. The South Vietnamese weren’t unified in support of freedom and capitalism. The Iraqis are still pretty wobbly. We assume everyone loves democracy, but a lot of people in Iraq actually prefer a dictatorship; something about having a big, strong scary warlord look after them.

Trump the candidate was against intervening too much in the affairs of other countries. Trump the president just bombed Syria over a completely internal matter: the gassing of Syrians by the Syrian government. What a bizarre week this has been. Many liberals actually took a break from vandalizing Ivana Trump shoe displays in malls to back up Trump’s Syrian adventure. Many conservatives are wondering if Trump has gone native in liberal, globalist DC.

To add to the complexity, Trump greatly offended Vladimir Putin when he bombed Syria. The baseless leftist narrative up till now has been that Trump is Putin’s puppet. Somehow, Putin bribed a billionaire to run for president and do his bidding. Because it’s so easy to find things a billionaire can’t get without Putin’s help. Such as…???

Trump gave up billions of dollars in potential earnings to become president, yet we’re supposed to believe he has some venal motive involving compensation from Putin. What compensation could Putin offer that would begin to make up for what Trump gave up voluntarily? No such compensation exists.

Liberals could not understand that, so they pushed the ridiculous Russian Connection. What can they say now? That it’s an inside job? That Putin got Trump to bomb Syria to cover up their ties? It looks like the Russia canard is finally dead, except among the truly insane.

Maybe nuclear war will convince the stragglers Trump is sincere.

Some conservatives like the fact that Trump showed courage and initiative. Obama’s foreign policy consisted mostly of apologizing and selling out American workers. Trump realizes he’s our president, not China’s or Mexico’s. It’s good that Trump is not letting us get pushed around quite so much. I can see why people are happy he took some sort of stand on something.

I’m not sure what to think of the attack. I don’t read the news as much as I used to. My overall impression is that what Trump did will work out well, provided he stops now.

It’s hard to argue with anyone who sends 59 affordable missiles, with no boots on the ground, to kill totalitarian goons who use poison gas on civilians (or anyone else). You can argue that every nation in the world has an interest in deterring the use of gas. But now the Syrians, no doubt with Russia’s help, are attacking the gassed area again, with conventional weapons. Trump needs to let that slide. When you go from punishing the use of gas to punishing other countries for suppressing rebels, you cross the line from reasonable intervention to overweening nannyism. All over the world, various nations are attacking each other with conventional weapons, and we need to understand that it’s not always (or often) our place to jump in and break it up. Often, it’s not even possible to do an effective job. We just waste money and lives, and we make the world resent us even more.

If Trump stays out of Syria now, in my opinion, it will show he knows what he’s doing. If he decides to be the Lone Ranger plus the Magnificent Seven, it will suggest he’s winging it and forgetting all about his campaign platform.

Whatever he does, he needs to coerce the Muslims to accept Syrian refugees. It’s amazing that we’re expected to take them when the Saudis are afraid of them.

It’s hard to guess what he’ll do. He has been a conservative for less time than it takes paint to dry, so for all we know, he could morph into Obama this year. How sincere is his conversion? No one knows.

If he goes all New World Order on us, at least we got Gorsuch out of it, and we stopped Hillary Clinton. Unless two Supreme Court justices die in the near future, we should have a relatively sane panel up there determining our fate. That’s a big deal. One more Ginsburg would almost be grounds for mass suicide. Cuba-style property seizures and the internment of conservative undesirables would be less than a decade away.

Here is how I feel: Ronald Reagan and George Washington didn’t run in 2016, so we voted as well as we could. Trump is much better than the president we deserve, so I am content.

In other news, I am planning to make an offer on a house. My dad and I made a deal a long time ago, and now he’s holding up his end. He’s going to get a place up north, and I will go with him and look after him. For what we are willing to spend, given the location constraints you get with an elderly person, we are pretty much limited to properties under 25 acres. We found a neat place in northern Florida, and I am hoping we can work something out with the sellers.

I can put up a photo or two. The green paint is not what I would have gone with, but it’s helpful if it discourages other buyers.

The place comes with a big outbuilding, a small horse barn, and a lonnnnnnnng driveway with a sturdy steel gate. You can see a grand total of one other house from the yard. There is a big 3-car garage which will be perfect for machine tools and a split air conditioner. I would rather have 300 acres farther out, but this is good enough. It’s a whole lot better than what I expected.

The property appraised for much less than the asking price, so that’s a concern. The sellers got royally taken when they bought the farm, and they may not realize that yet. When they get their own appraisal, maybe they’ll see things our way.

Some people are surprised I paid for an appraisal already. I don’t get that. How else would I know what to offer? Realtors pull listing prices out of thin air. Also, appraising is not a guessing game. There are rules and tables and so on. You have to be trained and licensed. It’s much better than relying on your gut instinct. That being said, my gut instinct was pretty close to the appraised value.

If I lose a few hundred bucks because the sellers won’t listen to reality, good for me. It beats overpaying by a hundred grand.

Obvious.

I don’t think anyone should criticize me, given that the sellers overpaid by maybe $200,000.

I can’t wait to leave Miami. There is literally nothing here I will miss. You don’t have to worry about me turning into a pillar of salt. To me, “goodbye” means “goodbye.” Ask anyone I’ve cut loose. I don’t come around a week later asking to be taken back. I amaze people with my clean breaks. I don’t miss the friends I cut off. I don’t miss anyone I dated. If I decided to rid myself of you, it was because you made me miserable and made my mind up for me.

My dad has had it with Miami, too. The traffic is much worse than it was even five years ago, and the people are as rude as ever. He can’t really get around any more; he forgets where he’s going. If he has to go anywhere other than a few very familiar places, I have to drive him. Maybe in northern Florida, with its simple grid and low traffic, he would be able to do a little more driving without fear of becoming a silver alert.

The other night, I was lying in bed, and I started imagining how nice it would be not to have the neighbors’ security lights shining in my window, and to be awakened by the alarm clock instead of construction crews and garbage men playing rap music on their truck radios. I can’t even imagine it. And what does a dark sky look like? What does twilight look like? Do they have twilight in northern Florida? We don’t have it here. It’s sunny, then a little grey appears in the sky, and then BLAM, it’s dark. Then, if it’s Saturday night and you’re trying to sleep so you can get up early for church, the loud salsa music starts.

If this property doesn’t work, I’m going back to the list to check the next two options. I will not waste time.

What’s happening is the breaking of a stronghold. I chose Miami. I chose rebellion. I chose to turn down a life of prayer. I gave myself to the filthy spirits that run South Florida, and they held on tight. Then I wised up, and it took me quite some time to break the chains I had put on myself. You can’t expect God to jump up and rescue you instantly when your problems were caused by rejecting him. It will be very kind of God to save me at all. I’m not upset that it took so long. I’m just glad he’s willing to do it while I’m still alive and relatively able.

Maybe if the Norks bomb Miami and Atlanta, I’ll be far enough away to avoid fallout and grow my own food. The farm has a well and a generator. Whatever happens, it will beat being in Miami, surrounded by God-hating throngs of people who will gladly invade my house and take what I have just because I’m an old white Christian who supports Israel and voted for Trump. Miami is mostly ghettos, and ghetto people don’t take care of themselves. They let other people care of them, in exchange for votes. They are not prepared for an interruption of the food supply. They don’t save money. If life gets hard, they will invade homes to loot, and if they find the residents inside, they will punish them as 1% oppressors.

You don’t have to be a white supremacist to be concerned about anti-white racism. It’s very real, it’s widespread, it’s extremely cruel and ruthless (because it’s based on a victimhood mentality) and it’s nothing to take lightly. It simmers all the time, but as I personally witnessed after Hurricane Andrew, disasters make it boil over into plain view. We can’t change it, but we can make some effort to protect ourselves with distance. And there are some places where whites, blacks, and Mexicans are not at each other’s throats, believe it or not.

After Andrew, many people had to sit in their front yards holding firearms. And that was just a hurricane. The looters still had food, and the government was busy helping them with their needs. They didn’t loot because of need; it was just sorriness and meanness. A lot of people are just waiting for an excuse to hurt others.

No one, regardless of race, should live within 20 miles of a ghetto. I’m about two miles away from two ghettos, and seedy, violent downtown Miami is only five miles away.

I would appreciate prayers regarding my choice of geographical location and the purchase of a house. I don’t know what I’m doing. Only God knows where I should be.

Thanks for any help you can give me. I look forward to blogging my move.

Unpopular Mechanics

Saturday, April 8th, 2017

Wrong Articles Lovingly Crafted by Men Wearing Spanx

I guess I’ll never get tired of bashing Popular Mechanics. I subscribed a few years back, and I let the subscription lapse because the magazine was worthless. It was full of articles introducing suspiciously diverse startup executives with an average age of 15. “Chu Ming Wai is one of Silicon Valley’s first lesbian, Chinese, vegan, body-mod enthusiast 3-D printer designers, and her new printer, the Sapphobot, only prints using free-trade tofu thread!” Yeah, okay; I’m aware that people who aren’t old white men start companies. What does this have to do with choosing the best drill press?

They also filled their pages with articles that were really ads, and the ads were for bad products. One wonders if payola was involved. “You really need this wi-fi-ready solar-powered hammer that also plays Justin Bieber MP3s! Watch as transgender startup exec Devadip Jaigurudevaom-Gonzalez uses it to peel sustainable-farmed vanilla beans for his homeopathic mocha and quinoa-paste enema!”

The magazine proudly features articles written by people who admit they don’t know anything about tools. What????!!!! I don’t think it was always like that. I’m pretty sure it used to be staffed by incredibly savvy old guys who wore khaki pants up to their armpits, slicked their hair with Vitalis, killed all sorts of Japanese on Okinawa, and knew how to weld mine-damaged landing craft hulls with a Zippo.

Glenn Reynolds writes for Pop Mech. Come on. You and I both know what’s in his tool collection: a hammer with one broken claw and a butter knife he thinks is a screwdriver.

I just found an interesting Internet post from Pop Mech. Some Redditor was using an angle grinder with a cutoff disk, and the disk blew up. He posted a photo of himself wearing safety glasses in which a disk fragment is deeply imbedded. Pop Mech’s title: “This is Why You Wear Safety Glasses.”

Here’s the thing. When you use a cutoff disk with an angle grinder, you don’t wear safety glasses. You wear a face shield, ear plugs, safety glasses, leather gloves, a leather apron, and a dust mask. Better yet, hand the grinder to someone like Reynolds and dare him to do the job.

It’s no wonder they were wrong. The guy who wrote the piece is a kid named Eric. From his aggressively hip, kooky byline photo, he appears to be about nine. I looked at his stuff. It’s all about encryption, ISP’s, and wearing women’s underwear. I may have made that last bit up. Anyway, he’s no Charlie Allnut. He probably whispers “lefty loosey” when he backs out the screws on an Ipad.

Electronics and Mechanics, in the Pop Mech sense of the word, are about as closely related as the Bolshoi Ballet and plumber’s crack. There is nothing mechanical about turning on your PC and logging into 4chan.

Grinders are fascinating, because they look safe but they’re incredibly dangerous. I was using one a few years back, and even though I was wearing glasses and a face shield, a piece of a wire knot flew right into my eye. I never did understand that. But grinders are treacherous.

The guy in the Reddit photo did not do it right, regardless of what Eric the Half-a-Handyman thinks (obscure reference). He only wore glasses. If the fragment had missed them, it could have torn through his lips and gone into his mouth. It could have shredded a thumb. It could have gone into his belly.

Grinder bits have been known to go through face shields, enter people’s abdominal cavities, and tear fingers off. Writing this, I’m starting to wonder why I own one.

When you use a grinder, you have to be very smart. You can’t put pressure on it. You have to keep as much of yourself as possible out of the disk plane. You can’t twist the disk. You have to leave the guard on the machine. You have to make sure no one is in front of you. Come on, Eric. You’re getting paid. You should know this.

Of course, while I’m willing to lecture and criticize, I use a grinder unsafely all the time. I have to knock that off. I don’t even own an leather apron. I don’t wear gloves when I use it. I really need to get on top of that, as of today.

I read an interesting remark about combat, from one Paul Schussel. He’s a World War Two vet. He said you go into battle thinking, “It can’t happen to me.” Then you start thinking it can happen to you if you’re not careful. Then you realize it WILL happen to you, no matter what you do. If you don’t get sent home, eventually you will be hurt or killed. Tools work the same way. Bad stuff is going to happen, and the more you like and use tools, the sooner and more often you can expect it. You need to be serious and knowledgeable about safety. Unlike Eric, Devadip, and Chu Ming.

Pop Mech used to be a neat and very manly magazine. I know because you can find PDF’s on the Internet. “Build Your Own Metal Lathe.” “Build a Bullet Trap for Your Basement.” “Use Your Cranium as an Anvil for Making Horseshoes.” “Set Fire to Your Face With an Acetylene Torch, Deliberately, and Stand in Front of Your Horrified Kids Laughing to Show Them What Kind of Men Came Back From Iwo Jima With Sea Bags Full of Japanese Ears.”

Those days are gone forever. Maybe the smart move is to collect old PDF’s.

I don’t have time to gripe about safety all day, so I’ll offer a brief tip. If you haven’t been trained to use a drill press, bench grinder, angle grinder, table saw, or metal lathe, and you use any of these tools regularly, you are probably going to send yourself or a pal to the ER one day. For no good reason at all.

Eric, meanwhile, will be defying the odds if he scalds his pinky steaming almond milk for his cappuccino.

Happy tooling.

The Stig of TIG

Friday, April 7th, 2017

From F to C-Minus

I have become a total TIG welding expert.

Perhaps that’s an exaggeration. It would be more accurate to say I have put down a few beads that wouldn’t elicit shrieking from an instructor if he glanced at them from across a street in the dark.

If you’ve been keeping up, you know I got a Chinese TIG machine recently, and I’ve been trying to make it function. I clamped some crap steel to the tool rest of my belt grinder and tried to make fillet welds. After that, I tried to lay beads down on a piece of angle iron and some rectangular tubing that came from a treadmill.

The first effort was a horror. Since then, I’ve managed to create some beads that could almost be called welds. Things keep getting better.

I have a few tips for other beginners. Believe it or not, these tips are really good.

1. Get a real welding jacket. Cotton is fine. I got a Tillman 9230. It’s extremely ugly, but it’s heavy flame-retardant cotton, and it’s made with welding in mind. The sleeves have snaps at the cuffs that tighten them up to keep UV out and make the cuffs fit inside welding gloves. It’s better than the crummy old dress shirt I used to use.

2. Go ahead and buy some gas lenses. I’m not sure why welders ship with regular nozzles, since most people agree that gas lenses are better the vast majority of the time. For around thirty bucks, Welding City will send you good Chinese lenses and the associated collets and so on. With a lens you will be able to stick the tungsten farther out and see what you’re welding. It will also shorten up the torch.

3. Get a welding table. Don’t be so cheap. I’ve welded things on the garage floor and my wooden bench, but I don’t recommend it. Welding on wood is always exciting, because you have to think about the weld while keeping an eye on the wood to see if it’s on fire. Welding on the floor is awkward. That’s fine for MIG, but it won’t work with TIG, which takes much more coordination. Harbor Freight has a great table for $55 (after coupon). It’s small and light. It folds away fast. It doesn’t begin to compare to an inch-thick monster that will hold the rear end from a car, but for 95% of your jobs, it will work great. It has lots of slots, and you can clamp things to it. You’ll like it.

For three times as much, you can get a different version that comes with clamps, welding magnets, and wheels. I forget the brand name.

4. Find some decent metal to weld. I’ve been using angle iron and powdercoated tubing. Half of my welding time is taken up cleaning crap off the metal. Save yourself the aggravation and buy something that isn’t covered with scale, paint, or powdercoating.

5. Buy a torch holder. Riverweld makes a magnetic job which is magnificent. The magnet must be rare earth, because it holds like an alligator. If you don’t have a holder, you’re going to put your torch on the floor or try to hang it on things, and it will fall and break the ceramic cup.

6. Buy a BSX Flak Finger. This is a fiberglass sleeve you put your ring finger and pinky into. It doesn’t transmit heat. You will want to rest your right hand on the work for control, and the work will get very hot. The Flak Finger will keep you cool, and because it has a wrist strap to hold it in place, it won’t fall off a hundred times a day, like a competitor’s product, the Tig Finger.

7. You’re going to be welding 1/8″ steel. That’s pretty much inevitable, because it’s what’s most widely available for practice. For this material, use a 3/32″ tungsten (purple rare earth is fine), not 1/16″ like the books recommend. Use 3/32″ filler. Set the amps at 125 (one per thousandth of material). You should be fine.

8. Consider a belt grinder for tungsten. Grinding electrodes will mess up your bench grinder by gouging the wheel. If you use a belt grinder, you can dedicate one belt to electrodes. If you ever feel like you have to be super careful about contamination, you just grab a new belt.

9. Get a couple of Strong Arm clamps. These are just like Bessey clamps, but they’re Chinese. They’re very well made, and they come with a neat tubing attachment. You’ll like them for holding stuff on the table.

10. Get a knot wheel for your angle grinder. If you don’t have an angle grinder, get an angle grinder. These things clean metal fast.

As noted in earlier posts, I have an Eastwood “Professional Welding Cart,” which is a two-tier cart with rings for two bottles. Actually, I have two carts, because the first one I ordered had a minor defect, and instead of sending the defective part, Eastwood sent a second cart. I now have the TIG on the bottom shelf, my MIG on the top shelf, a 125-cu.ft. argon tank in one ring, and an 80-cu.ft. C25 tank in the other. It’s very nice. If you’re looking for a two-welder cart, this one is one of the best Chinese choices. A lot of the others are known to bend and fall apart.

The AlphaTIG welder just barely fits on the bottom shelf of this cart. You have to put it on the cart before you attach the top shelf, and then the clearance is about 1/4″. Good enough! You’ll have problems with the transparent panel cover staying in the up position, because the shelf will be in the way, but that’s a small price to pay.

I’ll post a photo of my latest “welds.” The ones at top left are the undersides of beads from an earlier session.

These are not great welds, but they’re better than the random blobs I put down the first time around. They’re grey, and I think that’s caused by overdoing the amperage. Not sure. I don’t know if the penetration is good. I should cut the steel and see.

I had a big problem with my left glove heating up. It turned out I was leaning the torch too far, so it was pointed at my left hand. This melts the rod before it gets to the weld, and it also roasts your fingertips. The torch should be within 10 degrees of perpendicular.

I would say I am now good enough to TIG weld two parts in an emergency. If I wanted them done well, I would use MIG. I figure I’ll be able to do a decent TIG weld in a week or two.

I can tell TIG is going to be wonderful. MIG is fast and powerful and puts fewer demands on variables such as cleanliness and work positioning, but it’s clumsy. TIG can make beautiful, precise welds you just can’t get with MIG. You get much more control. If you want to put a muffler on a Jeep in a dirty garage while lying on your back, use MIG. If you want to put a trigger guard on a Russian shotgun, use TIG.

The welder I got is an inverter welder, and that means it doesn’t suck much power. You can run it using the socket next to your nightstand if you want. Doesn’t have to be 220 unless you weld thick metal. That’s a huge convenience. I can’t MIG weld anything more than 20 feet from my 220 socket, but I can TIG anywhere an extension cord will reach.

Filler rods are disappearing at a high rate. I go through one per session. I am told you can weld the nubs together to make new rods, but I have another tip which is better. Buy big packages, and look for deals. If you buy ten pounds of steel rods on Amazon in pound tubes, it will run you $90. If you buy one ten-pound package, and you shop around, it’s $25.

Someone gave me a neat tip for really small filler: use MIG wire. It’s the same stuff.

If I ever weld two pieces of metal together in any sort of competent fashion, I will be back to post photos.

Something New to be Bad at

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

TIG!

I am finally a TIG welder. The results so far are pretty hilarious.

TIG, for people who, unlike me, are not experts, is Tungsten Inert Gas welding. Without getting into a boring description, I will just say that it’s probably the coolest type of welding outside of bizarre things they only do at NASA. TIG produces very controlled, good-looking welds, and unlike MIG, it works very well on tiny objects.

I got myself a Chinese TIG machine because the company that makes them had a crazy sale, and I could not resist. I couldn’t find a good deal on a used American job, and I figured if the Chinese one blew up, there was a 75% chance I could fix it with my gnarly electronics skills.

The welder sat around for three weeks or so because I was scared of it. You can teach someone how to MIG (badly) in fifteen minutes. TIG is way more complicated, and it’s somewhat harder to do. It took me three days just to get the machine put together. I suppose it would have been more like an hour if I had stuck with it, but every time I figured some part of it out, I felt like I needed a day to rest and get over it.

When you TIG, generally, you will do three things at once. Your foot will regulate the heat you shoot into the weld. Your right hand will direct the arc from the torch to the workpiece. Your left hand will feed a rod of filler metal into the weld. This takes practice.

Yesterday I decided to use the torch without filler, just to see if I could guide the arc correctly on flat steel and make a molten puddle suitable for a weld. I was just learning to use the foot pedal and torch.

I had read that TIG produced more UV light than MIG. That’s not quite correct (of course, it’s more complicated than that), so I took pains to get advice on protective gear. I usually MIG in shorts and a T-shirt, which is a BAD BAD idea, but TIG scares me, so I asked around. I ended up wearing a helmet, safety glasses, a dress shirt, a T-shirt, gloves…and shorts. Come on. Change is hard.

When you MIG, you can weld metal that’s only fairly clean. You remove the paint and crap, and you hit it with a knot wheel to make sure there is no rust or scale on it, and you’re okay. TIG metal has to be cleaner. You have to get every trace of rust and scale off, and you have to wipe it down with a powerful solvent like acetone. If you stop welding and come back the next day, you will have to clean it again before you start. If you weld aluminum, you even have to worry about the invisible layer of oxide that forms the instant you expose new metal to the air.

I decided to use a crappy old piece of angle iron, which is a lumpy product that comes covered with scale that seems as hard as rubies. I had to use the belt grinder to get it clean.

I put all my protective junk on and started TIGing. It was so easy! I was liquifying the metal and pulling the torch along, and it was almost like I knew what I was doing. I figured I would be a TIG prodigy. Then I saw the bright light coming in under my helmet.

With all the neurotic effort to protect myself, I had still forgotten to close the helmet tightly against my chest, so reflected UV was bouncing off of my shirt. And of course, I looked right at it, which was pretty dumb.

I stopped TIGing instantly, went and sat on the couch, and whimpered a lot. I wondered if I had burned my corneas.

When you let welding UV hit your eyeballs, even if the UV is reflected off of walls and such, you may burn your eyes. It doesn’t cause permanent damage, but for a day or so, you feel like someone threw sand in your eyes. This is something I dread. I have never “flashed myself,” as the expression goes, but I’m absent-minded, so I live in fear of the day when I start to weld without closing my helmet.

If you flash yourself, you start to feel it after a few hours. I never felt anything. Maybe the safety glasses saved me. Maybe the light wasn’t that intense. Anyway, I was really happy about that.

Today I started over. I prepared two pieces of angle iron and clamped them at 90 degrees to each other so I could do a couple of fillet welds. A fillet weld unites two pieces of metal which are perpendicular to each other. You have to weld down in the corner.

I had high hopes, based on my success with the puddle, but things went very badly. When you TIG into a corner (I now know), it can be hard to get the arc to go where you need it to go. Both pieces of metal try to pull the arc toward them and away from the corner. I think. Anyhow, the arc kept moving around. When I concentrated on the arc, I forgot the pedal, and the amps dropped off to where I was just tickling the steel. When I thought about the arc and the pedal, I forgot about the filler and rammed it into the tungsten (part of the torch that makes the arc).

In about fifteen minutes of welding, I had to grind a new tip on the tungsten three times, so now I’m an expert at that.

The welds were horrific. I’ll post a photo. It looks like a string of poops from a steel mouse with dysentery.

Since creating this masterpiece, I’ve realized you don’t begin your TIG efforts with fillet welds. I’ll try a butt or lap weld next time. Or an autogenous (no filler) fillet weld. That’s supposed to be good for beginners. And I won’t use angle iron. I’ll find something better somewhere.

I quit after a short time because I wanted to see how the protective gear had worked. I think I was protected well enough, but if not, I would rather have 15 minutes’ worth of burns than an hour’s worth.

In spite of this disaster, I’m very upbeat about TIG. Once I can control all three parts of the apparatus at once, I’ll be able to do welding which is much more precise than MIG. Also, for reasons I do not understand, I can see what I’m doing much better than I do when I MIG. With MIG, all I see is a giant red blob.

I like the machine a lot. It looks very nice by Chinese standards, and everything (except me) works. I should be able to get years of use out of it.

Here’s my guess: if you want to weld fast, get stick or MIG, but if you want to weld really well, get a TIG. But get ready for a learning curve.

I’ll keep the world posted on my bad welding. I should be back at it tomorrow or Tuesday.

Every Business Needs a Manager

Wednesday, March 15th, 2017

Take Charge

Time to get back to writing about God.

I had a big development during the last few days. I’m always learning things about God, and when I apply them, things happen. Sometimes I learn things and then I forget them and learn other things. Then God reminds me of the things I forgot, and I apply them along with the new things. That creates a synergy, so I’m better off than before. It’s better to do several things right than one thing.

A few years back, I noticed that people in the Bible gave commands to their minds and spirits. They spoke to them as though they were servants. You can see this in the psalms. The authors will command their souls to do this or that. I believe the soul is the conscious mind. Also, the Bible says the spirits of prophets are subject to them, and Jesus sent his spirit to God when he died, implying he had authority over it.

I have started commanding my spirit when I pray. I command it to believe, to submit to God, to love, to forgive, and so on. The results are startling. I feel movement inside me. I hear groans coming from within me. It’s very strange. It’s overwhelming.

I find that it works. I have much more control over what I think about and what I feel. Since I’ve been doing it, things have gone more smoothly for me. It seems that I dont have to exert much effort in my natural strength, as long as I cover the bases in the supernatural.

That makes sense to me, because the most blessed people in the Bible were not hard workers. The Bible doesn’t say Abraham was rewarded for his hard work. He was rewarded for faith. When Moses started working hard, it was not perceived as something to admire; it was a problem. God gave him helpers to fix it. Joseph wasn’t put in charge of Egypt because of hard work. His relationship with God did it. You can find example after example in the Bible, but you will never find anyone who won God’s favor by striving.

Over and over, in the Bible, hard work is equated with servitude and defeat. It was part of Adam’s curse. Samson was cursed with hard work. Esau’s sons were cursed with servitude. So were Canaan’s descendants. Freedom from hard work is shown as a blessing. One of the nicest things God promised people was that they would live in houses other people built and have wealth other people accumulated.

Some extremely odd and unlikely things have happened to me lately. Walls I thought would never come down crumbled so fast my biggest problem was adjusting. It’s hard to stay on your feet when you get a huge blessing.

I can give you some examples. Excuse me if I repeat things I’ve mentioned before.

Several years ago, I made a deal with my dad. I would not leave Miami without him, provided he bought a place somewhere else, big enough for both of us, and moved with me. All sorts of barriers rose up. We had problems with his real estate. We had to buy my sister out of the house he owned with her and renovate it. One contractor abandoned the job. The other was very slow and inept. The city held us up for months.

A few months back, my dad claimed he had never made any promise to me. I assume he forgot, due to his memory issues. I thought I was going to have to go alone and then have to deal with his problems and responsibilities from a long distance.

I don’t want to get into all the details, but since then, one by one, his objections have disappeared. I didn’t beg him or fight with him. His mind simply changed, overnight. He decided he would move, grudgingly. Then he decided he wanted to move, provided we got his Miami house renovated first, which was completely impractical. He started saying he couldn’t stand Miami any more. Then, very suddenly, he said we could buy a new place and move before fixing the house. On his own, he started feeling bad about making me work so hard to get this done.

I found places on the Internet. I thought small, because I didn’t want to shock him with a big expense. He asked if I was sure I didn’t want to get something nicer. He said I would inherit it, and if I got married I would want a nice place. I was amazed.

We looked at places in Marion County. The one I liked best seemed remote. I was concerned he might be bored. He was also concerned. He indicated he didn’t want to be so far out. I thought we would have to start looking again. Then out of the blue, he started saying he thought it was fine. He really liked it. He wasn’t worried about driving ten minutes to get to a drugstore or having a limited number of places to go to for lunch.

The game field keeps changing so fast I can’t steady myself well enough to plan firmly.

The place I’m considering has a 25-by-36-foot workshop with a concrete slab. It has never been used. It has a big three-car garage with a beautiful epoxy floor. It has ten acres of secluded, peaceful land. The shop contains a tractor, a bush hog, and a John Deere Gator that appear unused. It’s like someone prepared the place for me, knowing I was on the way.

Can I trust the blessings I’m getting? How do you cope with the change when you go from struggling and waiting to having things handed to you? I feel like one of the four lepers who looted the empty camp of the Syrians in 2 Kings 7. They must have looked around and said, “Is this really for us?”

I don’t know if I’ll get that place, but I’m getting out. That’s a done deal.

I feel very bad for the people I know from church. Just about all of them are stuck in the fake prosperity maelstrom. The Steve Munseys and Benny Hinns and Joel Osteens are bleeding them to death. They are either leaving church in disgust or staying and getting weaker and weaker. I wish everyone could come with me.

The things Jesus said about the crooked Jews of his time are true of Christian leaders today. They don’t know the way into the kingdom, and they keep other people out. They teach people poisonous garbage in order to turn them into slaves and get them to contribute obscene amounts of money, so the preachers can spend it on the kind of trinkets known to be appealing to common white trash.

In the battle for the Pacific, the Japanese came up with smart tactics. At first, they attacked Americans on the beaches of the islands they invaded. They sent waves of soldiers to charge American guns, and they lost thousands of men. Later they let our troops land with little opposition, and they hid in huge, bomb-proof cave complexes stuffed with food and ammunition. Our casualties went way up. This is why we dropped atomic bombs on Japan. They would have used the same strategy on a gigantic scale.

The money preachers are like the Japanese. Some of the devil’s sons go after people in porn theaters and casinos, where no one is even close to God. Other sons wait in their big concrete churches, and they let us come to them. Then they attack on their own turf. They wait for us like goaltenders in hockey goals. Churches are like choke points. A lot of seekers come in the doors, and preachers pick them off by the millions. They teach them lies and keep them weak. People fail just when they think they’re finally almost home.

If this move works out for me, it will be after a long period during which I haven’t given preachers one red cent. It will happen after I spent years of “touching God’s anointed,” criticizing the prosperity preachers and accusing them of serving the devil. What would they be able to say, presented with my testimony? “Just you wait. God is going to get you any minute now!” Right. Just like he’s always one service away from giving the slaves their thirtyfold, sixtyfold, and hundredfold financial windfall. I’ll be dead and living in heaven before they see that money.

Sometimes I almost wonder if it’s possible for anyone other than a preacher to get into hell, what with all the clergymen crowding their way in.

If you want to help, pray for God to guide me and help me end up where he wants. That would be a big favor. I can’t seem to do much for my friends, but maybe I can get out of here and put some space between me and the mess.

Bugging Out

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Make Sure you Pack the Skillets and the AK-47

It has been a hard week. I spent two days in Ocala, looking at houses with my dad and my old friend Mike.

I would have blogged the trip from Ocala, but trip blogging is just an oblique way of begging thieves to rob your empty house, so I kept quiet.

For several weeks, I’ve been digging up properties online and talking to a realtor. I ran into some obstacles. First of all, Florida contains a whole lot of extremely ugly houses. I’m not picky, but there is such a thing as a house too ugly to live in. I found a number of places I could not stomach. Very sad, because sometimes great properties have bad houses.

I had another problem: a surprising number of people put two-bedroom houses or trailers on nice farms. I can’t figure that out. I suppose some of the smaller homes used to be caretaker shacks on larger farms, and once the farms were cut up, the main houses went with other parcels.

Third thing: some of these places were just too remote. I’m all for breathing room, but half an hour is too long for a drive to the nearest drugstore. Also, my dad will be with me, and I don’t think he would be thrilled about living in a place where there are only three or four decent restaurants within a half-hour’s drive. And if he needs medical care, it would be best to be fairly close in.

One place had a shop building that almost made me faint. It was maybe sixty feet long and thirty feet wide. I was told it was an RV barn. Think what I could do with that.

I found a couple of places that stood out. One is a mint-green farmhouse a rich couple used as a vacation home. They fixed it up perfectly, and then they rarely used it. It has a small barn, a beautiful shop with a concrete slab, and the nicest house I have ever been in. They even bought a new tractor and a small four-wheel drive utility vehicle. The machinery still has tags on it. It has never been used.

The mint color is odd, but I can fix that myself for a few hundred bucks.

I’ve never seen construction to equal that house. Everything fits perfectly. The woodwork is finished to perfection. The garage has a brand-new epoxy floor. It’s stunning. It would be impossible to build such a house in Miami, because no one here could do it even if they wanted to. People here have no skill.

I don’t know how they did it.

You could put a dirt berm up behind this place and shoot rifles all day. How sweet would that be?

Unfortunately, it’s pretty far out, and I don’t think the price is realistic. The owners got hammered, paying $100,000 more than what it’s probably worth now.

It’s not in the high-rent area of the county, but they’re asking a high price, and I doubt it will appreciate quickly.

The other place I like is a frame house on 16 acres of woods. I don’t want that many trees, but you can have your land timbered selectively, and because the wood is useful, you make money on the process. I could mark the trees I want gone and open it up without destroying the privacy.

The house has no outbuildings (bad), but it does have a nice 3-car garage with a gun room built into the side of it. The gun room has a heavy steel door. A smart person could open it up in a few minutes with an angle grinder, but most thieves are stupid and in a hurry.

Can’t hurt.

We would have to add a shop building. That would take time. I suppose my stuff would fit in the garage until then.

This house is closer in. No issues with distance.

I think the second house is best, but man, that first house is something. It’s magnificent. It’s like someone knew I was coming and built it for me. “Here’s your unused shop, complete with electricity and concrete slab. Here is your new tractor. Here is your huge garage. Here is your steel gate. Here is your emergency generator. Did we forget anything?”

It was wonderful to not be in Miami. The people in Marion County were great. Everyone was polite, and I only heard one conversation in Spanish.

Mike used to live in Ocala. His parents had a thoroughbred farm there, and after that, he and his wife lived near the city. He was a great resource. He knew where the best soil was. He knew what different areas of the county were like. On top of that, he’s an incredile schmooze, so he got people to open up and tell us about the properties we looked at. One lady operated a soap company out of her home. She made him take free soap and tried to get a date. She said he was cute.

Not to be outdone, I also attracted attention from females. While we were walking around the soap lady’s farm, a white horse noticed me and trotted over to the fence like she couldn’t believe I had finally arrived. She was thrilled to see me. She stuck her head over the fence and tried to get me to come over. When I walked around a barn and reappeared on the other side, she saw me, and she ran over to flirt some more.

I tried to take a dignified photo of her from the side, but she lunged at me, and this is what I got:

Mike was not happy. He has been around horses for most of his life, and she didn’t give him the time of day.

I have to decide what to do. Try to buy one of these places, or wait for something new?

There are worse problems to have. I could be upside-down on a Miami mortgage, forced to rot here until I pay it off.

My $120 Milkshake Machine

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Craigslist Seduces me Again

I have a bad habit of looking at tools on Craigslist, even when I’m determined not to buy anything. Most of the time, I’m fine, but every so often, I just have to reply.

Last week I found something really cool: a Dumore sensitive drill press. It’s like any other drill press, but it needs constant reassurance and has a poor body image. I think I’ll name it Caitlyn.

That was humor. It may not have been obvious.

How about “Dudley Dumore”?

I guess not.

Sometimes it’s interesting to go into the reasons why an unusual tool exists. This may not be one of those times, but I will do it all the same.

A sensitive drill press is a small machine that drills really small holes at very high rotational speeds. It’s a nice thing to have if you drill holes in circuit boards for electronics projects. Circuit board material is very hard on bits, so the best move is carbide, which stands up well to abrasion. Small bits require high speeds and low runout, and because carbide is very hard, it permits speeds that are even higher than small HSS bits.

Why do small bits require high speeds? I will ‘splain.

When you use a metal cutting tool such as a drill bit, what you have is a sharp metal edge being forced across whatever it is you’re cutting. As the edge cuts the work, heat is generated. If the bit gets too hot, the edge gets soft, and then the work rubs the edge off. Then you have an aggravating tool that just slides on the work.

This is why you keep getting stuck and ruining drill bits when you floor your hand drill on a 1/4″ hole. You’re supposed to limit your speed and add a little lubricant to reduce heat. About 0.001% of American men really know how to use a $20 drill.

Consider a rotating cutting tool. The speed at the outer edge will be higher than the speed farther in. The linear speed of a point on a rotating object equals the radius times the frequency of rotation (omega times r, as we former physicists like to say), so as the radius gets small, the speed drops off.

Say you have a half-inch bit, moving at x RPM. If you reduce the size to 1/8″, the speed at the outside of the bit is quartered, so to get the same cutting speed at the outer edge, you have to multiply the RPM by four. You can go slower, but you will spend a very long time drilling every hole, and besides, in addition to tolerating high speeds, carbide actually requires high speeds to cut well, for reasons I do not know.

One interesting thing about all this is that every drill bit has a cutting speed of 0 at the center, so it’s not really cutting until you move farther out. You’re cutting the metal surrounding the center and sort of pushing the metal in the center out of the way. This is why it can be helpful to start big holes with small bits. You can drill a 1/8″ pilot hole for a 1/2″ hole, running at high speed, and then when the 1/2″ bit follows up, it doesn’t have to worry about the 1/8″ of metal in the center of the hole that isn’t being cut very fast.

Sensitive drill presses work with really tiny bits. One example people have mentioned to me is the #80 bit, which is 13.5 thousandths of an inch in diameter. That’s a little over four human hair widths. You can’t just cram that in your Harbor Freight drill press and expect good things to happen.

Let’s say you have a #80 bit, and you’re cutting mild steel, which means you want the outer edge of the bit to move at around 100 feet per minute. You will want the drill to turn at about 28,000 RPM. This is around 10 times what your Harbor Freight special will do. You need a sensitive drill press.

The drill press I bought turns at 17,000 RPM. That’s not 28,000, but it beats a big drill press turning at 3000.

If speed is the main thing, why not call them “really fast drill presses” instead of “sensitive”? I don’t know. These machines have little tables you can move up and down with the work (instead of lowering the spindle), and that gives you a delicate feel for what you’re doing. I guess Dumore thinks that’s more exciting than the speed.

The drill press I found on Craigslist sells for over 900 dollars new. Wait till you see it. You’ll wonder where the money went. I’ll post a photo.

Here’s what I’m told about the expense: it goes into the chuck and motor. They have to turn the drill bit very precisely, with very little of the wobble machinists call “runout.” When you use a very expensive large drill press which is tuned perfectly, you can expect the bit to wobble about 0.003″ on each turn. This is not a problem when you’re drilling big holes in a toilet seat mount. When your drill bit is 13.5 thousandths wide, and your three-thousandths runout is almost a third of that, the drill bit will break.

The chuck on the Dumore is tiny, but it costs over a hundred dollars. A new motor retails for around $900 (like buying a new machine). Eliminating runout is not cheap.

I saw the drill press on Craigslist, and I knew exactly what it was. The price was $120. Come on. I was buying that.

I checked Ebay, and it seemed like they generally ran around $225. Low for a $900 tool. Some tools are like that. Crazy expensive new but merely expensive used.

The machine was 30 miles away, and my first chance to get there was on a Friday, during rush traffic. I can’t say “rush hour,” since the rush is pretty much a five-hour ordeal here. It took about an hour and a half each way. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t make that drive to buy air if I was drowning, but it was a miracle that the press was still available, and I had been burned by catching a similar $45 machine too late.

I drove to the seller’s house, had him turn the machine on, and handed him my money. I asked him where he got the drill press. This is the horrible part of the story. It came from his job. They had three Dumores, and he found out they were THROWING THEM OUT. He snagged one before it got to the dumpster.

So right now, two more drill presses are sitting in the landfill.

Someone needs a punch in the mouth.

The press runs fine. I haven’t checked the runout, but I would have taken it even if the chuck had needed work. Even if it can’t drill a 0.0135″ hole, it can drill a #31 hole much better than my big drill press.

Now you know what a sensitive drill press is and why they cost so much. Are you not entertained?

I think I’ll go turn it on and listen to it hum.

Escape From Miami

Monday, February 20th, 2017

Choosing Houses Takes Horse Sense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow. I just saw one for $99.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Drowning in Choices

Tuesday, February 14th, 2017

As Problems Go, This is a Nice One

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This morning I read something from 2 Peter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Adios, Al Fin

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Talk to my Taillights

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That was a joke…or was it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why am I writing about this? Not my problem.

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

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

More

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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