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Archive for February, 2009

Racks!

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Note the Fine Paint Job

I just welded up my saw blade racks, and I painted them with truck bed paint, and I’m waiting for them to dry so I can screw them to the garage wall.

Here’s a tip from a tool expert. If you don’t have a shade tree and some fishing line, it is perfectly acceptable to suspend parts on professional stands while you paint them. But it is not the favored method. Also, try to get all the paint on in one coat so you’ll get that nice bubbly dribbly effect.

I did try to paint these things correctly, but I guess I didn’t hold the can far enough away, because there was considerable bubbling. It’s not a major crisis. The paint is to discourage rust and cover the welds and grinder marks and brush marks. It really doesn’t matter. If I get tired of the bubbles I can toss the racks in a fire, clean them off, and brush Rustoleum on them.

The welds are only somewhat ugly this time. I feel quite a sense of accomplishment.

I was somewhat confused. If you have ever watched a welding DVD or read a welder manual, you know welder wire feed and gas flow are based on metal thickness. So what do you do when you weld the base of a half-inch dowel, cut at a 30-degree angle, to a 1/8″ piece of plate, with the dowel base over a 3/16″ hole?

I didn’t know, either. So I set it for 1/8″ and let fly. It was too much for the skinny side of the dowel and too little for the fat side, so I figure it averaged out. Let’s be real; if I did not achieve full penetration, it doesn’t matter. The dowels only have to be strong enough to hold maybe twenty pounds of blade, each.

I got serious spatter at one point. Not sure why. Maybe something got on the metal. I had to grind off two tiny spatter warts.

In keeping with my fine tradition of exemplary workshop safety, I welded in shorts again. Man, it makes you feel alive when a drop of spatter falls into the opening of your tennis shoes.

I have been told that welding bed rails is a bad idea, because they’re too hard, and the welds crack. I used a couple of surplus HTC mobile base rail extensions for these racks, and I wondered if they were made from the same stuff as bed rails. Ultimately, I don’t care. They were free, so if the blades break the dowels off, I can chalk it up to welding practice. I have plenty of scrap steel; I can make new racks.

Incidentally, some welders say bed rails are fine scrap. You just have to heat them properly before welding. Here’s how you do it. You get on Google, and you find the guys who said that, and you follow their instructions. I don’t know if it works, but I thought I’d mention it.

Guess I better get to work on my table saw guard.

More

How come none of you anal-retentives have noticed the tiny discrepancy between the two racks? I didn’t see it until I tried to hang them. Fortunately it didn’t affect their usefulness.

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Wimps are Healthier

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Best Shop Safety Device: a Macho Man Who Will Take Stupid Risks For You

I got a very weird email this week. A reporter from The New Republic wanted to interview me about Pajamas Media. The temptation was fairly potent. Think about it. The PJs reviled me in a forum to which no one pays attention. The interview would give me a chance to respond before a different and more respectable audience.

But I turned it down. Some of the mean things I have said about PJM still make me cackle helplessly, but like I said in my response to the reporter, picking on the PJs is a vice. It would be fun telling him what I thought about a group of college graduates thinking they could make money selling something which a) nobody wants, and b) is already available for nothing. And I could once again compare Simon and Reynolds to the Thunderdome characters “Master-Blaster.” But what little conscience I have would plague me.

I am trying to be a nicer person these days. Really.

I told the reporter he needed to talk to Moxie and Dennis, neither of whom is currently trying to be nicer. So clearly I’m not cured yet.

I think they will give him material that is way more entertaining than anything I would be willing to say.

In other news, I have had a problem which will amuse all of you. I joke all the time about being addicted to tools, but over the last couple of weeks, I have been seriously concerned. I would get up, write a blog post, shop for machine tools, work with tools, do my regular daily stuff, write another blog post, and shop for machine tools again.

It interfered with my early morning prayer time. It distracted me from more important things. So I have been trying to get a handle on it. I’m shutting the PC down earlier now. Hopefully I won’t need an intervention.

I am part of the group of Christians who think that anything that is too important to you is equivalent to an idol. An idol doesn’t have to be an object carved in the shape of a God. It can be a job, a car, a woman…you can even be your own idol. And if you miss your daily Bible study because you’re busy Ebaying tools you will never buy, you are over the line.

I feel a whole lot better now that I’m getting back on track. I missed God.

I’m not totally free; let’s be serious. A neighbor has two juicy mahogany logs in his or her trash, and I plan to make a rescue mission later today. But I think my priorities are a little more balanced.

This trash-wood business has me interested in woodturning. That means buying a wood lathe, right? Not really. You can turn wood on a metal lathe, if you rig it up so wood won’t get into the machinery. Lots of people do it. I would be limited to about a 12″ swing, but I don’t plan to turn manhole covers, so I don’t care. I don’t know what a reasonable swing for a wood lathe is. Lots of people like the Jet 1220VS, which has a 12″ swing.

I used to think turning was sort of silly. You plop a chunk of wood on the lathe, you spin it, a bowl comes off, and you put it on Ebay, where it brings 79ยข (because your mom feels sorry for you and bids on it under a friend’s account). Ho hum. But some people do very creative work, and you can turn wood that is worthless for other purposes. I’ve seen at least one beautiful item made from poinciana wood. Which is not rare in Miami trash piles.

I have learned that there is such a thing as a bandsaw blade made especially for cutting green wood. I suppose I need one. My 3/4″ blade is pretty gummed up right now.

Today I had an idea for an invention. It’s not really useful, but I still think it would be great to make it. I’ll explain.

Lifting things is bad. It’s stupid. You can ruin your back lifting something as small as a typewriter (remember those?). But we have no answer to the lifting problem. We have those stupid belts they wear at Home Depot, but research suggests they don’t actually work. What’s the answer?

Clearly, we need mini-forklifts. We have big forklifts for huge things, and we have somewhat smaller lifting devices for things that are still pretty big, but what if you want to lift something that weighs 50 pounds? Go pack sand. Nobody in industry takes you seriously. But it’s a very legitimate need. I have a dry cut saw that weighs maybe 65 pounds. I have a planer that weighs nearly a hundred. I don’t want to lift these things from the garage floor to a shelf, over and over. They’re small, but they’re definitely big enough to be risky to lift. I’ve been lifting wet mahogany logs to the bandsaw table because I had no choice, and one of them probably weighed a hundred pounds. It’s a bad habit to get into.

If you go to sites like Northern Tool, you’ll see there are things called Genies which are small-footprint, hand-powered lifts. They lift up to 500 pounds. Swell. But they cost $500, and they take up an area about two feet by twenty inches. For a guy with a few tools and other items that need to be moved around in a garage, this would be overkill. You would have to have a fairly big garage in order to have room to use this thing, and would you really want to use it for something like a miter saw? It’s too inconvenient. You’d grab the saw and take your chances.

I think it would be neat to make a lift with a 250-pound capacity that would lift things five feet off the ground. You could have forks 12″ apart, and you could make them 18″ long. If you need more area, slap a piece of plywood on it, with bolts that go through the forks. No, forget bolts. Use pins that pop in and out. It would take up about as much room as a handtruck, and it would be so light you would actually use it. You wouldn’t even need decent steel. You could weld it up using galvanized fence posts.

A lot of men are ashamed to ask for help lifting things. They are utter morons. Those are the guys who end up moaning about how they can’t leave the couch. The last time I had to lift one of the props from my dad’s boat, I told another guy to take one end. He was a steroid-enhanced bodybuilder who was not overly burdened with genius. He was clearly contemptuous as he grabbed the 80-pound, awkwardly-balanced prop and carried it by himself. Me? I was delighted. I can carry an 80-pound prop. But I’m smart enough not to. When I’m 70 and he’s 55, I’ll be able to kick his ass. He’ll be a cripple.

There is nothing macho about ruptured disks or having to ask your wife to carry your laptop case. Life is not a weightlifting competition, and lifting stuff does not impress people. No one cares about your mighty feats of strength. Women do not find them sexy, and men do not find them intimidating. Sorry to break the news.

It would be even more fun if I could put a motor on the lift, to shoot things up and down and make a crank unnecessary. That would be the difference between a usable lift and a dust collector. You shouldn’t need a whole lot of torque, so it should be possible to make the lift work pretty fast. Maybe a motorcycle gel battery would work.

Maybe I’ll try to make something once my other projects are not so backed up.

Good Deal on AK-47 Ammunition

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Hurry

Here is something hard to understand.

Midway USA has Wolf 7.62x39mm ammunition for $235/1000 rounds. It’s not the Military Classic, but I think the difference is just the coating. Anyway, it’s non-corrosive, and it’s fairly cheap, and NOBODY HAS CHEAP AK AMMUNITION RIGHT NOW.

I bought a Vz 58. If Obama wants to repeal the second amendment, he will have to repeal the fourth in order to disarm me.

I hope my laser’s mount will fit the barrel. Once I have this thing working, I should be able to kill burglars just by scaring them to death.

I didn’t go with CZ-USA. I got one of the jobs Czechpoint sells. They’re supposed to be excellent, and they’re cheaper, and they’re actually available.

You can find cheaper ammunition, but as far as I know, it’s all corrosive. And while this isn’t super-premium stuff, and I got it for the gun range, it should be really good for killing people.

Someone asked why I didn’t get an M1 carbine. Good question. I still want one. I think they’re insanely cool. But the Vz 58 strikes me as a bit more lethal, with a high capacity and great reliability. Maybe I’m wrong.

A Thousand Points of Revenue

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Grinch Obama Steals Christmas in February

Wow, I just read about Obama’s plan to reduce charitable tax deductions. I can’t find the exact formula, although I see the rate goes down from 35 percent to 28 percent, for those evil productive citizens we call “the rich.”

Let’s see. I don’t recall the exact figure, but in one of the years preceding the 2000 election, Dick Cheney and his wife gave something like 10 million dollars to charity. That’s the correct order of magnitude. So under Obama, the deduction would go from $350,000 to $280,000. What happens when the rich see consequences like this on their returns? Obviously, they donate less. So Barack Obama’s plan to finance idiotic things like research to combat nonexistent global warming is to take food out of the mouths of the poor.

If global warming is caused by human industry, we already solved the problem. We elected a team whose backward economic ideas are going to make industry cease.

Under conservatism, the government considers people smart enough to decide what to do with their money, so it tries not to take too much of it. Under liberalism, the government considers our money its money, and it taxes us as much as possible, leaving what amounts to an allowance. But in the past, liberals were willing to allow us to decide what to do with our charitable donations. Now, by discouraging giving, they’re pulling the leash tight. Bureaucrats and left-wing fat cats with government connnections will get the money. The poor can go pack sand. And that makes sense, because liberalism was never about helping the poor. It was about consolidating money and wealth in the hands of a central government: the Mommy Dearest state. Conservatism is about liberty; liberalism is about being taken care of, necessarily including being told what to do.

Will this affect people who donate to religious charities? Surely not. Wouldn’t there be a first amendment issue? I know Obama hates other parts of the Bill of Rights, but I didn’t realize he was trying to repeal this one.

I know this. Liberals would love to cut off donations to churches, because they hate God, and because they want the state to be in charge of charity. A person who gets a hot meal and a clean bed from the church might convert! Marx forbid!

It’s very scary. For a long time, I’ve been pointing out that America seems to be a permanently defeated nation. Our sins wiped out our blessings, so now we’re going to be like the poor quasi-prisoners who make up the citizenry in socialist Europe. I’ve seen it coming, but it didn’t seem real. Now it’s hitting home. My beautiful country is on its heels, and soon it may be a memory, like pre-Castro Cuba.

At least capitalist Cubans got to leave. We have nowhere to go.

European prosperity seems to be in an even steeper nose dive than our own. It looks like the Swiss may be in big trouble. For decades, they’ve profited by helping American tax evaders. Remarkably, they thought our government would never do anything about it. How could they believe that? Now the piper is knocking on their door. And he’s going to get paid. Secret Swiss bank accounts are a thing of the past for Americans. The Swiss don’t have the leverage to say no to our courts.

A whole bunch of Americans are going to get fined or go to jail, and some of them will be famous. It will be a strange pageant of bad judgment and repercussions. I wonder how much this will hurt the Swiss banks. We’re not the only people who use them, but I’m sure our business is important. And I don’t know whether there is a good reason, other than secrecy, to use a Swiss bank.

This is not the way to save money for our nation. The way to save is not to spend the money in the first place. When you’re a complete fool and you think it’s a good idea to pass out doomed, ineffective multi-trillion-dollar bailouts while trying to buy an impossibly expensive national health care system, you aren’t going to save the country by stealing crumbs from soup kitchens.

That’s liberalism for you. When they run the show, you can have somebody else’s cake and eat it, too.

The Chosen Blow it Again

Friday, February 27th, 2009

Hillary not a Friend of Israel? Impossible!

Big shock here. The Obamessiah’s disciples are turning out to be Judases. Jesus only had one Judas Iscariot. So far, Obama has two. First, Eric Holder, who is undoing Obama’s promise to leave gun owners alone. Second, Hillary Clinton, who has turned on Israel. She is railing at Israel for not getting enough aid to Gaza.

I don’t recall Obama or Clinton railing at Gazans for electing terrorists and firing rockets at innocent Israelies. Did I miss something?

Conservative Christians knew last year that Obama was bad for Israel. Israeli Jews knew it. American Jews? Not so much. Honestly, someone needs to start selling Kevlar shoes, to keep American Jews from shooting themselves in the feet. How could they not see this coming? Leftists worldwide are becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. Obama’s closest spiritual advisor was openly anti-Semitic. All of America’s Muslim enemies supported Obama. Hello? Anyone in there?

Here’s a sad quotation from the CBS article about the ruckus:

“Hillary had Mrs. Arafat here and she invited Mrs. Arafat for lunch when she was the first lady,” added Babak Chafe of Great Neck. “She is pro-Palestinian 100 percent, really. Of course, we always knew it.”

You always knew it? Like the folks in New Square knew it? Like the 90% or so of American Jews who voted for Obama knew it?

If Mr. Or Ms. Chafe (“Babak”?) knew Hillary Clinton was a problem, how come other Jews didn’t know it? And how come they didn’t have any problems with Obama?

The treif chickens have come home to roost. I’m sorry, but this problem was obvious six months ago. Conservatives have been backing Israel overwhelmingly for years, leftists now own anti-Semitism and Jew-baiting, and you would have to live in a well to fail notice these things. George Bush had major failings as an advocate of Israel (as did the Israeli leaders he worked with), but Obama is going to make Israelis miss him.

Another quotation:

“I feel it’s unfortunate that they don’t continue the policy of the Bush administration, which was much more pro-Israel,” said Akiva Homnick of Jerusalem.

There you have it. As badly as Bush let Israel down, he was better than Obama. McCain would have been better, too.

Here’s another gem:

“The easy way to make a peace agreement is to pressure Israel because you can’t pressure the Arabs,” said Solomon Loewi of Monsey, N.Y.

Duh. I wonder who Mr. Loewi and his family voted for.

Here’s something to wonder about. Now that we have allowed the Iranians to have nuclear weapons, will Obama and Hillary let the Israelis take out the Iranian nuke sites? NO. That’s my prediction. We need nuclear diversity; there aren’t enough little brown people at the nuclear table. It’s paternalistic and Eurocentric to say wacky Muslim states can’t have nukes! Besides, allowing an Israeli raid would take guts, and Obama was born without those.

No, Iran has the bomb, and they’re going to keep it. They have the fissile material, and that’s the only real obstacle to making a bomb. A Bush II with more political capital might have had the courage to prevent it, and McCain probably would have been man enough to fix it, but when push comes to shove, Barack Obama will ask what the UN and Keith Olbermann think, and nothing will happen. Nothing good, anyway.

Buy gold and ammunition, and keep your head down. That’s my advice.

Hey, can anyone recommend a good, cheap accurate type of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition? I suppose I’ll also need some good defensive rounds.

Another Victory for Ford Engineers

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

New Way to Cause Misfires

Here’s interesting information about the 2003 Ford Thunderbird. When the ground cable on the battery gets loose, the car misfires as if it needed to have a COP replaced.

Unbelievable.

I thought I was having problems due to ghetto gas with water in it. My car gave me the flashy engine light on I-95, and I took it home and put water remover in it. Then it quit acting up. Then it acted up again. I figured it was time to drag it to Ford for another repair. The COPs on this car–what an idiotic invention–are so bad, Ford extended the warranty to 10/100,000 solely with regard to them.

I have read that COPs are better than old-style ignition coils. They are supposed to last longer. Apparently, that’s not true unless the engineer who designs the engine knows where to put them. In Thunderbirds, they fail right and left. And I’ve never seen or heard of a car with the old kind of ignition, breaking down because it quit working. And here’s a question. If you replace one cheap, easy to replace part with eight parts that are a pain to replace, and each one costs $65, have you really saved anyone any money? The COPs would have to be eight times as reliable to avoid repairs, and each repair would have to cost one-eighth of the cost of repairing the old type of engine, just to break even. Is that true in practice? It’s not for Thunderbirds. Not by a longshot. I wonder if it’s true for cars in which the COPs last longer.

I have a sneaking suspicion that these infernal things have some connection to air quality or fuel economy. Some insane standard liberals forced on the car industry. I can’t figure out why else they would exist. Seriously, how often does a car’s ignition fail? Was there really a great need to invent these things?

Okay, here is the happy part. The Thunderbird is a plastic car. That means you can’t ground anything to it. The ground cable from the battery goes through plastic. Evidently, that makes it likely to loosen over time. And when that happens, it’s like having a COP go bad. Or worse. And it will come and go. Sometimes the car will generate OBD codes, and sometimes it won’t.

I found this out by pure chance while I Googled “Thunderbird” and “P0352,” which is a code this condition can give you. I went out to the car, checked the cable, and sure enough, it was not tight. And the charge indicator was red. No wonder this battery crapped on on me three years ago. It wasn’t connected to the car!

I assume you can have this problem with any car that needs a good battery connection in order to supply a quality spark. I don’t know. But it’s probably a much bigger problem with cars that are hard to ground things to.

Time to Get Out my Czechbook

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Mommy Obama Wants Our Bad Old Guns

Surprise, surprise. Obama wants to disarm us. Wow, no one saw THAT coming.

His new AG appears to be a monumental buffoon, in addition to being wrong on any issue you can name. The other day he called us a nation of cowards because he thought we were afraid to talk about race. Actually, there is some truth to that; if we were willing to criticize black politicians the way we go after white ones, Barack Obama would still be a state legislator. But that’s probably not the kind of race talk Holder had in mind. He probably meant that whites, Asians and other people who are not members of what liberals define as minorities don’t spend enough time flagellating themselves over nonexistent offenses against the recognized and approved minority groups.

By the way, there are only liberal-recognized three minority groups in America, as far as I can tell. 1. Blacks. 2. American Indians. 3. Non-Cuban Hispanics. And absolutely nobody cares about Indians, because there aren’t enough of them to affect an election, so that leaves two minority groups that matter. The other minorities don’t seem interested in government help, and they appear to be prosperous, so they don’t count. Jews are a minority, and they have been systematically persecuted in the United States. Oddly, they have never received affirmative action, they are not poor, and there has been no talk of reparations. Go figure. The Chinese were brought here as slaves, to work on our railroads. They were kept in camps and underpaid, and they had rotten lives. Where is their minority money? Must gave gotten lost in the mail. It’s in a basement at the post office, in the same big pile as the Japanese, Vietnamese, Arab, and India-Indian minority money.

Maybe Holder meant it was time for big media journalists to start referring to Al Sharpton not as an activist, but as what he is: a Jew-hating idiot who incited a riot and got a man killed. Maybe Holder meant it was time for us all to openly state that Jesse Jackson is a narcissistic shakedown artist who worries more about a photo op in America than all the horrible suffering currently taking place in Africa. Maybe he meant we should honor George Bush as one of the best friends black people have ever had, because of the marvelous things he did to end African misery.

Is that what he meant? Maybe he’s not such a bad guy.

I had hoped that Obama would be too gutless to go after guns, because this is an issue where Democrats consistently lose. It’s a big enough issue to lose elections for them. But I guess his gigantic, edematous ego got the best of him, because he and Holder want to bring back the ridiculous assault weapons ban. Never mind that many of these guns are not really assault weapons. Never mind the shocking rarity of assault-weapon crime. Obama and Holder want them gone. Do criminals care? Of course not. They don’t use these guns. They use crappy .25 automatics and stolen Glocks. And if they want assault weapons, they’ll have them even if they’re illegal, because…they’re CRIMINALS.

People do not buy military-style weapons to commit OFFENSES. They buy them for self-DEFENSE. You don’t need an Uzi to stick up a dentist and run off with his wallet. A rusty .38 will do just fine.

I guess I am going to have to put life on hold while I shop around for self-defense guns. The long guns I have right now are toys. They are not the kinds of guns you defend a house with.

I think the Czech-made Vz58 is the best choice out there. It’s a better gun than a top-grade AK-47, and you can buy a new one without selling a kidney. Another good option: the Saiga 12 semi-automatic shotgun.

One nice thing about gun bans is that they always have grandfather clauses. This keeps fat lazy conservatives who already have guns from rioting in the streets and helping stop the bans. So if I get a couple of nice guns now, the ban won’t apply to me. Eventually we may reach a state where pompous morons like Obama can pass laws requiring us to hand in guns we already possess. But until then, I’ll be able to burgerize anyone who comes onto my property with the intention of harming me.

I should try to get a handle on my anger, but the second amendment does not grant a privilege; it grants a right. The Constitution makes freedom to own and carry guns (“keep” and “bear”) just as sacred as freedom of speech.

America is washed up; in my bones, I am sure of it. I think we’re headed for a permanently depressed lifestyle and greatly reduced global influence. Oddly, many liberals are openly hoping this happens. They say our wonderful lifestyle was “artificial” and “unsustainable,” and that it harmed Mother Gaia by making her nipples sore or something. They literally want America to be poor and weak. Google and see. But a little voice has been telling me we will be able to keep our guns. I hope that turns out to be true, but it’s time to do some shopping, just in case.

Wood That I Were Finished

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Logged Out

I am worn out from cutting up trash pile mahogany.

I’ve been writing about the pile of rotten mahogany logs I found in a neighbor’s trash. I stole a bunch and took them home. Since then I have been sawing viable wood out of them.

It’s shocking how much wood you can get out of a short rotten log. You can take a log maybe 11″ wide with a 4″ hole running down the middle of it and get a clean 9″ slab that is surprisingly thick out of each side. Then you resaw the slabs into thinner slabs. You wind up with a lot of perfectly useful wood.

At first, I was disappointed when I cut out the rot and ended up with pieces that were short or oddly shaped. Then I thought of the horrible screw jobs I had taken on red oak at Home Depot.

First of all, red oak is remarkably ugly. It looks like a desk from a high school, circa 1970. Maybe that’s the kind of wood they used for desks. It’s plain, it’s coarse-grained, and the color is about like a Band-Aid. Sure, it’s strong. In Appalachia, they used to make solid wagon wheels out of it, cutting slices out of round logs, because it wouldn’t split. But it’s very drab.

Second, Home Depot oak is very expensive. Sometimes you really need a piece of hardwood for something, like maybe a backing slab for a latch on a shed door, and you can’t just pull the wood out of your ear. You have to get it somewhere. So you find yourself making a ridiculous trip to the store for maybe a foot and a half of three-inch-wide oak. And then you find out it’s ten bucks, or some such insane price. That is beyond belief. It makes you wonder where all the forests went. Don’t we still have a few trees?

It may seem silly for me to carve out a piece of mahogany two feet long, three inches on one side, and two and a half inches on the other. But that’s equivalent to more than two of the pieces of Home Depot oak I just talked about. It’s probably twenty bucks’ worth of wood. And it will also look good. Damn, why not take it when you have the chance?

For that matter, why not take live oak? It’s better-looking than red oak, and it’s probably just as tough. It’s free, all over the place. A couple of months ago, a live oak fell on a neighbor’s house, and when the clearing crew got done, there was a pile of logs as big as two cars. FREE. Sitting by the street.

I suppose live oak is desirable wood, to people who like oak. What the hell. Take it and make furniture. Hmm…Wikipedia says it warps and twists when you dry it. Okay, fine. Make two-by-fours out of it. They surely won’t be any worse than the corkscrews Home Depot sells.

I am looking up other trees that grow around here.

Tamarind is hard and dense, and it has all sorts of weird figuring in it. And spalted tamarind is highly desirable.

Poinciana wood is crap. Whoops, wait. You can turn it and make beautiful things.

Lignum vitae is probably too hard to do anything with.

Citrus wood is hard, dense, and really pretty.

I’m starting to think about wood lathes.

I will stop now.

Jewish Voice Ministries?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Speak Up

I am investigating a ministry that provides assistance to needy Jews. I was wondering if anyone who reads this site was aware of it. It’s called Jewish Voice Ministries.

I’ve written a lot about the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. This is a wonderful organization that moves Jews to Israel, helps poor Jews, and fights anti-Semitism in the media. But that organization has one weak point. They are completely opposed to evangelism. They work with Christian minister John Hagee, who has come to the controversial conclusion that Jews are under a different salvation scheme, and that there is no reason to mention Jesus to them.

Jewish Voice is somewhat different. It’s run by messianic Jews. They evangelize, and they do it from a Jewish standpoint, which is a little unusual. And they move Jews to Israel, much as the IFCJ does, so you can donate money for pretty much the same purposes.

I talk to my sister about charities and ministries. She pointed this one out to me. She likes it better than the IFCJ, for the reasons mentioned above.

I checked it out with Charity Navigator, and their rating is slightly higher than the IFCJ’s, so it’s a reputable organization. And the leader takes a reasonable salary.

If you’ve heard of Jewish Voice, let me know.

More

I may have spoken too soon. I’m looking at their site, trying to find information about moving Jews to Israel, and it doesn’t seem to be there.

“Recovery” Means “Meltdown”

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Nuance in Action

It’s another Obama rally on Wall Street! Of course, in Obamese, “rally” is the word we use when we want to say “freefall.” Right now we’re down 150 points, and there is little HOPE that the trend will CHANGE.

Thank God, the left has rewritten the rules of logic. That will save us; when you’re a socialist, wishing will make it so.

These days, a person who borrows money he can’t repay is “a victim.” A person who is ejected from a home he can’t pay for and ends up renting again is “homeless.” Failure is something you reward. Success is something you punish. And amazingly, when you punish success and reward failure, people get more and more productive, and life just improves without measure! After that, we all grow wings and sell our cars because we can fly everywhere we want to go. Be careful up there! Don’t collide with a pig!

Back in the old days, before logic was repealed, overhauled, and replaced, a company that was mismanaged would go out of business, smarter people would buy the assets and hire the employees, and the new company would do better than the old one. A person who got a house loan he could not afford would sell at a loss and go bankrupt and start over, or the bank would foreclose, and a solvent person would buy the house. Then the buyer who lost the house would rent an apartment. We called this “capitalism,” and it led to the greatest combination of stability and wealth any nation has ever known.

These days, when you accept a bad loan with everything disclosed in advance and your eyes wide open, the government takes money away from your responsible neighbor and gives it to you so you can keep your home. Then the government has the gall to tell your neighbor this was done to help HIM.

Your neighbor has less money to take care of himself and his family. He has less incentive to work and save and invest and help create jobs, because the Mommy Dearest State will let him blow his money on beer and lotto tickets and then catch him when he falls. He will adjust his behavior accordingly, unless the Messiah restructures human nature. Of course, that’s the socialist’s worst fantasy. The one that makes their system so pathetic.

The lenders that gave these loans need to go out of business. They knew exactly what was going on, unless they were on psychedelic drugs. I knew what was going on, and I’m just a lawyer.

Earlier in the decade, I represented a couple of car salesmen. They had worked at a number of dealerships in the Miami area. Guess what they told me? They told me how car loans work. Let’s say you’re a crackhead, but you want an Escalade. You go to a car dealer, and you point at the car you want, and they give you a loan form. And you say, “but I am a crackhead and I have no income.” They say, “We did not ask you to declare your income. Just sign the form.” And you sign it, and they fill it out, and if needed, they dig up a forged 1040 and attach it. This is literally true. Then they send it to GMAC or whoever the lender is, and the loan gets approved. This happens every day, all over this city. Well, it DID. Back when people were able to sell cars.

Maybe “crackhead” is an exaggeration, but the rest of it is absolutely true. Car dealers routinely forge documents in order to get lenders to cough up. Surely the lenders know it; how could they not? And if car dealers do it, surely the same thing happens in the housing industry. Get a lender to pay, take your piece of the action, and move on. Then the lender sells the loan and moves on. Somewhere down the line, someone in China eats it, but you got your little piece of cheese, so it’s okay. I can’t believe the lenders don’t know what’s happening. They would have to live in lead-lined booths. Surely they must be making these bad loans with the intention of passing them on before they tank.

You have to wonder how this affects lending standards. If the qualifications of buyers are exaggerated on a broad scale–and they are–you have to wonder how much inflation is built into the standards.

I’ll explain. Imagine the lenders think the average home buyer has a $60,000 income and $5000 in debt. But because the people who put mortgage applications together have lied so much, the true figures are more like $40,000 and $10,000. And the average buyer makes his payments. What happens? The lender ends up with unrealistically high standards. The lender thinks you need $60,000 and $5000 to be a good risk, but the reality is, people with the other figures are pretty safe. Wouldn’t that make it harder for honest applicants to get credit?

I also wonder what the Chinese think, when they see the documents. They must go, “Wow! Americans are even richer than we think! This guy’s application says ‘crackhead,’ and his address is ‘dumpster,’ but he earns more yuan in a day than I make in a month!”

I don’t actually know if the Chinese see the original documents when they buy American mortgages. I have no idea how that works. But they do buy our mortgages. Your stuff is Chinese. Your house is Chinese. You might as well go ahead and buy a wok. Which will probably be made in Mexico.

The free market and logic are like gravity. Eventually they are going to win, because they never take a break. They never stop. Redistribution of wealth only works when the free market redistributes it from unproductive people to productive people. Obama is building a house of cards, and we’re in a windstorm. I still can’t believe Bush helped him do this. Remind me again why people thought Bush was conservative.

A rising tide lifts all boats. In the past, anyone could do well, because America was prosperous. It was easy to succeed. That probably won’t be true from now on. My answer is to get my house in order, change my behavior, and try to find my way into God’s good graces.

Oh, boy. Down 180. Think of all the people out there who saved all their lives and just lost their retirement money. This is absolutely terrible.

New Problem for Mish

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

ATTACK!

Mish Weiss is on the prayer list again. She has a cold. This is not something you want, when you have leukemia. Please don’t forget her.

More Fun Than a Pork Barrel of Legislators

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

House Acts Swiftly to Protect Imbeciles From Themselves

I just read that the House has passed a bill that makes it illegal to keep a chimp as a pet. There goes my plan to kidnap the president of Iran.

It is definitely a bad idea to have a chimp for a pet. No doubt about that. Soy-sucking gun-haters who faint at the sight of a .22 cartridge seem to make up the majority of people who own really inappropriate pets or who try to snuggle up to wild animals and then get eaten, but the obvious fact is, a big strong wild animal is much more dangerous than a whole basement full of assault rifles. Here’s the reason: assault rifles won’t escape and rip off the mailman’s testicles. Guns don’t kill people. Angry chimpanzees DO.

That being said, do we really need this bill? Only idiots have dangerous pets, and this particular type of idiot (I want to be careful here) is in the minority. And there is a legal theory called “strict liability” which, if enforced by slimy tort lawyers (thought to be primitive ancestors of chimpanzees), would probably be a pretty good deterrent.

It has been a long time since I studied for the bar exam, but I think it works like this. If you have something really dangerous in your house, and someone gets hurt because of it, you have to pay. Period. The court doesn’t want to know whether you were negligent. Maybe you kept your box of dynamite on top of the fridge where you were sure the kids would never find it. Nobody cares. You’re liable. And the example they always use when they teach about strict liability is a tiger.

Having seen what chimps can do to people–in particular, their peculiar and well-documented fascination with testicles–I can tell you that I would much rather face a tiger, which kills prey pretty quickly. The other day I saw a photo of the last famous chimp victim. He has two fingers left, his genitals are completely gone, he’s in a wheelchair, and while he has skin on the front of his head, I would not call it a face. If a tiger is grounds for strict liability, surely a chimp qualifies.

Ordinarily this kind of law wouldn’t interest me much, but it’s a little unnerving when the feds start deciding what kind of pet you can have. Here in Coral Gables, there is a law that makes it illegal to own any type of reptile. Try to imagine an American childhood that doesn’t feature at least one dead turtle. It’s unthinkable. Under Obama, liberty is going to shrivel like a slug on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Little things like the monkey law help the snowball gain mass.

I guess you could say that if strict liability were a good deterrent, people would not have chimps. Maybe that’s true. I just dread the day when the Obama Jugend comes to my house to make sure my dog is a neutered vegetarian and that I don’t have any dangerous contraband on the premises, such as hamsters.

Let me conclude by proclaiming that only free men own chimps, although not always testicles.

Cue John Gibson.

Sometimes the Losers Write History

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Get me a Cat so I Can Beat a Rug With It

I got my Smartflix account started. I tried to rent a series of videos on big machine tools, but the Smartflix site is confusing; it lacks the typical, logical, flow chart structure. I ended up with the wrong videos in my queue, and I assume it was because I got mixed up and clicked on the wrong thing. The people at Smartflix were very nice about it and changed my queue. I still got three DVDs from Swarfrat because I didn’t get the queue changed in time to prevent Smartflix from sending them to me.

Swarfrat.com is a site for mini-machine-tool enthusiasts.

I don’t plan to get small machine tools, but the videos were here, and I knew they would be great entertainment, so I watched a couple anyway. It’s wonderful stuff. They start out with shop safety, which is something that needs to be beaten into all of us over and over. And then they present the machines, including crucial but non-glamorous topics like layout.

The guy who emcees the videos popped up during the FBI warning on one of the DVDs and said Swarfrat wasn’t too thrilled about rental outfits distributing their material. That was pretty funny. He said you can go to their site and rent the DVDs, and that if you buy, Swarfrat will apply the rental fees to the DVD cost. Whatever. I don’t want to get caught up in federal tort litigation. I just want to lie back and watch other tool nerds make chips.

Oddly, the Swarfrat DVDs have the same problem the Smartflix site has. The menus don’t work well. I’m still not sure I managed to see everything. They need a “scene selection” feature.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this stuff. I love my woodworking DVDs, but this stuff is even better. There is something more mysterious and seemingly forbidden about machining. So few men can do it. How many machinists do you know? Okay, bad question. My readers will say things like “500.” But normal human beings don’t know many. Yet everyone knows several woodworkers, provided you use the term “woodworker” loosely.

The Swarfrat dude is a motorcycle lover, and he demonstrated toolmaking skills by making tools to take old bikes apart. This is exactly the kind of thing that gets me excited about tools. Every man runs into problems he can’t fix because he doesn’t own the secret, bizarre tools he needs. He may be completely unaware that such tools exist. And what could be better than using tools…to make tools? It’s like having a breeder reactor.

He made some T-handled items for pulling and pushing things out of motorcycle parts. They had brass things on them. It’s hard to describe. Let’s say you want to push something. You make a threaded brass deal which goes around your threaded tool. One set of threads on the brass thing attaches to a motorcycle part. The other set of threads is what the shaft of your tool runs through. You attach the brass thing to a part, and you turn the handle, rotating the shaft of the tool, which pushes it into whatever you want to push.

It was beautiful. Watching the crappy brass stock turn on the lathe was like watching ballet. Except that I hate ballet. It started out as a drab brownish cylinder, and as it turned, bright, glossy brass emerged. And when he knurled the brass part, I felt like standing up and applauding, as a representative of all men who know nothing about tools and can’t make anything.

One thing upset me. He used a TIG welder, and he kept talking about how much control it gives you and so on. ENOUGH. I am not getting a TIG welder. They cost like forty million dollars. Although…hmm…oxy-acetylene is much cheaper, and supposedly it does lots of stuff…

I wish the King of Swamp Castle would come in here right now and yell “NO MORE TALKING ABOUT BUYING TOOLS!”

LANCELOT: You see, I thought your son…was a lady.

KING: I can understand that.

I wish there was a tiny welder out there that gave me amazing control for welding small stuff. NO I DON’T. FORGET I SAID THAT. It probably exists and costs ten thousand dollars.

What does it matter? When the Obama Depression kicks into full gear, we’ll all be lucky if we have a hoe and a crescent wrench.

I am stalling on getting a lathe and a mill because I’m convinced that within a month or so, a wave of companies will fail, and used tools that now sell for X will sell for X/2. People will sell them for scrap because the shipping costs will be more than the tools are worth. Or we’ll just set them up in vacant lots and worship them as idols, while we grovel for filth like Denis the Anarcho-Syndicalist Peasant. Not to be confused with Dennis the Blogging Peasant, who is having a ton of fun dissecting Roger Simon’s strange new book. He notes that one or two of Simon’s claims seem to be maybe not totally consistent with the truth. To put it kindly. Which Dennis doesn’t.

I think the Dark Ages are coming back, and we’re all going to live like the people in Mad Max. Everyone, not just the folks in San Francisco.

I’ll need a mohawk and a crossbow.

Get yourself some of these fine machining DVDs. While we still have electricity.

So This is “Change”

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Okay, but We Also Ordered “Hope”

Can you believe the Dow is dropping AGAIN?

We might as well start using the “D” word. “Depression.” It looks very likely, and unlike the first Depression, it will probably end with an overall level of prosperity that is permanently reduced.

Congratulations, Obama voters. Thanks to you, we have spent everyone’s grandchildren’s college tuition, and we are getting nothing in return except exacerbated economic injury. This is what happens when you elect a wet-behind-the-ears Chicago-machine bagman instead of a leader. And just to make you happy, I’ll admit that McCain would not have been appreciably better. We needed a conservative, but there were no conservatives on the menu. I hate to say this, but because the economic mess is so important, we might have been better off electing the lunatic Ron Paul. Sure, he would have caused horrible problems. But he would not have put our overgrown government on steroids, nationalized banks, and put the Big Three on methadone.

I still blame the left, because were it not for their growing numbers and the pressure they apply to the political parties, the GOP might have had enough of a spine to run a conservative.

The things that are happening in the market right now do not reflect the wrongness of trickle-down economics implemented under George Bush. They reflect the investing public’s knowledge that Obama’s socialist approach to ending the recession will make it worse. This is why people are selling stock, and selling is what makes the Dow drop. No one with any common sense believes we can fix this mess by rewarding the institutions and individuals that caused it, yet that is exactly what Obama is doing, and even Bush got into the act at the end of his term. If you want to criticize Bush, don’t yammer about his supply-side ideas, which were very sound. Complain that he gave in last fall and decided to give leftist economics a try. And complain that he wasn’t man enough to rein in and regulate the GSEs that espoused leftist policies which caused the housing bubble.

I don’t know if people understand the magnitude of this catastrophe. The Dow peaked at above 14,000. That wasn’t all that long ago. Now we’re headed for 7,000, after months of frantic, pants-wetting government first aid (consisting mainly of tourniquets applied to the neck). This didn’t happen after the 1987 crash or the tech meltdown. This is much more like the post-1929 era. At a similar point after the 1987 crash, the market was much healthier than it is today, on a percentage basis. In fact, the same is true of the 1929 crash.

We’re printing money to ward off deflation, and we have to pay interest on that money, because we issue bonds to justify the printing. Will that stop deflation, when people no longer have jobs and can’t afford to spend? Won’t sellers drop their prices in order to get money to stay in business? I don’t know. Here’s another question: will that money end up in circulation? Sooner or later, won’t foreign governments get wise and stop buying bonds? I don’t know enough about the Fed to say, but it sounds like printed money only ends up in circulation if we can find someone stupid enough to lend to us. If that’s true, maybe deflation is unpreventable.

China is hard to understand. On the one hand, they want us to do well enough to buy their products, so they need to buy our bonds. On the other, they want to keep increasing their output, which means crushing American industry and wrecking our economy. Maybe they’ll eventually realize we’re not going to recover, and they’ll decide making products and marketing them to the rest of the world is smarter than keeping us on life support. What they’re doing is a little like giving your son an allowance so he can support your family by buying products you make in the garage. It seems inherently inefficient and lossy.

Who would have thought that a community organizer with virtually no experience wouldn’t be able to solve all the world’s problems? Gee, electing him seemed like such a great idea. Socialism worked so well in North Vietnam and Cuba.

I guess I should quit poking the left. They’re the symptom, not the disease. The disease is turning away from God and slicing up the Promised Land in exchange for promises from murderers and liars. I suppose that if conservatives were in charge, the curse we have brought on ourselves would still bring us down. Leftism is inherently evil and ungodly, because it presumes that man can usher in the Messianic Age without God’s help. It’s just as idolatrous as the Tower of Babel. But godless conservatism is equally vain.

I’ll bet that nine months from now, I’m a hundred miles north of here, planting things on a big lot and driving a truck instead of a Thunderbird. In times like these, things with intrinsic value become precious, and small homes in big cities don’t fit that description.

“Mommy, the Fat Man Stole Our Trash!”

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

“Keep Walking, Sweetheart, and Don’t Make Eye Contact”

I got up very late today because I got to bed late. I had to go steal more of my neighbor’s trash, because the trucks roll on Monday morning. I had to seal the ends of the wood I’ve already cut. And I had to spend time with Marv and Maynard before hitting the sack.

The wood has turned out to be mahogany. For some reason, the bark on Miami mahogany varies a lot, and sometimes it looks a little like live oak. But live oak never looks like mahogany. What I mean is, live oak has very coarse grey bark, pretty much all the time, while mahogany may be grey and coarse, black and coarse, or grey and smooth except for woodpecker holes. The wood I found has bark that is mostly grey, but I found areas where it’s covered with hard black flakes which you only get with mahogany. So that’s what it appears to be. In addition, the wood is extremely fine-grained, and it’s much softer than oak. Oak has its virtues, but it’s not the prettiest wood on earth. It has little cavities in it after it’s sanded. Like ash. Think of the surface of a baseball bat. I guess this is why they use maple on bowling alleys and gym floors, which have to be pretty and smooth, while you are likely to find oak in stair treads. My aunt Gladys has a dining table she made from oak stairs taken from a school where she taught.

As the wood dries, strange things are happening. The middle is turning purplish pink, and the outer bits are getting more yellow. It may sound nice, but it’s a little gaudy. I don’t know what it will look like when it finishes drying.

I’m not sure what to do with it. I have read all sorts of depressing things about drying wood. People make it sound impossible. I always thought you cut up a tree, let the boards sit for a few weeks, and started working it. Not so. If you don’t seal the ends, it starts to split from the ends in. Then it’s ruined. If you don’t dry it long enough–one year per inch, I’ve read–it will warp and generally go crazy after you turn it into furniture. And drying it yourself is not as good as having it dried in a giant kiln, which is what wood companies do.

I have read that you can dry small pieces of wood effectively by leaving it in a freezer. I think I read that on a museum site, so it’s probably true. Last night, I stuck a little piece of wood in the freezer, and sure enough, by morning ice had been squeezed out of it. You would think the expansion of the ice would split the wood, but I guess wood is springy enough to resist. If that were not the case, I guess we would have entire forests of split trees.

I’ve also read that some people toss wood in their ovens to dry it. I might risk a piece just out of curiosity; I don’t have a lot of confidence in this method.

The bits of wood I’m drying are so small, I could put them in a closet and worry about them in a year.

People are recommending that I get a metal detector. Very good idea. Sooner or later, I also need to invest in a real chainsaw. If I’m going to run around stealing trash and cutting it up on the bandsaw, I’ll need a tool to cut it down to bandsaw size, and a chainsaw seems inevitable. Last night I considered getting a maul, but a chainsaw is easier and better, and it’s useful for things other than preparing wood for woodworking. Also, a maul can chip and send pieces flying into you like bullets. I saw it happen to my cousin. It was amazing; it shot through his jeans, went into his skin, hit his shin bone, and slid down his leg. He had to have it cut out.

By the way, in Kentucky, a maul is called a “go-devil.”

I’m not going to run into nails in the mahogany I find in the trash here. Nobody puts metal in these trees. But I know how life works. As soon as I decide to depend on this generalization, it will fail me. I’ll find the only piece of mahogany in South Florida that has a nail in it.

My neighbors’ trash piles are no longer safe. I wish they would throw out some nice machine tools.