Archive for February, 2012


Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

The Carter II Curse Continues

It’s funny sometimes. Obama can’t win for losing.

On Super Bowl Sunday, we saw one of the things Chrysler did with the billion-plus dollars they took from us. They created a self-serving ad featuring Clint Eastwood. The narration started with, “It’s halftime in America.” Clint went on to tell us how hard times were; how badly things were going. And he said we were going to get off the canvas, suck it up, walk it off, improvise, adapt, overcome, et cetera. We were going to WIN, and the reason is…uh…okay, here it is: we’re AMERICA. Like that’s a magical word that prevents failure.

It turns out two people involved in the ad (Michael Tabtabai and Jimm Lasser) have a history of working for Obama. Big shock there. Clint Eastwood seems to think the ad was politically neutral, but it was clearly an effort to rehabilitate a failed Presidency. Unfortunately, it works better as a condemnation of everything Obama stands for.

Let’s go back to 1984, to the ad Chrysler plagiarized. Ronald Reagan was running for reelection. He was extremely popular. His strategies were working. He had a good record to run on. Life had been miserable under Carter. Interest rates were over 20%. Inflation was out of control. We were the laughingstock of the globe. Under Reagan, that had turned around, and everyone knew it. So his team put out an ad surprisingly similar to the Obama halftime ad. The theme was “morning in America.” We had come out from the dark night of the Carter administration. Here is the ad.

I’m not going to embed the Obama ad for comparison. You can find it online. You’ve probably seen it already. What a contrast! Reagan’s message? “Things are WAY better than they were four years ago. Let’s keep moving in the right direction!” Obama’s message? “Things STINK, but I’m only halfway done! Give me more time, and my long-discredited policies of socialism, borrowing, and central planning are going to work out!” After all, they worked so well in East Germany, the USSR, North Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba…

The difference is obvious. In the morning, the night is over. Your problems are behind you. A bright new day awaits. At halftime, you’re still in the middle of the battle, and under Obama, you’re LOSING!

Not only did Obama’s surrogates steal from Reagan; they implicitly admit Obama’s record is inferior!

Maybe Obama had nothing to do with this. Doesn’t matter. His team was behind it, in one form or another.

It’s hard for me to imagine a funnier way to condemn your performance as President. You never ask people, “Are you better off today than you were four years ago?” when the answer is “NO.”

Eastwood shouldn’t have said it was halftime. He should have said, “GAME OVER.” Or “sudden death.” Although that would have annoyed the Secret Service.

The obvious self-incriminating nature of the ad will blow over most people’s heads. People aren’t bright enough to pick up on irony. It has to be pointed out to them.

If I were Obama, I think I’d want to run off and hide. Maybe that’s why he goes on vacation eight times a year.

Thar She Blows

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Like Dancing With a Fat Lady With a Square Head

Whee. What fun I just had. I decided to move the compressor over near the machine-tool wiring, and I put the vertical band saw where the compressor used to be.

The compressor is the size of a refrigerator, and it weighs 500 pounds. Most of the weight is on top, so if it starts to fall, anyone around it stands a good chance of being turned into a stain.

I could not remember how I got it where it was, but there were several pieces of 1/2″ electrical conduit under it, so I could tell I must have tried to roll it on them, sort of like the old photos of slaves moving blocks for the pyramids.

Every time I move a big machine, I forget how stable they are. I lose all sense of what it takes to turn them over. This makes for a very nerve-wracking beginning. Today I had to lean the machine back to pull the isolation pads out from under it, and I kept thinking it would keep going and end up horizontal.

Those pads are crap, incidentally. Save yourself some money. Cut pieces out of an old tire. The pads deteriorate for no apparent reason. The ones I have are falling apart.

I tried moving the machine without the pipes, because I was afraid I’d push it over and die in an embarrassing way. I got it to move about a foot before giving up. It didn’t seem possible that the pipes would help; the machine’s feet are small, so you would expect it to come off of the pipes before going very far. Surprisingly, you can shove it about five inches at a time, which is more than enough to get the job done, and you can even turn it as long as one foot is on a pipe.

I was sweating pretty badly, even though the AC was on. Later I realized it had reset itself to 77 degrees instead of the usual 70. Swell.

I put the compressor behind my work stool, by my bench. Now when the 5-HP Baldor explodes into action like a MOAB, it will be two feet from my head. That will be nice.

I could just make a long cord for it and experiment with new places. I may do that. I already have a nice piece of 50-amp RV cord.

It’s funny; people talk about the necessity of using huge wires on machine tools, but the motor on my milling machine has what appear to be 12-gauge wires on it, and the wires on my 5 HP compressor motor are thin, too. I can see that it’s important to go overboard in the walls of a house, especially when wires are packed into small spaces that retain heat, but I’m not afraid of a nice extension cord, especially when the manufacturer says 50 amps are no problem.

The compressor is going to have a 3-prong plug and its own 220 receptacle. I have to get that taken care of. Everything must be up to code. This is Karl Goebbels, after all. I mean Coral Gables. I don’t want to get shipped off to a gulag.

I’m hoping the 2-HP air conditioner and the 5-HP compressor won’t mind sharing 40 amps. If they do, I’ll have to have the wiring upgraded, but that won’t be a big deal, since the existing circuit has blazed a trail any electrician can follow.

Tomorrow, God willing, the air dryer arrives. I’ll mount the hose reel on the wall above the compressor, and I’ll finally have compressed air I can use. I may go nuts and buy a cheap blasting cabinet.

My mobile bases are on the way from Grizzly, so I’ll be able to move stuff around and get the ultimate ergonomic and aesthetic solution. I can’t budge my drill press. It’s supposed to weigh around 200 pounds, but I added a sliding table and a big drill press vise, and I’m storing an 8″ rotary table and an 8″ chuck on the base.

Guess I could try the pipes. I’ll have to move it eventually, because it’s not going to jump on a mobile base when I whistle. My hoist is nearly directly over it (because I used it to put the drill press in the garage), so I guess I can lift it.

I’m so glad I didn’t go with my original plan, which was to run new conduit over the roof trusses, 12 feet in the air.

I hope I don’t have to move the compressor again, but very little is certain in this life.

The Garage of Blues is getting so cool, I’m afraid one day I’ll show up, and they won’t let me in.

For the longest time, I’ve been dreaming of a big garage-type room where I can relax and conceivably even entertain. God is giving me a foretaste of it. See Psalm 37, verse 4. He really does the things he says he’ll do.

I think I’ll go look at the mess I just made, without making any effort to clean it up.

The Garage That Goes to Eleven

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012


I’m anxiously awaiting my Ebay NOS refrigerated air dryer. I’ve been trying to figure out how to work it into the decor of the Garage of Blues.

Right now, things are working well. The vertical band saw and drill press form sort of an island in the middle of the garage, the mill is in a corner, the lathe is along a wall, and the table saw is on the other side of the room. The big compressor is between the garage doors. It’s a nice, ergonomic arrangement, but with the arrival of the dryer, things will have to be rearranged.

I have two 240 circuits out there. One is 60 amps. It’s for the table saw, vertical band saw, and both big machine tools. The other is 40 amps. Right now, the air conditioner is the only thing on that circuit. I was thinking of walking the compressor over to the machine side of the room and making a cord and plug for it, so it could go into the table saw socket. But that won’t work, because it has to be able to run at the same time as the plasma cutter, which has to be on the table saw circuit. So it looks like I have to put the compressor on the air conditioner circuit. I still think a socket is a good idea, though. Hardwiring costs you versatility, and I can’t think of any advantages it provides.

I guess I need a new socket on the machine wall, hooked up to the air conditioner line. I’ll have to put my compressor where the rolling tool chest is now. To keep easy access to the tool chest, I’ll have to put it where the drill press is. So the band saw goes where the compressor is now, and the drill press goes to the band saw’s location.

This adds up to a sad conclusion: I need mobile bases. I welded a mobile base together for the band saw, but I stupidly listened to some guy who said it would be a problem if it was too tall, so I fabricated caster mounts that would keep the height down. They work, but they’re flimsy, and the saw is hard to move. I covered the base with truck bed paint, so as far as I know, there is no practical way to clean it off, cut it up, and redo the casters. I don’t want to weld something that has flaming plastic all over it. It’s a big waste of metal, but I don’t know what else to do.

I’m going to have to put a base on the drill press, and I need a better base on the band saw. That will let me move stuff pretty freely, and it will make the garage much more versatile. So it’s time to take a stiff drink, log onto the Grizzly site, and place an order.

I’m not worried about the compressor circuit. I already have unused Romex lying around, plus unused conduit, so all I need are a socket and plug.

I also have to spend some loot on the truck. It looks like it has a camber problem. On a truck like this, you can’t adjust the front end camber using the tools they have at ordinary car shops. You have to find a place that does frame bending and so on. I’ve been getting alignments about every ten minutes, and the truck has been eating tires all the same. The folks at Firestone finally let me know that they couldn’t do anything about it.

There are a couple of shops in town that can do this. They cater to pimps, fake pimps, professional athletes, rappers, and low-riders. Thank God we have so many vain people in Miami. If you want to put 48″ rims on your pink and chartreuse Subaru, these guys will twist the frame and suspension parts to make it happen.

I have no idea how I ended up with a camber problem. The truck was used when I bought it. God only knows what the previous owner did. I’m going to make them check and make sure he didn’t add any stupid parts to the suspension.

I’m kind of disturbed by the amount of cash I’m laying out (the air conditioner also crapped out), but I think God has a purpose in all this. With these little problems, and with other unexpected needs for cash outlay, I think he’s reminding me not to be stingy. Not with others, and not with myself.

I don’t consider myself a fundamentally generous person. I come from stingy mountain people. In Eastern Kentucky, if someone gives a waiter a tip, they expect a free car wash. This is just how it is, and I am not immune to the influence. I try to listen when God tells me to give, but if I hadn’t drawn closer to God, I don’t think I’d be giving anybody much of anything.

Jesus told us we had to love each other. That obligation involves practical help as well as prayer. You have to give other people your time, money, goods, and so on. If God gives you a lot, he expects you to give a lot. And if that seems like a bummer, consider the people he isn’t blessing. They don’t lend or give, but then they don’t receive, either. I always remind myself: B.B. King says you have to pay the cost to be the boss, and it’s true. The people God puts in charge and makes prosperous have to help everyone else. The alternative to being a giver and lender is to be a borrower and charity recipient. It’s clear which is better.

This is a topic you can’t discuss much without inadvertently glorifying yourself, so I’ll leave it at that. I’m not getting into my own experiences. I would advise people not to feel bad when God requires them to give, because it suggests he wants to bless you.

Charismatic churches have turned giving into an onerous obligation, and they claim it’s all about giving to ministries. They occasionally mention the poor, but mainly, it’s, “Give me that thousand-dollar ‘seed gift’ so God can buy me a third 707.” They lie and manipulate to get money, and then they spend it on garbage. They lay guilt trips on their flocks, while they’re spending foolishly and putting churches in debt. I’m all done with that. God talks a lot about helping people in need. The stuff about giving to ministries is pretty sparse, once you get past the business about temple sacrifices (which have never applied to Christians). It’s great to give money to your church, but it should be because the Holy Spirit told you to do it, not because Steve Munsey made up a fundraising fable.

The other day I found out our church spent the cost of a Mercedes on eight annoying lights for the stage. I’m not exaggerating about the price.

There are a lot of things we actually need. We have debt. The person who told me about the lights saw that I was shocked and offended. Then he started to explain that someone high up in the church used to be a lighting guy. I raised my hand and told him to stop. That was all the explanation I needed.

Thank God he wasn’t a hockey player. We might have an ice rink.

These lights are extremely ugly, and they shine bright beams directly into the eyes of the congregation. Somehow Billy Graham got along without them. If the church was turned over to me tomorrow morning, they’d be on Craigslist before lunch. I don’t get it. We have a mortgage to pay off. I don’t think the Holy Spirit needs those lights. It’s not like he’s trying to land on an aircraft carrier at night.

I have learned not to give anything to the church–nothing beyond tithing–unless the Holy Spirit sends me orders on engraved stationery. I have to be a good steward, and I’m tired of seeing things rot and go to waste. Giving to other people is way more important, and it does much more good.

I’m also learning that financial foolishness is normal for churches. The people who run churches are like government workers; they don’t have real jobs. They don’t have to produce a service or produce and make a profit. They ask for money. They receive it. They spend it, either stupidly or wisely. Then they ask for more. If they waste money, it doesn’t affect their pay, unless the congregation knows about it. Charismatic churches tend to have zero accountability to their flocks, so people have no idea where the money goes, so they aren’t likely to complain. This must be the reason why churches are so corrupt and mismanaged.

Here’s a story I heard from a musician. He went to a church near me. Not my church. He was poor. A paying job came up. He told the church people he had to take the job. They berated him and tried to make him feel guilty. They said he had to play at a service instead. Remember now, as a tither, he pays their salaries, and they’re telling him not to work!

When the service rolled around, it turned out it didn’t conflict with his job. He also found out they knew it would not conflict when they were tormenting him.

The church had a singer who was working on their lights. He wanted to sing, he was talented…they had him doing lights. Typical. The church folks told him they wanted to give him a high-paying job as a singer. The condition was that he throw my musician friend out of the band. Nice. He refused, probably because he had some inkling of what the Lord would want him to do.

If you’re a Christian who works or volunteers in a church, stories like this will come to you, and you will learn that well-run churches are either nonexistent or very rare.

The problem is that people in leadership have no faith in God. You’re supposed to do what God tells you to do, regardless of whether it seems logical, and then you wait for God to bless you. We should be talking about the Holy Spirit and living in his power. We should be letting God draw people and money to churches. Instead, we rely on gimmicks and manipulation. Obviously, we don’t really believe God will back us up. We feel we have to “help” him. So the flesh takes over. Then you end up with eight lights that cost as much as a condominium.

There’s a positive side to knowing that churches are run badly. We’re taught that “church” doesn’t mean a building. It means the people who gather there. We should take that seriously. We should also remember that it doesn’t mean the people who are in charge. They’re just part of the whole. God is not a respecter of persons, even if most churches forget that. We use the word “VIP” in my church, and that’s really discouraging, because it shows our priorities are not in line with God’s.

My current take on all this is that as long as I’m doing good in my church, and I’m meeting and interacting with good Christians, the church is serving its purpose. The other stuff–what goes on in the offices and on the stage–may or may not be of God, and it may have very little to do with what God sees as the church’s purpose. The things sincere people do, under the radar, far from the stage, may be the primary functions of the church.

Oddly, I have become much more content with my church. If a worldly motivational speaker shows up hocking DVDs and pretending to be a guest pastor, I’ll just ignore him and wait for him to shut up and leave. If Steve Munsey comes in and claims all the Jews went to Jerusalem on Yom Kippur, I’ll smile and do my job, even though I know he’s wrong. I’ve met wonderful people. I’ve learned great things. Powerful things. I’ve gotten closer to God. Sometimes the people on the stage have helped. Much of the time, they have not, and I’ve moved forward because of someone else. That’s good enough. It doesn’t really matter where the growth comes from.

I still can’t believe I need new mobile bases.