Archive for April, 2012

Let Go of That Bone

Monday, April 30th, 2012


Peculiar events are taking place at my old church, and I think it has reached the point where I need to do anything I can to put out the fire. A friend I respect–someone who is a strong believer in the Holy Spirit and the power of tongues–called me up and gave me a word, and I think this person is right. I believe God gave him an answer for us.

Nobody reads this blog any more, and nothing I put up here can have any serious consequences, but I’m concerned that things I’ve written here and elsewhere have veered into the carnal realm. The center of my life is my belief in the power of God. The funny thing is, you can end up using the flesh to promote God’s power, and that doesn’t work. Such carnality is the thing that disappoints me about modern charismatic churches, so I shouldn’t let myself fall into the same trap.

No one is going to be persuaded by criticism that stings too much. So I’m going to go back over things I’ve posted, and I’ll take down anything that seems counterproductive.

I don’t think people at my old church get up in the morning and ask themselves what they can do to mess up the kingdom of God. I think they could do a lot better, but so could I.

I’ve been trying to let this drop, as I noted yesterday. The future is my home. I don’t want to get dragged backward in a petty squabble over nothing. I am concerned about the people I left behind, but I can do more for them by praying and being an example than by using persuasive words.

I am not going to quit glorifying God, and if that means saying good things about my new church, that’s what I’ll do. My old church taught us to get on the Internet and tweet and Facebook like crazy. They can’t teach that and then tell us not to do it for other churches. But I’m going to try to avoid putting anything up which they will see as targeted at them.

Steve Munsey…hmm. I sincerely believe it would be a sin to sit by and say nothing about his awful doctrine. It can do a lot of harm. But maybe I’ve made my point with the things I’ve already said. And ultimately, the thing that will expose him is closeness with the Holy Spirit. People who pray in tongues receive understanding. The best solution would be for God to get Munsey himself to repudiate his claims.

A church is its people, and by that standard, my old church is incredible. I hope they begin to reach their potential. I hope they start to receive everything I’ve received, and more. They don’t need me; they need the Holy Spirit.

I think I should put one rumor to bed, before I stop writing. I didn’t instigate anything. A whole bunch of people left the church BEFORE I did. They surprised me when they took off. And they’re not all going to my new church. On top of that, many people have told me–with no prompting–that they are unhappy, or that they’ll be moving on. Truly, I am not the problem. I didn’t cause it, and I can’t fix it.

When I got to New Dawn, friends of mine were already there. And they NEVER recruited me. I pried information out of them, and I liked what I heard, so I checked it out. And the other people who left…I don’t even know where they went. I should call them and see how they’re doing.

I reached out to two or three people, because I thought they really needed a new spiritual home, but there is no secret drive to lure people away.

Anyway, I’m not going to be Satan’s Rock ’em Sock ’em Robot. I’m all done. Let change and healing start.

Yom Kippur is the Feast of Trumpets

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

Dr. Munsey Says So

I must take a moment to comment, again, on Steve Munsey’s disturbing ideas.

Munsey says “the Jews” (doesn’t say “men”) went to Jerusalem three times a year, for Passover, Pentecost, and the Atonement. The Hebrew names for these holidays are Pesach, Shavuot, and Yom Kippur, in that order. He says they brought their “very best offerings.” He says that, in exchange, God gave them “seven blessings,” which he has gathered from various corners of the Pentateuch.

I always thought this was funny, because only Jewish men went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage days, and they didn’t go on Yom Kippur. And of course, there were no big cash offerings, and there were no lists of rabbinically approved blessings which God sold the Jews.

It gets even funnier. Well, sadder, really, I suppose I should not laugh. Elijah got smacked down pretty good after he ridiculed the false prophets.

I thought Munsey was confusing Yom Kippur with Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles. Sukkot, not Yom Kippur, was the third pilgrimage (at least in the Gregorian year; don’t get me confused). It turns out it’s much worse than that. He’s conflating Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Rosh Hashanah (the Feast of Trumpets).

You really have to see this. It’s precious. Here’s a picture from Munsey’s website. As you can see, he says “the Atonement” is “the Feast of Trumpets.”

Click to read it.

I don’t know what’s in this guy’s heart. I’ve met him. He seems nice enough. But it looks bad, doesn’t it? If he were preaching this stuff in conjunction with a request for prayer or an instruction to read the Bible, it might not be so fishy-smelling, but he’s doing it in connection with a request to give HIM a big pile of MONEY, not once, but THREE times a year.

It’s always troubling when people make “errors” that work in their favor.

Anyway, you would have to be a fool to give money to a Seven Blessings drive. And I have done it, so I know what that makes me. I didn’t know this stuff came from Munsey, and also, I guess I was stupid. As a Christian, you get used to opening your mind and your heart, and that’s a good time for an enemy to shove something in.

New Dawn

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

Oh, Right. CHURCH.

Today I tried a new church. New Dawn Ministries in North Miami. A buddy of mine–a fellow armorbearer–has already moved there. He was there to welcome me. I was permitted to pack heat in the service, so right away, things were headed in the right direction.

I’m tired, so I don’t want to write a lot, but I can tell you I’m going back next Sunday, and I’ve told my church’s armorbearers I may be leaving.

Critiques: the service was WAY long. That’s fine when you can account for the time, but sometimes a service will have long periods where nothing much is going on, and someone needs to wake up and make a transition to the next thing.

Actually, that’s the only critique.

Positives: these people really believe in the Holy Spirit. They don’t just say they believe, while pushing positive thinking and stuff taken from motivational speakers and corporate trainers. The preacher taught from the word, not Dale Carnegie. The Holy Spirit clearly guided him; the lesson he taught was something I really needed to learn, and it came at a very appropriate time. The church is insanely clean, and you don’t see crazy problems like broken chairs and doors that don’t work. The music ministry is freer. The pastor has time to talk to people, and he is serious about serving. They don’t nag about money. They didn’t lay a guilt trip on the congregation for not doing enough for the church. I felt bursts of supernatural faith going through me in the service, to the point where my head actually hurt a little, and this has continued since I left. Parking is very good. The drive is shorter than the drive to the other church.

Here’s a big positive: no Steve Munsey craziness.

The church is tiny; I would say two hundred people were there, in sanctuary maybe sixty feet square. It goes without saying that they don’t have a restaurant, a dance studio, an ice rink, a movie theater, and all the other time-wasting, money-wasting, secular junk you are likely to find in a megachurch. That makes me happy. Like Jesus said, you can’t serve God and Starbucks.

People spoke in tongues onstage. That was nice. They didn’t stand up there and ramble for no reason, but a few spurts came out from time to time, and I consider that very healthy. If you’re ashamed of the Holy Spirit, you are in real trouble. My church tends to suppress manifestations of the Holy Spirit, which is pretty odd, considering it’s Assemblies of God.

Until today’s service was over halfway done, I did not realize how fatigued I had become at my church. I felt as though a great weight were sliding off my shoulders. I was actually getting something from church, instead of giving, giving, giving, GIVING. I felt like a sled dog being given a bowl after going a week without water. It was the exact same sensation you get after ending a major ordeal that has sapped your strength. If you’ve ever settled a lawsuit, you know how I felt on the way home. I felt like sleeping! Tension had left me.

Sometimes you can be under stress and in great need without realizing it. I had expected to continue at my church for several months, and I wasn’t really disturbed by the prospect, but now that I know I don’t have to, I feel overwhelming relief. I realize I have to go back to New Dawn, and if my perceptions are confirmed, I have to stay. I have to get a friend of mine to go, too. I know a young man who is so fed up with my church, he’s about to snap. I don’t want to be a recruiter who tries to gut one church in favor of another, but I’m going after this kid. His need is too great to ignore.

I learned that New Dawn has armorbearers, and they would probably want me on the team. Sounds okay, but right now, I just want to go to church again. For months, I’ve been spending my church time working or shooting the breeze with friends. I want to sit there and soak it in.

I feel like a refugee. Really. It surprises me.

I saw a couple of blog posts I wrote a few years back. I see that I was much more supportive of my church’s policies and actions back then. The Holy Spirit has really opened my eyes, and on top of that, the church has deteriorated spiritually. A lot of the more sincere Christians are complaining or leaving. We are seeing a power shift from a sixtyish pastor to his thirtyish son, and the emphasis is headed in the MTV direction. Increasingly, youth is exalted, and ignorant, worldly young people with zero humility and zero judgment are getting more prominence. People like me are not appreciated. It’s okay to spend a limited amount of time in an environment like that, for a good reason, but like I said last week, Jesus told us to shake the dust off our shoes and take our blessedness elsewhere. No matter how I try, my church will not let me bless it. Maybe this one will.

Improbable Cause

Friday, April 20th, 2012

Zimmerman Prosecutor Fail

I watched the last 20 minutes or so of George Zimmerman’s bond hearing today.

You can get bogged down in the details and sniping, but it makes more sense to examine the dispositive issues.

In order to convict George Zimmerman, the state has to prove certain things. If Zimmerman did not start a fight, and he shot to prevent a forcible felony (aggravated assault or aggravated battery), or if he was in actual, reasonable fear of severe bodily harm, he walks.

People think you can only shoot if you’re in reasonable apprehension of severe bodily injury or death. That’s wrong. Look at the statute. You can shoot to prevent a forcible felony, including aggravated assault, IF you have clean hands. If someone is committing a forcible felony, you are PRESUMED to be in fear of death or great bodily harm.

A person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked in any other place where he or she has a right to be has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony.

That’s a cut-and-paste. Look at the last part of it.

Here is the definition of “forcible felony”:

Forcible felony.—“Forcible felony” means treason; murder; manslaughter; sexual battery; carjacking; home-invasion robbery; robbery; burglary; arson; kidnapping; aggravated assault; aggravated battery; aggravated stalking; aircraft piracy; unlawful throwing, placing, or discharging of a destructive device or bomb; and any other felony which involves the use or threat of physical force or violence against any individual.

The state has to prove Martin was not in the process of committing a forcible felony when he was shot, AND that Zimmerman was not in reasonable fear of great bodily harm.

I now believe they have no chance. If the state has a bombshell that will convict Zimmerman, they haven’t shown it yet, and they have made it clear they can’t prove Zimmerman was the aggressor.

Sometimes it’s good to separate known facts from opinions and disputed facts, so let’s look at facts that can’t be reargued.

Fact (admitted by the state under oath):

1. Zimmerman and Martin fought.

2. Zimmerman had lacerations on the back of his head, consistent with having an assailant beat his head against a sidewalk.

3. There are no witnesses to the start of the fight.

4. The state has no evidence that Zimmerman was not attacked.

5. Martin was shot up close, possibly with the gun barrel against him.

You don’t really need more than that. Again, the burden of proof is on the state, and it’s very high. They can’t win by proving Zimmerman COULD have been the aggressor. They have to show that it’s the only explanation a reasonable person could accept.

Zimmerman only has to show that his version COULD be true. That’s it.

If you can’t prove Zimmerman started the fight, you can’t prove Martin wasn’t committing (or about to commit) a forcible felony. The beating took place. That can’t be disputed. If Zimmerman was attacked and Martin was beating his head on a concrete sidewalk, Zimmerman had every reason to believe the attack would progress at least to aggravated assault, and possibly to aggravated battery or murder. That’s just common sense.

If Martin attacked, it triggers the statute, and that would end the case instantly.

If Martin had merely punched him, there could be doubt. But he beat Zimmerman’s head against the sidewalk, opening two long gashes, and he broke his nose. These acts may constitute a felony in and of themselves, and coupled with Martin’s persistence (shown by the number of injuries) they definitely establish the intent to commit a felony.

The only issue is who started it. And the state has affirmatively averred it has no evidence proving Zimmerman is lying about that particular fact. With no other evidence, his word is the most powerful guide the jury has.

What if Martin had been shot from a distance? It would cast doubt on Zimmerman’s story. You can shoot to put an end to a felony, but you can’t shoot once your attacker gets up and runs off. What if Zimmerman had no injuries, or the injuries were not consistent with a battery? He would have a hard time showing a felony had been in progress. But the injuries are there, and the state says they conform to his story.

What if a witness had seen Zimmerman attack Martin? That would be powerful evidence that he committed a crime. But no such witness exists. The state says so, under oath. Witnesses heard people argue. One witness said one “figure” chased another past her home, and she can’t identify them (and chasing is not a crime). Another witness saw Zimmerman on his back under Martin. No matter how you slice it, the state has a hard row to hoe.

The cops say Zimmerman claimed Martin covered Zimmerman’s mouth and nose, and that it was at this point that Zimmerman grabbed his gun and fired. The prosecutor say they have evidence that Zimmerman is wrong. That’s fine, but it wouldn’t affect the outcome. You can say something that isn’t true and still be innocent. Maybe Zimmerman stretched the truth or even lied, but if Martin was on top of him, and Martin was the aggressor, the state loses.

Remember, Zimmerman hasn’t been charged with perjury. Murder is the charge. He can lie all day and still be innocent of murder, as long as the physical evidence backs him up, and there are no witnesses to contradict him.

The longer this case goes on, the more disgusted I become. The arrest and charges are the result of the public outcry, not a proper investigation and determination of probable cause. The governor denies this, but look at the facts. Zimmerman was free and in the clear until people started raising hell. There was no chance of an arrest. It’s amazing that the governor would tell such an obvious lie. It is definitely a lie; there is no other explanation.

I doubt Zimmerman will be tried. If O’Mara is any kind of lawyer, he’ll get this thing dismissed. The judge may be a politician, and if he is, he’ll rule in favor of the state. I guess that’s the state’s only hope. But they still have to get a jury to buy their theory.

Anything is possible. Shocking new evidence could come to light, proving Zimmerman’s guilt. But right now, by its own admission, the state has nothing.

Following the Two Spies

Monday, April 16th, 2012

Relief is in Sight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are a couple of photos I took that day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can tell you what I look forward to.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Secret Place of the Least High

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

A Mighty Fortress is My Garage

The Garage of Blues has undergone yet another metamorphosis.

I could not deal with my old Clausing lathe, so I started shopping for a new lathe that actually worked. I got tired of shopping, and I prayed for God to send me a good lathe at a good price. The next day, I got a sudden email message advising me that a reputable seller had knocked thousands off the price of a machine, and that it had been equipped with some stuff I like, and that stuff I did not want had been removed.


I took some photos while the riggers were moving it in. They gouged it slightly, but having seen what BAD riggers do, I was still satisfied. Here it is.

That thing is a 16 by 40. It can swing a part almost 17″ wide. It’s not packed with features, but the quality is very good, and the construction is heavy. It only has 12 speeds, but the range is nice: 20-2000 RPM. The motor is 7.5 horsepower, which is insane. The threading options are a little limited, but change gears can be had. The ways are a foot wide, the castings are Meehanite. It came with a neat light and a DRO. No complaints here.

Og told me to get a 12 x 36, and he was probably right. He was right when he told me to get a Grizzly instead of the Clausing. But come on. This baby has a 2″ bore. I can part stuff that would otherwise require a saw. You know I needed that.

I actually wanted a 14 x 40 with variable speed, but the seller I had in mind would not give me a quote. He kept saying he’d get around to it. He said he sent it, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace. After two months, I gave up on him. I think the smaller lathe would have been fine, and it would have had a big bore on it, but I can’t hold people at gunpoint and force them to do business with me.

I could not get him to sell me the smaller lathe I wanted, and once I had decided on the big lathe, people told me not to use a VFD, which is the cheapest way to run a big lathe on single-phase power, without derating and other potential issues. They told me I needed a digital phase converter, which is pretty ridiculous. They cost a lot. I was determined to get a VFD, but over time, I decided to bite the bullet and do it right. So now I have the phase converter on my wall. Right now it’s only connected to the lathe, but if I feel like it, I can add the mill to it and bypass the existing VFD, which does absolutely nothing except provide three-phase power. I can also put up sockets and run whatever three-phase stuff I get later. This is advantageous, because a lot of great three-phase equipment goes on the market for low prices, and it’s generally better than single-phase machinery.

I went with Gator chucks. Ordinarily, the lathe would have come with no-name Asian chucks, but they were not included, so I got to pick my own. Gators are made in mainland China, but the company has a very good reputation. I got an 8″ adjustable 3-jaw chuck, which is practically my fiancee now, and I also got a 10″ 4-jaw which I haven’t even tried, because the 3-jaw is so great. I can’t measure the runout on the 3-jaw, and so far, that has held true on diameters of 1″ and 1.5″, so it appears to work well, at least within that range.

I was going to get cheapo Chinese carbide holders, but I got yelled at when I mentioned this to actual machinists, so I found a great deal on two Kennametal 3/4″ holders, and the seller threw in 10 inserts. Very nice. Super rigid.

The lathe isn’t leveled yet. I was going to use the famous “Rollie’s Dad” method, but research led me to conclude that it wasn’t really that great, so I reluctantly ordered a good level. I went with Tools4cheap. I’m hoping the level lives up to the hype.

The lathe is a DREAM to run. It scared the crap out of me when I first got it going. I accidentally started the giant chuck spinning at 2000 instead of 500. But it does what it’s supposed to do. The repeatability on the 3-jaw chuck is a wonder to behold. The worklight is bright and very easy to position. The controls work MUCH more smoothly than the ones on the Clausing. It just does what it’s supposed to do. I don’t fight all day to make the tool work. It’s just like my gorgeous milling machine.

I finished up my 304 stainless garlic press. It works great. You stuff it with garlic and whack it with a hammer, and pureed garlic poomps into a little chamber. Then you pump the piston again, and the garlic pops out on your cutting board. This is the first decent garlic press I have ever seen. And I’m improving it. I’m making a big base that includes the pulverizing holes and the chamber for the crushed garlic, and it’s going to thread onto the main housing. It will come off easily to go in the dishwasher. I love it. It’s so cool I can’t stand it.

After this I may make a nutcracker. I don’t need one. I just hate nutcrackers. They’re wimpy. They slip and shoot nuts across the room. They break. I’m going to make one that will open a golf ball, if that’s what turns you on.

Today I used the lathe to bore out a 1 1/2″-wide piece of stainless, for the garlic chamber. I saved my old 1/2″ Albrecht chuck from the Clausing, and I got an adaptor sleeve to make it fit the new tailstock. I drilled the work with three bits, creeping up to 1/2″, and then I went to a boring bar that would fit in the hole. Then I put it on the mill and flattened the bottom of the bore. Going back to the lathe, I turned on the DRO, put in a bigger bar, and set the bottom of the bore as zero. After that, it was a simple matter to open the bore up until the walls were about 3/16″ thick. The bar screamed like hell–nothing I do seems to change that–but the finish is really nice, so I guess it’s okay.

I have to figure out what to use for the internal threading on the end that joins the press body, but other than that, this will be a cakewalk. God willing.

I wonder if cooks would pay for stuff like this. It would be pointless to make these things for less than thirty bucks. But they would last forever and work like nothing else on the market.

I love the garage more every day. I have a guitar amp out there, which I’m halfway done building. I have my tools set up in a nice ergonomic way. I have peace and quiet. I have air conditioning and comfy chairs. I have hundreds of albums on the MP3 player. And I have the ultimate place to pray. I generally do at least an hour and a half out there in the evening.

I have been asking God to tell me what my job is. Crazy as it sounds, I think he answered. I think prayer is my job. Some people go to Calcutta. I go to the garage. It suits me to a tee. Prayer is the most powerful thing anyone can do, even if no one appreciates it. And if you’re in God’s presence every day, for long periods, good stuff is going to happen to you, regardless of whom you pray for. It’s a little like being God’s treasurer. You’re distributing his supernatural wealth. Some of it is going to stick to you.

I believe God has given me a fortune, and the substance of that fortune is faith, which is much more valuable than money. If God gives you a fortune, you have to share it. So, unless I’m wrong about what he wants me to do, this is going to be my primary function for a while. Pray for others. Pray for the country. And of course, pray for yours truly. Come on, man. I need a little piece of the action. You can’t muzzle the ox that treads out the corn.

Life has changed a lot. Things work better. Things that used to cause me stress are turning into blessings. Even the collection calls from student loan servicers and collection agencies are kind of pleasant now. I executed a release, so they can never get another dime out of me, but they still call from time to time and ask–very courteously–if I know where they can find the borrower. Now I feel I can relate to them, instead of seeing them as relentless sources of aggravation.

If you’re a cosigner for someone who won’t pay, for God’s sake, ask about executing a release. Not a settlement. A “release.” Trust me; this advice is gold. I got my freedom. Get yours. They will negotiate. You may lose some money, but thereafter, you will sleep well while the person who took advantage of you has to worry about things like wage garnishing, lawsuits, and debts bankruptcy doesn’t affect.

I don’t think I’m going to be here too long. My faith tells me I will find a better place to live. I don’t want to budge until I get a clear indication. I truly look forward to kissing Miami goodbye forever. My family endured so much sorrow here. I don’t need to look around me and be reminded. My life is in the future, so I don’t want to be wrapped up in the past. I think God has given me the Garage of Blues so I can have a little comfort while I wait.

I think my dad is coming around. He sees how I am blessed. That has to have an impact. My sister…another story. Some people are extremely hard for God to teach, so they go through shocking trials. I’m not worried. I keep asking God to do specific things to bring her around, and he keeps doing those things. Whatever happens, she will have the best shot prayer can provide.

I have to go work on the amp. I can’t wait to hear it!


People are asking about the garlic press. I have really bad photos. The end result is what matters, so here are two photos of the garlic on its way out. This should give you an idea of what it does to the garlic. The press is one inch in diameter, to provide scale.

The garlic may look solid, but that’s because it was mashed into a cylindrical space. It has passed through several 1/8″ holes.