web analytics

Archive for May, 2015

Tools I’ve Helped Renew

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Don’t Buy What You Can’t Store

Things are going well here. I am getting more done with tools than I used to. Below, you will see an example.

05 27 15 Rockwell grinder with lid installed

That’s a Rockwell 1″ x 42″ belt sander/grinder. I found it on Craigslist. The owner wanted 30 bucks. I could not pass that up, even though I did not want the tool.

I drove up to a borderline-ghetto area to pick it up. The owner was a young man with tattoos. He took me to his backyard, where he had a small shed set up. It was immaculate inside, complete with a two-tone paint job on sheetrock walls. He had a Logan lathe, a Rockwell drill press, and several other old machines set up. I was startled. You wouldn’t have expected anything from the outside.

He couldn’t get the grinder to work, so he removed it to sell and kept the stand.

Because the motor was in the stand, I needed propulsion. I decided to try a treadmill motor.

These motors used to be real bargains. They run on DC, and DC motors are usually expensive, but because there are a lot of old treadmills out there, treadmill motors have been easy to come by.

Some, at least, are controlled by boards that can be removed along with the motors. One of the most common boards is the MC-60. It has no transformers or power capacitors on it, but you can plug one end into a wall socket and the other into a motor, and it will make it run.

I found a 3/4-HP motor and an MC-60 on Ebay. I don’t recall the total cost. Somewhere around a hundred bucks. I made a mistake and fried the rectifiers and thyristors on the MC-60, so I had to put new ones in, but other than that, it worked.

The motor came with a cast-iron wheel for a flat belt, and the wheel had vanes in it so it sucked air through the motor. It wouldn’t work for my purpose, so I made a new aluminum pulley with vanes. I bought a plastic junction box at Home Depot to hold the control and switches. I mounted the whole mess on a piece of thick plywood, and I applied rubber feet.

The grinder needed to have crud cleaned out of it. It was also adjusted incorrectly, so things were rubbing. I got it clean, and it turned out to be in good shape. Even the wheels were okay. They are notorious for falling apart.

I ordered a few belts for it, and now it works. Very nice. A belt will cut non-ferrous things without exploding, and it produces less heat, so it can be very useful. If you’re grinding aluminum on a wheel, you need to be aware that aluminum can melt into the grit, expand when hot, and then make the wheel explode. This can lead to unpleasant events such as having large chunks of wheel imbed themselves in your facial bones.

Bench grinders are extremely dangerous, but almost no one knows that.

I put a reversing switch on the grinder so I can use the lower wheel for thicknessing parts. I will put some sort of table under it, and then I’ll be able to raise and lower the table and shove parts under the wheel, against the rotation. If you grind with the rotation, the belt will try to yank the parts away from you, and it will try to pull your fingers along with it, breaking them if necessary.

Right now I have an Accu-link belt on it, but I think I should get a normal v-belt, because Accu-link belts are not made with reversing motors in mind. It only takes a few seconds to reverse the belt, though.

While building this thing, I learned a lot about DC motors and belt grinders. Now I’ll be ready if I go on to build a 2″ x 72″.

A while back, I found that things were rusting in one corner of my shop. Eventually, I started to suspect that muriatic acid was to blame. I had a jug of it stored in that area. I investigated and found out that muriatic acid will make things rust even if you keep it capped. I moved the acid to another location and started polishing and oiling things. One of those things was a neat old Stanley #6 plane I got from a tool restorer.

The plane had some rust on it, but it wasn’t actually damaged. It got me thinking about another old plane that was in the garage somewhere. I dug the other plane out and looked it over. The sole was deeply pitted on one side. I mean, maybe twenty thousandths deep. I didn’t know if it was worth saving, but online tool people assured me it was worth a go.

I had to grind off maybe an eighth of an inch of pitted and dented blade, but I eventually got a good shaving edge, which I did my best to polish with a 6000-grit diamond stone. I used sandpaper, WD40, and a flat surface to clean the plane’s sole. I found myself a crummy two-by-four to use for test purposes, and eventually, I got the results you see below.

05 29 15 Stanley 4 plane sharpened and cleaned making shavings

It’s not a desirable plane. It was probably made about fifty years ago, when Stanley was making dubious products, but with effort, I got it to function, so now I can’t throw it out.

I’m considering getting a big rolling tool cabinet to organize things. I already have a really nice 26″ stainless Craftsman combo, but it’s not enough. I want something I can put the CNC lathe on, so it won’t be on my bench any more.

It’s hard finding good boxes now. I got very lucky with my Craftsman, because their stuff is mostly junk. So is Husky. There are a lot of used boxes out there, but I don’t think $1300 for a used Snap-On with rust and flaking paint is much of a deal.

Supposedly, the best stuff comes from Vidmar and Lista, but I will never find that locally, and if I did, it would cost a ton.

I made a surprising discovery. Harbor Freight makes very nice tool boxes. Not the best, but much better than Craftsman. You can get a 44″ roller for $369. I took a look, and they’re not bad at all. I also discovered Extreme Tools. Their boxes are supposedly better than Snap-On and Matco, but they’re considerably cheaper. For $900, you can get a 44″ box with 18-gauge steel in the drawers.

You can order from their website, but that’s a bad idea. If you do that, you have to deal with the shipper, and shippers are idiots. They ruin things all the time, and you have to jump through hoops to get things fixed. The best route is to order from Home Depot. The price is about the same, and delivery to your local store is free. Home Depot will then have to eat any shipping problems, and they will also collect the local sales tax so you don’t have to send a check to your state.

It’s a tough choice. I would like to use credit card points, and if you use them to buy Home Depot stuff with a gift card, you get 100% of the value of the points. If you shop at Harbor Freight, you only get 60% of the value. What it boils down to, for me, is about $360 more for the Extreme Tools box. Might be worth it. But then I’ll get hammered again if I buy a side cabinet to go with it.

I see tool organization as part of God’s pattern of correction and ordering. I bought a lot of tools without much thought for storage, so I have stuff all over the place. A second rolling cabinet would make a big dent in the problem.

Speaking of God, things go well in that area. I feel like a fool for taking so long to understand how wonderful correction is, and that it’s the main purpose of our walk with him. I wish I had seen the obvious sooner. I knew it was important, but I didn’t realize it was the biggest blessing available, after salvation.

You can know things without really feeling them in a way that motivates you.

Unfortunately, things are not going as well for people around me. My church is shrinking, and enthusiasm is waning. They insist on loud music and long services, so people come a few times and then get tired of it and move on. I can’t recommend the church to people any more, because I know they won’t stay. Everyone at the church has been made aware of the issues, but they have made a firm decision not to change, so there it is.

Every morning I wake up and spend hours in prayer, and until recently, God gave me revelation which I shared on social media. That’s over. I still get revelation, but I am not permitted to share it. When I consider sharing it, something stops me.

I realize what’s going on. I have been striving to convince people, and they have decided not to listen. I have been wasting my time. God required me to do it for a while, but for my own protection, he has told me to stop.

This is how the Christian life works. The only reason God allows us to remain here in this filthy mess of a world is to reach other people. For that reason, we are required to pray for them and talk to them. But we aren’t supposed to overdo it. We can’t force people to listen. We can’t choose God’s children for him. When people reject us consistently, we are supposed to pull back and let them receive the harvest for which they have sown. That’s where I am now.

If you keep pestering people, your relationship with them deteriorates, and you run the risk of becoming bitter and angry. You also become frustrated, because you feel you’re not achieving anything. When I stopped prodding and encouraging, I felt as though I had put down an anvil. I had been carrying lazy, proud people on my shoulders. It wasn’t until I put them down that I realized they were wearing me out.

It’s a great feeling, but I would rather see people listen and change.

Even God doesn’t get that wish. He can’t change people, and neither can I. He likes to put us in positions where we suffer what he suffers, so we understand what he goes through. Now I know what it’s like to have my time wasted by people who don’t listen. That’s God’s life. The entire Bible is about mankind’s failure to listen and the destruction that followed.

God told me this a few months back: hell isn’t full of sinners; it’s full of people who don’t listen. Sin can’t keep you out of heaven if you are willing to listen. A humble, repentant serial pedophile is better off than a missionary who thinks he knows everything.

Pride is THE worst sin. I know Jesus made it seem like all sins were equal, but he was talking about their effect on salvation. When it comes to destroying a person’s progress with God, pride is IT.

A small number of people have been affected by the things I’ve shared. That’s all I think I will get. Again, I am learning how God feels. He never gets the majority. It’s always a small remnant.

I don’t think the church will be around long. We started churches in Winter Haven and Georgia. The Winter Haven church disappeared, and I’m pretty sure the Georgia church is also gone. There haven’t been any announcements. Things are not going well in the main church. The other day I counted 50 people in attendance, excluding babies and small children. That’s not good. Back when we were moving forward and experiencing revival, attendance was a lot better.

I’ve had a lot of great experiences in the church, and I’ve made some wonderful friends. We have seen each other change for the better. Now I will wait for the next chapter in my life.

I may hop in the truck and check out a flea market today. I’ve never tried it, and they say you can find cast iron skillets and old tools at good prices. If not, it will be a nice outing.

Receive Everything by Admitting You Deserve Nothing

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Life is More Than Fair

God keeps giving me breakthroughs. I don’t know how much I can do for other people, but I do try to share. People don’t have any real motivation to listen to me, and there are all sorts of competing voices out there spreading sweet-tasting nonsense. I can’t do much about that, but I can say a few words once in a while.

I turned back to God because life didn’t feel right, and I was under stress. I felt some guilt, which is commendable, but I was largely motivated by a desire to have a more pleasant experience here on earth. There is no reason to lie about it. I didn’t wake up one day with a burning urge to help God do his work.

In my pursuit of blessings, I was strongly encouraged by the charismatics I looked to for teaching and support. My old church was a silly, embarrassing fermentation chamber of selfishness and denial. Then there were the characters on TV. Some TV preachers told me that what God really wanted was for me to be rich, and that he would make it happen in exchange for donations to their ministries. Other TV preachers said that what I really needed was motivational training, to provide me with the encouragement and willpower to make things happen with my own strength.

My influences were awful. But I knew one thing that was useful. Back in the 1980s, God had made me understand that if I prayed in tongues a lot, everything would work out. So I stuck with that. Unfortunately, most of the teachers who influenced me were working against God, and that slowed me down. I listened and tried to reconcile when I should have walked away.

I knew the money-lovers were wrong. I had been burned by them in the past. They are complete idiots. But I still thought it was important to donate a lot. I also thought it was important to volunteer at church, and that it was important to help build the organization. In addition to these things, I was highly motivated by the idea that when I was aligned with God’s will, things would generally go well in my life, so if I gave money, volunteered, and did what seemed right according to the Bible, I would presumably have a blessed life.

I wanted to do what God wanted me to do, but really, I was thinking about the external blessings more than anything else.

My life improved a lot, but I could not truthfully say that I got satisfactory results.

I started to realize that it was very important to get rid of iniquity. I came to understand that human beings were full of dumb ideas and bad habits which came from external spirits and our own flesh. That was important.

People at my old church did not want to hear about it. Anything that smacked of repentance or correction was considered “legalism,” “division,” and “condemnation.” They seemed to believe that God wanted the Wilkerson family–the pastors and their offspring–to be very rich and highly admired, and that the purpose of the people who attended the church was to submit without question, to give and do without complaint or restraint, and above all, to smile and shut up.

I understood that I needed to change, but I still didn’t have a heartfelt love of change. I was glad that God had helped me to be grateful, and that he had delivered me from eating too much, but I did not have a burning enthusiasm for improvement. Mainly, I wanted the power and help that come from improvement.

I don’t know if I can be blamed for that. I was raised in a dysfunctional family, and I had all sorts of scars. I wanted an ordered and peaceful life.

I kept praying in tongues and receiving new knowledge. During 2014 and the last few months, things started to shift. I had a list of people I prayed for every day, and I started praying a lot for internal change. I asked God to remove our iniquities and put the heart of Jesus in us. I asked him to put his ideas, urges, and emotions in us. Since I started making these requests, things have broken loose.

Over the last few months, I’ve developed a genuine love of correction I have started asking God for it, explicitly and fervently. I have started to crave it. This is a major change, and it has made my life much more pleasant.

Correction, which is another word for righteousness, sounds like an unpleasant thing. It sounds like I asked God to hit me with a stick or take away everything I enjoyed, but that’s wrong. Supernatural correction is just healing and straightening. It enables you to do the things you want to do yet were not able to do in your own strength.

I have always had a lot of weaknesses. I was disorganized. I worried. I was afraid, usually of things that were extremely unlikely to happen. I was bitter because I felt that I had been cheated in life. Even if I rejected bitterness and refused to indulge it, it was still inside me. I had issues with crabbiness, even though I did not like being crabby. My work ethic was bad. I was messy. I procrastinated. I didn’t connect with people as well as I wanted to, because past mistreatment had put barriers and limiting chains inside me.

If you listen to most preachers, they’ll tell you to fight problems like the ones I had. Fighting is swell, if you can’t get rid of the problems. God wants to take your inner problems away so you don’t have to fight them. There is a difference. It’s better to be good than to try to be good.

You can argue all day about whether a person who is good without trying is as praiseworthy as someone who fights his negative traits every day. It doesn’t matter. We are not supposed to be good through willpower and determination. After all, the Bible says our righteousness is like rags used for cleaning people’s rear ends. It’s somewhat better than nothing, but it’s weak and failure-prone.

Think about the people you know who have tried to change. What percentage of people who diet stay thin? What percentage of addicts stay clean for life? Have you ever known anyone who continued to work out and eat right until his death? I think Jack Lalanne managed it, but he was one in millions.

Sometimes we succeed in changing certain things about ourselves, but generally we fail. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger let himself get fat, weak, and flabby at least once, and his self-discipline is legendary.

Correction means relief from your weaknesses. It can come through supernaturally imparted knowledge. It can come from deliverance from spirits. It can come from the power of the Holy Spirit. However it comes, it’s very, very good, and the shocking thing is that it even feels good. It feels better than receiving money. It feels better than meeting your one true love. It feels better than success or physical healing. Once you start receiving it, you’ll understand how good it is, and you’ll want more. As the Bible says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” Nothing is as convincing as experience.

Once I started feeling correction happening inside me, I got very excited about it, and I found that I wanted it more than anything. The peace it brings is magnificent. It feels like the peace of accomplishment, but unlike that peace, it is neither temporary nor illusory. It comes from God, not you, so you can’t claim credit.

The inner correction led to outer manifestation. I saw it in my surroundings. My house was gross. There was disorder everywhere. There were places where the dust was a horror to see. I had junk I needed to get rid of. Things needed to be moved. When I started receiving correction, suddenly things started changing. I used to be intimidated by cleaning and organizing, but they became pleasant hobbies.

I bought various cleaners and tools. I got excited about microfiber and HEPA filters. I threw things out. I moved furniture and mopped under it. I washed things that had never been washed. I finally learned how to get a bathroom to look the way it should, instead of being satisfied with bleaching the floor and toilet.

I got back into electronics. I brought my old calculator back to life, and when I couldn’t get the display to work right, I replaced it. I found myself compiling and synthesizing information from various sources. I did homework for several hours a week, and I put everything in a big notebook.

I developed a crazy system of exercises I designed myself. They take about fifteen minutes a day, they require no equipment, they’re easy to do, and they work.

I got off of carbs, caffeine, and sugary drinks, and I started eating more fat, protein, vegetables, and fruit. I feel better. I don’t have carb headaches or caffeine irritability.

I am better able to manage the tasks of an orderly life. I feel like Hercules, cleaning the Augean stables, or Alexander, cutting the Gordian knot.

The funny thing is that I’m being blessed, which is what I wanted back when I was misguided. Isn’t that wrong? Should I be so quick to conclude that the good things that happen to me are indicative of success in my walk with God? Doesn’t this make me a bad, blessing-obsessed Christian? No! I’m getting these things as the result of the inner change which is now my primary goal. As Jesus said, you have to seek God’s kingdom and his righteousness first, and then the other stuff will come. Now that the little things are less important to me, they come more easily.

If you can get to a state in which you really love correction, the way you love pizza or following your favorite sports team, you will receive correction, and with it, you will receive external blessings.

The message is not that blessings come through correction. The message is that correction is the blessing.

Last week, I moved another step forward. God made me realize that I deserve to be in hell. That sounds bad, right? It’s not. It’s liberating.

Every human being above a certain age deserves to be in hell, suffering terribly, under the authority of vicious beings that torture and abuse without rest. Think about that. If that’s true, can anyone on earth claim to have been cheated?

Earth is the rim of hell. It’s a terrible, corrupt place, filled with suffering. But it’s not hell itself. People in hell would do anything to get back here. We can’t imagine how much they want to be anywhere other than hell.

If these things are true, then every bad thing that has ever happened to you has not only been fair; it has been much, much better than what you deserve. Maybe other beings had no right to mistreat you, but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve it.

Life is not unfair. It’s just not. Life is way more than fair. We are not victims.

Maybe you’ve been raped. Maybe you’ve been imprisoned unjustly. Maybe you have cancer. Your problems may be horrible. But you’re not in hell, and if you could choose, knowing what hell is like, you would beg to be here, with every problem you have, before you would agree to spend one day tormented in the pit.

We have a tendency to complain to God. We think we’re supposed to have good lives, whether we do anything for him or not, simply because other people seem to have good lives. If you can’t find a spouse or a good way to make money, or if you have an illness you can’t get rid of–if you have any problem which seems unusual to you–you may feel cheated. In your heart, you’ll say, “It’s not fair.” But it is fair. Actually, that’s not true. If life were fair, you’d be in hell, and Jesus would never have been tortured to death. Do you really want fairness?

God gave me something to say to myself. I say, “The worst things that have ever happened to me are much better than what I deserved.” These words have supernatural power. When I have a problem that seems like a big deal to me, and I start to feel cheated, I say these words to myself, and I feel the power working in me. Tension leaves me. Bitterness goes. It’s wonderful.

I have been asking God to destroy my pride, and these words are among the tools he gave me to help him get it done. Job suffered until he admitted he could not say he deserved better. We are in the same boat. The Bible clearly says God is the enemy of the proud, and that includes proud believers. It includes people who preach and run churches. It includes proud people who run Christian orphanages. If I think I’ve been cheated, I’m proud; I’m saying I’ve earned something better. As a result, God will fight me, and he can’t lose. If I admit I’m getting a much better deal that what I have coming, he will fight my problems, not me.

It works. It’s not a joke. You have to try it. Say, “I am not a victim,” and mean it. Realize you deserve evil, not good. Get out of denial. Stop comparing what you have to what your “blessed” neighbors have.

If you will put this stuff to work, you will get a result. If you defend yourself and claim God will reward you bases on what you do, you will remain stuck in the swamp of pride, spinning your wheels and sinking. Don’t do it. No one has the standing to defend himself before God. It will poison your future and ruin your success.

I hope someone who reads this will try it.

Why You Can’t Use the Courses You Passed

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Enroll at Ebay University

I got a few comments on my last post, which was about studying electronics online. I feel like I should add a few things.

Andy-in-Japan says: “Thanks for the info – I’ve been looking for something to help out some members of the extended family that were a step up from Khan. And this looks fantastic!”

Steve G. (not sure if he wants his full name here) says: “The MIT courses are good from what I’ve seen. There’s also a new edition of The Art of Electronics out this month that I am digging into now; depending on the things you want to learn, it could be a good resource.”

I’m glad the stuff I wrote looked helpful, and I hope it was, but I know a little more than I did then, so I am adding a few things.

First off, I had to take to my bed after Steve mentioned The Art of Electronics. This book was one of the few dark spots in my efforts to get a physics degree. I felt like it was written in nerdese, which is impenetrable to normal people.

One of the big problems with technical texts is that they are written by people who can’t remember what it was like to NOT know the subject and the jargon. So they use weird slang and explain things poorly, if at all. I think the lab manual from The Art of Electronics is great, but the book seems more like a reference than a teaching tool. I would stay away from it if I were getting started. Which I am, sort of.

I am going through the lab manual now, redoing the experiments with a breadboard, an oscilloscope and multimeters (thank God for Ebay). It’s good for me to remember what it was like to do things in an ordered way, with tables and whatnot.

Second thing…I would not recommend relying on the MIT/EDx course. It’s incomplete. I don’t consider this a knock on MIT. They do a great job producing miracle workers. I think it’s a knock on electronics teaching in general.

I rounded up a few external sources when I got started. I will list them here.

1. The Electric Circuits Problem Solver
2. Electronics Demystified
3. Basic Circuit Analysis (Schaum)
4. Principles of Electric Circuits, Thomas L. Floyd, 2000.

I have some other things, but these are the really useful ones.

I knew I needed to do solved problems in order to learn, so I started trying to do problems in the first three books. I found I could not get through a chapter without extra research, because they mentioned ideas and methods that were not mentioned in the MIT lectures.

For all I know, later on in the MIT course, all these things are covered, but I doubt it, because they are fundamental things that would be unlikely to appear in relatively advanced lectures.

I have been taking written notes from the MIT class, and I have been inserting additional notes between the pages. I write up my own explanations of material from other sources, including debunking some of the BS. This has made a world of difference in my progress.

It doesn’t do you much good to learn three methods from one guy when you find yourself confronted with challenges that require five methods from other teachers. And sometimes the things you learn will turn out to be wrong or so backward they cause you problems.

If your teacher is good, you should be able to do any problem that isn’t above the course’s level, regardless of which book it appears in. Obvious?

Example: I had to relearn Gaussian elimination, for purposes of solving systems of linear equations (voltages and currents and so on). One source said to put augmented matrices in reduced echelon form and then use the results. This is insane advice. It can be incredibly tedious and nearly impossible to put a matrix in that form. In reality, you can save yourself a lot of pain by settling for echelon form or simply creating one row among the unknowns with only one nonzero entry.

I’m not going to explain that, because it’s boring, but trust me: you do not want reduced echelon form unless the matrix is really cooperative, and you can waste your life trying to obtain it. I spent hours trying to do it with a 3 x 3 matrix, and then I wrote my own treatment of linear equations and realized it’s a five-minute job IF you don’t do it the stupid way.

I also learned that Cramer’s rule (another tool for solving systems) is to be avoided at all costs. Lots of tedium, and no advantage over Gaussian elimination. Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t see any reason to consider using it. But the books teach it.

Another example: an instructor may not tell you how to count loops in a circuit. This may be important, depending on what you’re doing. The answer is simple: count the components and sources, subtract the number of nodes, and add 1. Again, it’s too boring to explain, but it’s very useful.

If I were enrolled in the MIT course for credit, I would be in trouble, because I would never have time to consult the other sources or write my own material. I would have to keep up with tests and so on, so my time would be limited. Because I’m not taking tests, I have time to do it right. And if I ever decided to take the course for credit, it will be a joke, because I’ll be better prepared than most students.

Third thing…if you plan to study electronics, you should definitely get your own equipment and do practical work at home. After all, you’ll eventually need it. You’re studying so you can use what you’ve learned, and you can’t do that without equipment.

I have a breadboard and some handheld multimeters, and I also have some other stuff lying around. An old HP function generator and an HP current source. I learned something that will be very helpful to anyone amassing equipment on the cheap: old bench multimeters are plentiful on Ebay. A bench multimeter is a big box which, if you’re lucky, has an AC cord instead of batteries. They do all sorts of things, you don’t have to hold them in your hands or prop them up, you never have to change batteries, and you can get a nice one delivered for $50.

I forgot to mention the oscilloscope. I have an ancient Hitachi I bought for $50. It would not be useful for creating the next groundbreaking CPU, but it will be a very long time before I reach a point where I need anything better.

Radio Shack has an interesting product that can be useful. They’re going out of business, so this is the time to buy it. Forrest Mims, the electronics educator, helped them create a self-contained project lab, complete with a little breadboard, an ammeter, and components. You can buy it for under $35. It comes with two books of projects. I grabbed one, and it’s nice for gaining practical experience without driving yourself crazy looking for the components you might find in a college lab text. You can also use it for testing your own ideas.

They call it the “Electronics Learning Lab Kit.”

I fiddled around with electronics in the past, but I never really got anywhere. It was like I was in a jar with a big heavy lid on top, obstructing my progress. Now things are really coming together. It makes me wonder what I could have accomplished when I was younger, had I really known how to study. In the past, I just showed up in class and did what they told me. That doesn’t really work unless your teacher is exceptional.

It shows how life changes when you submit to God. When you do things in your own strength, no matter how great it is, you will fail, or your success will be a curse, because God opposes the proud. Once you submit and start gaining supernatural power, tasks that used to defeat you start to crumble before you, and people who used to chase you start running from you.

America is in decline because we’re proud. We forgot who made us strong, so we don’t pray or give him credit. We don’t get to know him, and he does not guide our lives, so we do silly unproductive things, and we lose a lot. People who used to hide from us are now out in the streets giving us orders. Foreigners come here illegally, appear on TV, and shame us for refusing to give them privileges exceeding our own. Terrorists kill us from time to time, on our own soil. This is how life goes for the rebellious.

Things are rapidly getting worse, not just for America, but for Christians who live in America. We are not being spared. Our enemies beat us every day. That’s because we’re not good Christians. We don’t pray in the Spirit. We don’t hear from God. We have no idea which way to turn. He doesn’t help us, because we’re trying to do our own will, and we’re claiming it’s his.

I can’t go back to that. I would rather die than go back to wondering who would defeat me next. It’s not an acceptable way to live. Often released convicts say they will never go back to prison, no matter what it takes to avoid it. I understand that completely. No one wants a life of defeat, hopelessness, and humiliation.

It’s not really important whether I master electronics, but my success is a good example of the way God turns things around when I listen to him.

America is not going to do well. We can’t admit we’re wrong. We think evil is good and good is evil, so we can’t even diagnose our problems. A small residue of people will find help from God, and the rest will continue to fail. Even those who prosper financially will be failures, because they will have to lose themselves in order to get what they want.

When things get really bad, people will point to Christians who are successfully persecuted, and they will say it’s proof God isn’t real. In reality, it will just prove that proud, ignorant Christians don’t get much help from him.

It’s unfortunate that there is no solution to the problem, but at least you can save yourself, and you can help a few people around you avoid the mess. Really, that’s what we should expect. Lot, Noah, Moses, and Jesus were not able to save many people, and that’s a pattern which exists because of the stubbornness of human beings. It will never change as long as we have free will.

Anyway, while the country continues to slide, I will try to enjoy whatever peace and productivity I can.

I hope the information on electronics will be helpful to people, and that folks who know more about it than I do will add to what I wrote.